Office Romance: When Does It Make Sense to Mix Business With Pleasure?

Maybe you're not the type to pursue online dating, but have you considered office romance? Romance at work can be tricky, and maybe you've looked at office romance advice before. You may want to give office romance another try — four out of every 10 people meet their spouse at the office through office romance.

A study by shows that almost half of us have been romantically tied to someone at work and that workplace relationships often can be successful; roughly one-quarter result in long-term relationships and even marriage.

Dennis Powers, author of The Office Romance: Playing With Fire and Not Getting Burned (AMACOM, 1998), says it's time that businesses acknowledge that office romances are acceptable and normal. He predicts that many businesses will lighten up and establish guidelines that allow employees to manage workplace dalliances.

Yet, when it comes to office romance, most experts, particularly human resources managers and employment lawyers, believe that romantic liaisons in the workplace can be a lose-lose situation if you're not careful.

According to a poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 58 percent of executives view office romances as unprofessional; 38 percent believe they end in disaster; and many more believe that they wreak havoc on morale. And, let's not forget that office affairs have the potential to lead to sexual harassment lawsuits.

So, if you're going to mix business with pleasure, heed some advise from the experts.

Maintaining the Balance

Joni Johnston, Ph.D., CEO of, says you need to be on your best behavior when you're involved with someone at work. Keep your relationship as professional as possible during the day. That means no public displays of affection. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than seeing co-workers smooching.

If you find it difficult to keep your hands off your office amour, just remember how hard you've worked at your career. You don't want to jeopardize it. The time spent flirting or sending e-mail back and forth can affect your job. The Society for Human Resource Management advises employees to remain focused at work.

The Rules Girls, Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, authors of The Rules For Online Dating: Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right in Cyberspace (Pocket Books. 2002), advise women to respond to only one out of every four non-business e-mails while in the office. You never know who may have access to your e-mail.