When you spend ample time at your place of work, it stands to reason that you might forge close, personal relationships with your co-workers. Some of these relationships may even develop into romances, which can be a cause for concern when it comes to sexual harassment and other issues. To ensure you remain on the right path, The Balance recommends the following advice for anyone entering into workplace romances.
The first step is to determine whether your employer has any regulations in place banning dating between co-workers. Many employers stipulate that co-workers cannot date to spare the hassle and stress associated with a workplace romance gone bad. If this is explicitly stated within your employee handbook, it’s best to avoid the situation or you could be at risk of losing your job. Even if your workplace doesn’t have any outward rules or regulations regarding the issue, think about whether dating is discouraged in more general terms.
If not, you may proceed into a romance, albeit cautiously. This is especially true when one romantic partner is in a lower position than the other. In this case, claims of sexual harassment could arise later, particularly if the subordinate party feels pressured into maintaining a relationship even when he or she is no longer interested. Even if you’re on the same footing, you still want to proceed with caution.
It’s best to keep displays of affection out of work to maintain a professional appearance. That’s not to say that you should lie about your relationship with your co-worker, but you should ensure your pairing is as discrete as possible. You should also have a talk with the person on how the situation will be handled should you decide to break up. You don’t want to be surprised by an unpleasant reaction should your relationship go south, and having a discussion beforehand will prepare you for that possibility.