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NgCareers: The Professional Approach to Work Place Romance



Just recently, I had a friend ask me what I felt about having an affair or a relationship in the office. You see she was attracted to her boss who was equally attracted to her. Oh and by the way, the boss in question is single(are there still single men out there?), very sexy and of course, searching. She did not think there was anything wrong with it and besides, her biological clock is fast ticking away. The sad thing was that there was a strict policy against any sort of romance in the office. Her question got me thinking and I decided to do some research as to why organizations, some not all, have policies against dating.
I came up with this.

First, we should start by summarizing the reasons why you wouldn’t want to allow dating or romance in the workplace:

1. Potential cases of sexual harassment
2.possible cases of retaliation
3.Impact on co-worker morale
4. Distraction
5. Favoritism
6. Drama resulting from the breakup
7. Rumor mill
8. Decline in productivity etc.

The list is endless. If it is such an unpredictable and dicey issue, then why do so many employers tolerate office romance?

To begin with, it will be very difficult if not impossible for an employer to stop love in the workplace. No man has the ability to dictate the working of love… well, unless you are ‘cupid’. Even that is a myth. This only means that the odds are definitely in favor that someone will meet the love of their life at work, it may not exactly be that endless love but one that gives you fond memories. Oh where were we, I am a hopeless romantic so I sometimes can get carried away with such issues.

Another thing is that at work, we are more ourselves than we are at the bar or that social gathering; at work, we have little or no room for pretense as we are faced daily with trials that constantly grate on our weaknesses. It is at the work place that we can gauge a man’s personality, values and behavior. Now if so much is revealed at the office, give me one good reason why love won’t be in the air.

Even if you forbid romantic relationships in your organization, you still can’t stop it nor can you control what someone does after work hours. While reading up on this issue, I learnt that some companies discovered that their employees tend to be more loyal, happier and creative if they meet and fall in love with someone at the office. According to Andrea Poe in her expose titled “Office Romance: HR’s Role,” she stated that Southwest Airlines is a typical example of a company that supports office romance. Of 26,900 employees in their payroll, 1,600 are married and the surprising thing is that they actually met and courted on the job. So here is my question-If you are going to marry and stay with someone for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as you could with them?

Personally I think the solution to managing workplace romance is for the concerned parties i.e. the individuals and employers to set guidelines. I’d like to start with the individual. If it ever crosses your mind to consider dating someone at work, try to use CLEAR common sense. I lay emphasis on CLEAR because when you are “in love” you are mostly blind because of your rose-tinted glasses and your foggy brain, you don’t always approach issues with a CLEAR mind.

Before delving deeply into the strong grips of love, you need to set your guidelines and here are some things to reflect on:
1. Dating your boss or subordinate is a NO No!
2. Save the public display of affection (PDA) for after work
3. No slacking or compromising on the job
4. No pillow talk at work
5. No sexual behavior at work(even after hours when you think the both of you are alone.)
6. Come to a decision on how you will handle breakup (there is no beating around the bush on this one; you need to consider this because it the probability of it happening is great you have to come up with a contingency plan.)
7. Decide if you want to keep the relationship a secret.

Furthermore, beyond the individual, the employer (human resources) needs to set up some laid down rules which will undoubtedly vary from one organization to the next depending on the values and ideology of the company on romance in the workplace.

There are some things they’ll need to address and they include:
1.What is acceptable and what is not as regards office romance?
2. How will “monitoring” the policy be implemented?
3. What are the consequences for problems caused by ‘office romance gone bad’? Slap on the wrist? Reassignment? Termination of appointment?
4. What measures will be taken to confirm if the relationship was one of mutual consent and not sexual harassment of any form?
5. Will couples be asked to create a “love contract” establishing their relationship is not forced, how it will be handled on during work hours and what will be done if there is a break-up?

What I am trying to say is-you need to ask yourself where your company stands on the issue of office romance. For situations like the one at the beginning of this article, I’d advise that both parties sit down and consider all of the points mentioned here and decide on the best line of action. Sometimes, we have to give up on ‘love’ for love, other times we close our eyes and jump (Jumping can include quitting the job or damning the consequences).

