Caution: Romance at Work

Office is a breeding ground for romance. But it pays to be careful while falling for a co-worker

Romance at workThe word "romance" has some strange mystique.it can tickle anyone. Married or unmarried, young or old, junior or senior, boss or subordinate — just about anyone can be bitten by this bug.

How it all starts

Every workplace has its own demands. The work stress can push a person to perform better and show results, but only to an extent. When this stress prolongs, it drains the person of energy, creativity and motivation. What can matter worse is the lack of a companion or friend with whom one can share his/her tensions, fears and feelings. In these traumatised moments, if one does find a friend of the opposite sex, nature plays its role. The same lady who never really took a second look in the mirror before leaving for work, would now take extra effort to look better, wear the best outfits, touch up with an eye-liner and the most favourite perfume, and top it up with a customised hair style with a specialist. In the same way, a man would ensure having a cleaner shave, pull out the best shirts, invest in branded attire, and maybe buy some trendy glasses. In short, both would make an attempt to come best dressed in anticipation of winning compliments from the other.

Romance can bring out the best or the worst in people. To facilitate ease in comprehension, I would like to categorise workplace romance into unmarried individuals, and either or both married individuals.

Romance between unmarried individuals

Here, we can typically imagine professionals in their mid-20s, in the beginning of their careers, independent and not yet committed to anyone.

The Pros

  • Productivity and performance improves radically at this initial stage.
  • Self-motivation propels the individual to demonstrate his/her accomplishments and creativity.
  • Work hours tend to increase both in the mornings and evenings in an attempt to be in the vicinity of the person desired.
  • The individuals feel special about themselves and have a higher self-esteem.
  • They desire to be recognised as a better team worker and performer, and secretly hope that their partner is aware of these accomplishments.
  • Being in the same environment for most of the active part of the day, chances of the individuals knowing the true nature of the partner are certainly higher than through mere dates or outings.

The Cons

  • As long as both individuals are at the hierarchy at which they began, the going is fine. However, if one rises the career graph faster than the other, either of the following is possible:
    • The more successful partner may start moving in a different circuit and find no time for or consciously avoid his/her partner.
    • The one lagging behind may harbor an inferiority complex and may knowingly or unknowingly avoid the other partner.
  • Workplace competition and personal career aspirations may lead to cracks to the blooming romance if either of the partners feel their romance inhibiting their personal growth.

Thus, unmarried individuals need to be sure they are romancing because they like the partner genuinely and not because they merely love the idea of being in romance.

Romance between either/both married individuals

Recently, I happened to meet an old-time friend, whom I was not in touch with of-late. I was quite perturbed to see an erstwhile vibrant, professional, slim, well-dressed and beautiful Neha with a puffed body and swollen face. There were no traces of any charm or happiness on her face clad with a plastic smile. Married to the person of her choice, Neha has a three-year-old daughter. A few months back, she happened to meet a colleague, newly transferred to the same branch. What began initially as a cordial and formal tea chats soon transcended to evening drives once in a while. As both incidentally felt a sort of stagnancy or no excitement in their individual married lives, they clicked instantly, hence had a lot to share. Within a few months, this friendship turned into romance which then transcended to a serious relationship and finally into a tragic break-up. Neha's feelings, family expectations, conflict of values, work and other family demands took a toll on her entire existence.

The Pros

  • Workplace romance between married individuals stems not from the premise of an extra-marital affair but from the premise of an "office spouse". An office spouse is a colleague usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage such as confidentiality, loyalty, sharing of experiences, and an unusual degree of honesty or openness.
  • Productivity at work also improves with the positive strokes obtained through the new relationship.
  • Meeting with the partner, spending quality moments can help an individual combat his/her personal issues and face situations with grit.

The Cons

  • A nice and pleasant romance, however, can land up in a lot of negativity if any one of the partners begins expecting and demanding time or attention, more than what the other one can give. Possessiveness gradually steps in.
  • Once the initial ecstasy dies off, it becomes impossible for one to give in to the other person's demands. What used to be a genuine gesture now becomes a forced and unwilling gesture and thus adds to the mental strain. What began as an energy-giving experience now turns into an energy-draining relationship.
  • Work performance can deteriorate drastically with the stress of balancing home, work and the new relationship. This balancing act can get even worse if any sort of physical intimacy comes in the romance, as it definitely will affect the personal relationship with the actual spouse.
  • The romance can be so stressful that usually the one, who is more practical of the two, begins avoiding the other. The latter usually turns into an emotional disaster, unable to give his/her 100 per cent either at work or home and unable to perform. In extreme cases, this vulnerability can lead to suicidal tendencies.
  • Reputation at workplace can be ruined with either slacks in performance or erratic/changed behaviours. In any case, such individuals become a hot topic of discussion in office gossips.
  • Last but not the least, if either of these individuals already have a child/children, then the latter can get affected adversely and be left confused with the sudden change in behaviours of their parent.

There can be far more miseries at the end of it, if sensibility does not prevail. Women are usually more emotionally inclined than men and hence tend to suffer far more than men. Therefore, any movement in this direction must be taken with a lot of deliberation on its ramifications.

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Tejasa Jhaveri
Tejasa Jhaveri is a co-promoter of the Transcend group of companies. Tejasa's core competency lies in conducting behavioral, managerial and functional training programs. Understanding people, teaching and training comes naturally to Tejasa. She has trained over 5000 people including companies, individuals and students.

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