I recently started dating a guy that works in my office. At first things were really cool because we were very low key and no one knew we were dating. Now he wants go public with our relationship and share it with our coworkers. In addition, he expects us to go to lunch together every day and sit next to each other in meetings. I am a very private person and am really uncomfortable putting our relationship on display. When I try to talk to him about it, he accuses me of being ashamed of him and our relationship, which is really not the case. I want to pursue the relationship and see where it goes, but I do not want the entire office in my business. I also do not want to wear our relationship out by spending too much time together. How can I get him to understand how I feel?
An office romance can be very tricky to manage. In many cases, companies frown upon coworkers dating and have strict policies that prohibit interoffice romances. If your company does not have a set policy and dating is allowed, I advise you to still proceed with caution and think about how this relationship can ultimately affect you, your coworkers, and the working environment.
It sounds like this guy wants to spend all his time with you. There are some women who welcome this type of attention, but it would drive me nuts. I need my personal space. While I do not have a problem with lunch every now and again, I think you need to be careful sitting together in meetings and openly displaying your relationship while you are on the clock. During meetings your focus should be company business, and you do not want to appear distracted. And depending on what position you two hold in the company, you do not want to send the wrong message to other employees. You also do not want to block out coworkers and other work relationships that you might need to develop to further advance your career.
Spending too much time together at work and at home can become a little too close for comfort. I believe people and relationships need space to breathe. And Lord forbid you two have an argument or fall out for some reason, how would this impact the working relationship and affect the workplace? Will you be able to coexist if you have an argument or if things do not work out?
I am like you when it comes to privacy. I do not like having people all up in my personal business. Making your relationship “public knowledge” can be risky. Everyone from your coworkers to your supervisors may be privy to the ongoings of your relationship. And right or wrong, people may make judgments about you and how you manage your personal life and relationships.
Ok, so I am not saying that all office romances are bad and do not work. I know couples who have met in the workplace and have positive relationships and/or marriages. I think you need to be clear about your boundaries and expectations from the beginning and know the possible risks. If this guy does not understand your position and is not willing to see this from your point of view, you may want to reconsider the relationship altogether before it goes public!
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.