However, whatever line of action you decide to take make sure you set clear guidelines and follow them. Of course we are all adults and should know how to behave appropriately and professionally on the job, but when cupid casts his spell on a couple, common sense can quickly go out the door unless clear guidelines are in place.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Bobby Deal


  1. Chuckleberry

    August 20, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Hmmm….very sensitive issue , how do u meet a good guy and can’t date becos it’s office romance et al ? Really, some jobs don’t give you time for plenty socialising, coupled with the scarcity of good men these days. You need to keep your eyes on the prize.
    But then again, I had an experience and I didn’t like it one bit. Guy and I dated, wonderful experience and our friends thot we were just perfect. Then we hit rock bottom….no drama at work sha. Everything low key, till he got married months after…..and everyone was like ehen…..wetin happen nah!!!…..and I went under cover for awhile. Kai.
    Please I can’t deal so for me once bitten is more than enough. No office romance . I ll wait till one person leaves or something….. Can’t shout..

  2. Ephi

    August 20, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve got a few colleagues married to people in the same company – only one couple work in the same business unit, the others do not and so likely do not see each other at work. Unfortunately for one couple the marriage didn’t work out and things became really awkward, the lady ended up resigning.
    I know in most Nigerian banks, once you both decide to get married, one of you would have to resign. I’ve never felt that was a fair policy sha especially in Nigeria where unemployment is high but it is what it is. Just be rational and have a clear head before deciding to go ahead. Personally I do not recommend it but you never know where love would find you, my 2 cents.

    • Lilo

      August 21, 2015 at 2:28 am

      You are more of the exception not the rule sweetie. Count yourself lucky. Most office romance deals end up horribly.

  3. jummai

    August 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Well I am a living testimony of one who found love at the work place, and we are happily married (4 years) and still work in the same Organisation. You never know where you will find your true love.

    • Lilo

      August 21, 2015 at 2:29 am

      You are more of the exception not the rule sweetie. Count yourself lucky. Most office romance deals end up horribly. …

  4. Juniperlee

    August 20, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    ABEGGGGGGIIIIIIII Office romance is extremely UNPROFESSIONAL!!!!! It goes against work ethics and professional character! Everybody should concentrate on the job they are there to do, instead of reducing productivity and costing the company a lot by diverting work time to romance rendezvous. When professionals and ethics experts say no romance or sexual affairs in work place, they are not stupid! When they are in that hot steamy, euphoric stage of love and romance, productivity is decreased because you guys cant concentrate, waiting for the next get away time to come as soon as possible.When the relationship doesn’t work out, need I say more? Even when the relationship is working out but going through tough times, issues abound. I notice that people that engage in office romance and affairs are consistently the least productive. If every professional actually behave professionally there would be nothing like office BS romance. I see them in the office every time and there are always issues!

    • arewa

      August 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Office romance does not necessarily reduce productivity, especially if the parties are matured and responsible. i did it and but for scanty stolen moments in the office ( like a phone call to say wao babe you look good today and go out buy me lunch and quickly drop on my desk), we were both too busy for any nonsense especially as i had a boss who was a no nonsense person and his work schedule did not permit such frivolities. we were more of weekend lovers; almost as if we were not working in the same office.

  5. arewa

    August 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I work in a sector where marriage is allowed among colleagues; no official pronouncement about office romance. Incidentally too I am married to a colleague. Yea no romance in the office, matter of fact until after marriage only a few people knew abt us for a certainty though gossip flew here and there but were evasive.

    But like Ephi mentioned, what if it does not work. I have a couple of colleagues who did not end the relationship so well and I find that the women in particular were deeply hurt especially as both guys went ahead and married som1 else without properly disengaging from them (apparently out of fear).

    my 2kobo advice is if it is not something you are sure about, maybe the women should not bother going into it, the embarrassment after the guy marries som1 else is not very nice. If it leads to marriage and you remain in the same company maybe to keep your marriage on a very low profile in the office too..

