Aside from your home, the next place you most likely spend the majority of your time is at work. For this reason, the possibility of meeting someone who’s a good match romantically, and with whom you have things in common, shouldn’t actually come as too big a surprise. With extreme working hours, open plan offices and exposure to more than just your immediate colleagues, it’s far easier than ever to make personal connections. So, when you find yourself falling for Robert from Finance or Mary in IT, here are some pointers from us.
Getting the signals right
Knowing whether someone is flirting with you is not always easy to determine. Self-doubt can make you believe you’re imagining it, HR warnings can start ringing in your ears and the whole experience may become overwhelming. If this sounds like you, then our first tip is to pretend that you’re out in a bar, or having dinner with friends. Imagine how the exact same behaviour from a stranger, or colleague, would make you feel then. In this situation, would you class it as flirting, would you be interested in pursuing it, or would you politely put an end to it? Trust your instincts.
Are they available?
Are they wearing a wedding ring? Have they had a partner collect them from, or attend a work event? Have they just celebrated the birth of a new child? These are just some of the big indicators as to whether your colleague is actually available for a relationship.
When we spend a lot of time with co-workers, the boundaries may occasionally blur and we convince ourselves that different rules apply to how we’d normally conduct ourselves. The illusion of a deeper familiarity than there is easily confuses issues, but remember, you usually only see a very particular side of someone’s character in the workplace.
Don’t advertise it too quickly
If you don’t want to be fodder for the office gossip mill, then it’s best to keep any blossoming romance under wraps in the very early days. This isn’t about secrecy, it has more to do with privacy and it’s the best chance you have of creating something meaningful and long lasting, if that’s what you want. People are bound to have opinions, they always do, any office romance is naturally more interesting than last quarter’s figures.
Beware accusations and suspicious minds
The seniority of the person you choose to have an office romance with will undoubtedly have an affect on how you’re perceived, should it become public knowledge. Whether this influences your choices is up to you, but don’t be surprised if you attract some less than flattering comments and assumptions.
Being accused of sleeping your way to the top is never pleasant and will influence people’s treatment of you, as will gaining the reputation of a boss who’s always hands on with employees. Whichever end of the arrangement you’re on, be sure you know what you’re doing, that it’s mutual, and that you’re not naïve about the journey you’ll have to navigate if it gets serious.
Being together 24/7
It’s all well and good saying goodbye at the end of a working day and maybe meeting up for the odd dinner or lunch, but consider that if this romance takes off, you could end up being with this person practically 24/7. If you find yourself already itching to get away, or craving your own space after an extended amount of time together, then our advice is to assess the exact nature of this romance. What are your intentions and have you clearly communicated these to the other person involved?
Know what you’ll do if it ends
Whether you end on good terms or bad ones, having little choice but to continue seeing that person every day may be tough. Think about this before you begin sharing your deepest darkest secrets with them and before you fully invite them into the landscape that is your life. Be clear, that in the early stages at least, your work comes first, that you’ll respect this and as much as possible keep your personal lives outside of the workplace.
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