It turns out, 3 in 4 people have had a romantic relationship with someone they work with, according to a poll of 1,100 employees by LiveCareer.
This is "generally not a good idea," says Brandon Smith, a career coach known as The Workplace Therapist. But the urge is understandable.
"If people are struggling to find others with similar interests, well, work is somewhere you could find that," he says.
And while most people are aware of all the ways in which a workplace romance could sour, most approve of them: 76% of those surveyed said there is nothing wrong with dating a colleague and 71% said there is nothing wrong with dating a manager.
Workplace romances are notoriously messy — 67% of respondents said they knew a colleague who cheated on their partner with a co-worker.
Even if neither party is in a committed relationship, dating a co-worker can lead to tension.
"People don't stay in their jobs forever," Smith says. "People get promoted. What if one person gets one and one doesn't? What does that do to a couple? What if a person gets promoted and they are dating their manager? That makes that picture a lot less clear."
And most workers can see these problems coming. In fact, a whopping 75% of those surveyed said workplace romances lead to favoritism and 74% said they lead to loss in productivity.
So why do a majority of employees see no issue with dating a boss or colleague?
One reason could be optimism about finding a long-term partner. After all, 73% of employees say they know someone who met their spouse at their workplace.
If you're going to proceed with a workplace romance, you need to navigate it thoughtfully both in and out of the office.
Here are two steps that can help you do that, according to Smith:
- Keep your relationship out of the office. If you're in the same department, this is especially important. "Find ways to distance yourself from your colleague," Smith says. "You need to really come up with a clear game plan on how you're going to be exceptionally professional at work."
- Talk about the break-up. At least try to talk about what would happen down the road should things not work out. "It's not exciting to do, but the implications on the other end are worse," he says. "When there is a break-up, what do you do?"