  6. Bunmi

    August 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    i’m guilty sha

    • [email protected]

      August 20, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      me too. I dated someone in the office and we handled it in a mature manner. I worked in the CSU department and we didn’t see each other often but I noticed that he always walked by once in a while and looked a tad jealous if I was smiling at a male customer (that’s my job!). We didn’t get married and it was difficult emotionally for me. Was glad when I had to leave the office on a transfer. We became friends afterwards…after a looooooooong time of healing.

  7. iyke

    August 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Office romance…..I dread put me in a very awkward position some years back as a graduate trainee….learnt my lesson in a very bad way.
    Was secretly dating a senior employee on the 3rd floor of my office and another colleague in another Office building.None of them knew…All was going well until Miss B’s team was moved to my office floor….I thought I could manage it until Ms A’s team too was moved to my floor and she was right in front of me…
    I couldn’t focus on my job anymore….couldn’t deal with the embarrassment whenever my manager disapproves my work as Ms A could hear everything.
    I knew it was going to be a matter of time before hell would swallow me…,I had no other choice but to quit my job and ran.???

    • Damseldam1

      August 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Ahhahaha that what they call ojukokoro in yoruba lol ?

  8. leftbrained

    August 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Thats one why i wonder what goes through the mind everyday of those who have their fiance or wife working in an office. I dont trust such women especiallh those who are in sales and marketing.
    Look at all this confessions, hmmm

    • Diuto

      August 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      You don’t trust women in sales so the guys are innocent. Grab a seat

  9. bawo

    August 20, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    My colleagues at jumia used to date each other too.. In fact they still do.. Company doesn’t mind .. And jumia babes are so thirsty ! One called I.E that works in customer service is the thirstiest of them all.. Heard she had “office romance ” with more than 6 guys in that office in exchange for free ride and little change..

    • Jennifer

      August 20, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Which kain gulma be dis. Abeg sharrap

    • Floss

      August 20, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Hmmm! Shade of life! I know who typed this and funny enough u are one of her office buddies o. The babe no try sha.. I hope she has changed before karma bites her butt.

    • PH Boy

      August 21, 2015 at 11:58 am

      This is wrong on all levels for you to call out people like this. You and your bitter/ twisted sensibility.

    • Takeseveralseats

      August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Aunty/Uncle Gbeborun!!, Mr/Ms. Marimaso!!! Gistmonger iss geh ju!!

  10. Lilo

    August 21, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Just be weary of the serial office lover boy. The one that always finds his conquest in the office and after dating at least 5 different girls in the same office, he is still single. These men are called opportunist /commitment phobics who always seek out proximity convenience when picking dates. Plus a guy that is willing to pee where he drinks (code for dating at work) can’t be trusted.

  11. BlueEyed

    August 21, 2015 at 3:05 am

    The only professional approach to work place romance is not to engage in it at all, it is completely unprofessional and very unproductive.

  12. oyindee

    August 21, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Am I the only one that thinks there another situation called the office affair where one party is married and they both know it’s not going to last,,and when it ends both parties walk away in a win-win situation……

  13. mamahenz

    August 21, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Oyindee, u r so on point. one married, the other single, plenty benefits, love ends, everybody answer him papa name, no drama. zip.

  14. Jhennique

    August 21, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Thankfully i work in a firm that will pay a couple 2m naira if they are both staff.
    No prohibition to office romance. Lots people meet and marry colleagues and are both still owrking here………………….was involved in office romance once. Didnt work out but boy was it fun! and i do prefer tp keep it private.

    • Jhennique

      August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      I mean if two members of staff get married

  15. adewale

    August 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    never knew she was just waiting patiently for my rocky relationship to crash and it eventually happened. so she came for me and we started the office romance on a low key and blew it above the roof. i thought it was part of on the job training and allowance so i ensured every office corner, rest room and desk were judiciously used….and when it was ripe for me to move i moved on with sharp speed and cut her off like cancer. really hope she has stopped crying. don’t judge me because i was only angry because she was happy when my previous relationship parked off.

  16. Jk

    August 22, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Why do u think she was happy your relationship packed up. Im sure she was happy u r a free guy now and wants a good relationship. She only cried cos she realised while hoping for the best, she was fooled by u. STOP feeling cool with urself.

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