Cubicle Love Connection

What to keep in mind when things heat up at the watercooler.

One of my best friends is a social worker at a community mental health center. She took the position immediately out of college, viewing it as a natural step in the development of her career.

Within the first month, she found herself working closely with a handsome speech pathologist who treated a number of her clients. Now, many case meetings and treatment-plan reviews later, they’re engaged.

Bet you’re not surprised—or shocked. Most people crave social interaction and companionship. What better place to find it than on the job? After all, office life is hospitable to the development of romance on many fronts. Daily interaction, a safe and generally dependable environment and common interests are all conditions that can ignite an initial spark between two people.

Casual interactions, from laughter over a cup of coffee or heated discussions in the conference room to mutual schmoozing at a trade show, can naturally evolve into attraction. However, reconciling the personal and professional benefits and the perils of an office affair is a formidable task.

Dating a coworker may seem an ideal solution for those who just don’t have the time to meet a potential partner. Unlike the sometimes uncomfortable surroundings of a bar or nightclub, the office usually permits romance to blossom gradually and within an atmosphere of trust and respect.

Moreover, mates who are on the same career path usually find it easier to understand one another’s needs and to empathize with the demands that the job entails—an appealing benefit in any relationship.

And an unspoken truth about office romance, be it short-lived or long-term, is that it usually provides the kind of excitement that many of us crave. Sure, flirtation is fun. And the forbidden nature of a workplace relationship adds drama to the grind of our daily lives.