I have never liked the idea of office romance. Maybe because I like to maintain an air of mystery or because I could get tired of someone I am dating, if we got to see almost every day. But, I wasn’t totally opposed to the idea either. My stance on it was, what doesn’t work for one, might work for another. That was until recently when an office romance in my place of work blew up and got really messy. The culprits? Lizzy in HR and Alfred in IT. I remember a conversation Lizzy and I had, one time when the sparks first started flying. It was during lunch break and we found ourselves at the same table and began to make small talk, until she asked me “What do you think of Alfred?” I responded, “oh, Alfred? He is cool and he is great on the job.” I was curious to find out why she asked, but since we weren’t that close, I didn’t bother, and ate my food in silence. Just as I was finishing the last bit, Lizzy broke the silence and said “My heart races fast whenever I see him”. My first thought was, “doesn’t this girl have any close friends she can gush about a new crush to? I closed my food flask and asked “what exactly are you feeling?” Then she went “ I spend most of my hours at work, and never really have time to date. I never thought I could find love. Now, it’s like God brought love to me, right here in the office!”
Lizzy went on and on about the first day they met, how he talked to her, when he helped her with some software issues, the few times they had gone out for drinks, how she thought they were getting past the friendship phase, and how she could tell that Alfred is the one. I was about opening my mouth to tell her about my mis-givings on office relationships, but then she continued gushing about how, work would be fun now, meetings won’t be boring anymore and they have a lot to talk and gossip about, since they work in the same organization. I swallowed back all my buts and wished her well, while adding a ‘be careful’ clause. I liked Lizzy since that lunch chat, and when I started seeing them hover around each other all the time, I said a silent prayer for them. She didn’t come to me with any more love stories, but she looked happy and soon, the entire building knew they were an item.
Romance Vs. Reality
Fast forward to six months later when Lizzy received her long-due promotion. She was now dating her subordinate and opened herself up to work versus love dilemma. Alfred would snitch on colleagues he didn’t like and coerce Lizzy to take action against the persons. News soon started flying that HR always sent a query to anyone who recently got in a fight or argument with Alfred. He was using Lizzy, and I guess she was too love-struck to see it. He soon became brave enough to ask for more benefits than he deserved, after-all his babe was Head of HR. That was when Lizzy put her foot down and their relationship took a detour. Alfred suddenly started snapping at her in public, ignoring her completely at the office and started spending more time with Clara, the hot youth corper, posted to the office. It was very bad that Lizzy had to see all the flirting between Alfred and Clara. It was even worse that the entire office knew something was wrong, and Lizzy could tell that even her subordinates were gossiping behind her back.
At this point I reached out to her, if nothing; to at least offer a shoulder to cry on. I invited her to go to the movies with me one Thursday evening after work, and we had a swell time at the cinema. Afterwards, I offered her a drink at my place and she obliged, so we went home together. Over tea and cookies, I asked her how things were going between she and Alfred, I told her I saw signs, but didn’t want to jump into any conclusions. That was when she opened up about Alfred using her and going to the extent to ask for more benefits, simply because she was promoted to Head of HR. She reiterated all the signs I saw, and even told me about things that I missed. Lizzy said her esteem was at an all-time low, and she basically walked on egg shells around the office. She found herself being too lenient on erring staff, because she was scared of anyone insulting her to her face. She even said it was hard moving around the office, because she always had to double-check to make sure she wasn’t going to run into Clara or Alfred. She also had to fight her inner demons that were tempting her to look for a reason to put either Alfred or Clara in trouble.
Getting Out of Trouble
I couldn’t help but feel for Lizzy; she desperately wanted to quit her job, but with the new promotion and everything else looking good, she just couldn’t afford to make sure a huge change. In my ever feminist mood; I told her “girl, I would say office romance is not advisable, but I am sure you know that firsthand. Look on the bright side though, imagine if it was someone with a higher rank that you dated? Then, people would say you didn’t deserve your promotion, but got it as favor from the boo. Alfred downgraded and it’s his loss, not yours. Thank God, things had not gotten too serious before you found out who he really is. I would advise you to issue him a suspension for trying to to blackmail you into giving him more benefits, but since we have no written proof, we have to let that slide. Now, you have to quit being the victim and show people who is boss. Wear make up and look good to work, buy a new car, be merry and happy on the job, totally ignore Alfred and Clara and just do your thing.”
When an office romance end on a sour note, you can get better or worse for it. Life isn’t fair, I know. Sometimes we find our specs right in the office, but except you can effect a transfer to another branch or get another job, take your search outside. Lizzy is implementing the tips I gave her and things are starting to brighten up again, but prevention is always better than cure. When you are in an office relationship, your affair may influence decisions that are way past the lunchroom, and also colours everyone’s judgment as regards, projects, team building, responsibilities and promotions. The relationship could make it more difficult for you to perform effectively and when it ends, it is harder to heal because you get to see the person often, and colleagues get to know of something that would otherwise have been private.
Office romance? Don’t do it!