Workplace Romance

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Ok fine, you met your spouse at work and it worked out beautifully and now you have three kids and it’s all been amazing. While I’m happy for you, you’re in the minority on this issue. Full disclosure: my wife worked at my workplace while we were dating and I was in a more senior position. I was young and stupid and didn’t even think about the risk, and I might add that it turned out wonderfully. The exception that proves the rule.

However, having seen this more than a few times, it usually ends badly.

Here’s why I recommend you find your romantic partners somewhere other than where you work.

Power imbalance

If you are in a senior position the question of consent always arises. Could your junior actually resist your romantic advances? Did they feel that their advancement could be hampered (or advanced) by reciprocating?

Maybe the relationship started out beautifully, and there was no question that it was fully consensual, but if/when it ends, this becomes an immediate concern. Is your junior now in the doghouse? And if not, do others perceive that they are? What if they’re hurt and/or vindictive? You can see how this gets complicated very quickly.


As soon as you’re in a romantic relationship at work, everyone around you perceives that you’ve lost your judgment about decisions that effect your partner. They assume your heart sparkle will receive preferential treatment, whether they actually do or not. Which, let’s be honest, they usually do.


Whatever you think, and despite congratulations from your co-workers, you immediately lose credibility as a leader when you start dating someone at work. You’re viewed as someone with less than fantastic judgment, and your fairness is immediately suspect.

Like the restaurant manager who started dating someone in the kitchen who miraculously started getting weekends off and enjoyed other perks that no one else did. Her detractors now had legitimate cause to complain to senior leaders, which they did. That manager gave herself a mortal credibility wound that she never recovered from.

Why put a sword in the hand of your enemies?

It’s hard enough to build a business without doing stupid stuff and generating self-inflicted wounds. So, do your very best to leave romance out of your job description.

Just my two cents. Let me know if you disagree!

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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