Why relationships at work are a REALLY bad idea

Today's allegations regarding the (former) Shadow Chancellor, his police bodyguard and his wife would make a great Kevin Costner film.

They also serve to drum home a fact we all know, but many of us choose to ignore: having a relationship with someone you work with is usually a really bad idea...I'm guilty of this particular sin: When I was a student, I got a job in a bar. I did wonder why I was hired over the other candidates, as I'd never pulled a pint in my life and could barely tell ale from After Shock.

Shortly after I started working there, all became clear: The bar manager asked me out, and I said yes. And all went swimmingly, until he dumped me for another employee. At around the same time, my shifts in the bar were dramatically cut. Funny that.

It was probably no bad thing, as sobbing into other people's pints all the time really isn't cool. But the whole episode made me decide, once and for all, that workplace romances are not for me.

Of course, some end beautifully - and many small businesses are run by married couples who work brilliantly together. However, here are my reasons for being wary:

The power balance: In most workplace romances, one party is the more senior, and wields more professional authority. They may not be your direct boss (though mine was) but very often they can have a significant influence over your present and future employment prospects.

Even if they don't have that power, they're in an excellent position to bad-mouth you to lots of people who do. And of course, it works both ways: Many a boss has been sacked for having an 'unprofessional' encounter with a staff member. Relationships are hard enough without that particular dynamic coming into play!

The constant contact: The chances are you see this person (in a professional context) for a large part of every day. And it's amazing who you end up falling for when you're thrown together for extended periods of time.

Long working hours can breed a sense of intimacy that wouldn't exist if you went on occasional dates. That might be a good thing, but it also creates an intensity that could cause the relationhip to misfire badly.

The end of the affair: I've had some pretty messy break-ups. Fortunately, however, my career prospects have never rested on being nice to them afterwards. If a workplace romance goes wrong, it's doubly hard to walk away and make a new start. Do you really want to dread trips to the water-cooler for ever after?

But perhaps my one bad experience has made me cynical. Perhaps you met the love of your life at work? Leave a comment and let us know!
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