Information Technology Dark Side

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Best of The Dark Side: Rules for Office Romance

April 9th, 2008 · 7 Comments

You are going to spend a lot of time at work. This is especially true early in your career as you use youth to outpace others. The ratio of women to men is increasing as more and more women join the workplace. Companies encourage teamwork, honest communication, and after hours interaction. Most work environments bring together people who share your economic, social, and education level. Those dynamics are combined with being young and passionate with a new steady source of income. It is a bittersweet recipe for romance.

Most advice regarding office romance will tell you to be discreet, steer clear of your managers and subordinates and review the HR policies. That advice assumes you are going to stay with a company and can successfully navigate the political hailstorm you will fall into. The better advice – advice that is both easy and foolproof – is just don’t do it.

Don’t do it. You will want to, but don’t. What about that really cute girl who flirts with me? Don’t. What if I really dig the guy in accounting? Don’t. What about my manager who says he can “take me far”? Really don’t.

Below is a handy chart for when to pursue your office romance
Romance Table

The fact is office romance is prevalent. So is surfing for porn at work. The best advice early on is to avoid both. You may find a date, but you’re not likely to find your soul mate. In the mean time, you will have to deal with increased HR scrutiny, jealous coworkers, office rumors, productivity losses, suspicion of favoritism, potential career damage, loss of power and the threat of sexual harassment lawsuits. And that’s only if you’re dating.

DJ1.0, Contributing EditorDJ1.0 is a contributing editor of We don’t know much about DJ1.0, since he participates in the dark side anonymously. You can reach DJ1.0 at

This post was originally published on on February 27, 2007. As one of the most popular TDS posts ever, I thought it was about time to run it again.


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Tags: DJ1.0

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 freak3dot // Apr 11, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Hey no fair. That is the same picture you used in the exploritory testing slide show.

    You are totally right though. I have dated two co-workers. It may all go well without any problems at work for a while. But there will be a point where you can not keep it out of the workplace. This is usually at break up or where the other person decides they are not interested and doesn’t bother to tell you.

    There was also this interesting thing about one thinking that she was treated poorly at work. In trying to keep it out of the work place, she felt pushed away which would be acurate.

    The chart that was all No got me to lol.

    So glad I am married now,

  • 2 Dennis Gorelik // Apr 11, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Do you think that “having good time + getting additional chance of finding spouse + getting a chance to speed up your career” doesn’t worth some risk of getting complications at work?
    “Just don’t do it” – is a safe, but not necessarily good answer.

  • 3 Aaron Hodder // Apr 14, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I work at the same place as my wife…

    Seems to be all right. Maybe different strokes for different organisations…

  • 4 David Christiansen // Apr 14, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I’m not sure that there are very many dating opportunities at work that are also helpful to one’s career, but if you say there are I’ll believe you. I just don’t think it’s useful as a general rule – it seems more likely to be a rare exception.

    To be honest, I dated a co-worker when I was fresh out of school. For a so-called work romance, it was pretty tame – it wouldn’t even have made it as a subplot for a really bad daytime soap. Interestingly enough, we both quit a few months later.

    One of my co-workers recently married another of my co-workers, and there haven’t been any repercussions BUT they were incredibly discreet. No one, not even their best friends, knew they were dating until they announced their engagement. It was the most well-run covert dating operation I’ve ever seen. Most people can’t pull that off.

    Another of my co-workers got fired after a “date” with one of our colleagues. He thought there was interest, but was wrong. She reported him to HR and we never saw him again after their off-site “date.”

    I’m with freak3dot. Glad I’m not single anymore.

  • 5 Dennis Gorelik // Apr 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    1) I’m not saying that there are many opportunities to improve one’s career by using dating opportunities, but there are some.

    2) Having unofficial relationships usually help to improve official relationships. That’s why corporations sponsor corporate parties.
    Dating — is one form of unofficial relationships.

    3) What did your coworker report that caused firing another coworker? They both went on date, so it would be reasonable to either keep both of them or fire both of them.

    4) I’m not saying that work is the best environment for seeking a date / marriage. I’m just saying that’s one of the options, which shouldn’t be arbitrary ignored.

  • 6 David Christiansen // Apr 15, 2008 at 8:04 am

    1) Okay. I’ll buy that. It makes me feel kind of icky for some reason, but I’ll accept it as true enough. :->

    2) Hmm… I hadn’t thought of it that way. I guess if you’re one of those people who are extremely good at being “just friends” once a relationship goes south this might be true.

    3) He grabbed her butt. He got punted. She got promoted.

    4) I will grant you that. But I still think DJ1.0’s chart is funnier.

  • 7 Mike Corlett // Apr 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Success story: A girl in our office had been planning her wedding for *months*. A few weeks before, I became aware that a male colleague was also getting married. It was only when the collection came around I realised they were marrying each other!

    Up until then I would have said they hardly new one another….

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