Sorry, Managers, You Don’t Get to Date at Work

by Evil HR Lady on December 11, 2019

Office-based television shows would have you believe that the only place you can possibly find love is at work. And you’d also think that HR spends all day monitoring the romantic relationships at work. 

None of this is true. People do find love at work–15 percent of people met their significant other at work–but that means most people don’t find love at the office. And frankly, HR has better things to do than monitor your romance. But, some companies do monitor the romance going on. And some companies prohibit it altogether.

I have no problems with two single people who have no reporting relationship and no influence over each other dating. But, even that can become sketchy if things start to fall apart. But, we take chances for love, right?

But, when managers start dating their direct reports, it can become problematic. When senior executives date anyone within the company, it can be problematic. It doesn’t even matter that technically, the CFO’s love interest is in marketing and reports up to the Chief Marketing Officer, and not the Chief Financial Officer. None of us doubt that the CFO has the power to make everyone’s life miserable if wanted.

To keep reading, click here: Sorry, Managers, You Don’t Get to Date at Work

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lady H December 11, 2019 at 12:58 pm

I’d like to add a fourth point that when your clientele is a vulnerable population (health care and assisted living is one; but police/corrections would probably also qualify) there is a problem if you don’t have a ‘healthy scepticism’ against your colleagues.

Imagine you’re a nurse, and you know your significant other was the nurse on this patient before you – and the patient’s chart doesn’t list that a certain medication has been given during your s.o.’s shift even though it should have been.
Are you reporting them to your mutual supervisor? Are you giving the medication anyway and faking their signature? Are you going to give the medication presuming your s.o. wouldn’t forget to write it down that he had? Or are you going to assume that your s.o. wouldn’t forget to give the medication, but might forget to write it down?
How much will trust/loyalty or ‘fear of a fight with your s.o.’ influence that decision?


Dorothy Young December 11, 2019 at 2:19 pm

One big issue is that everybody has an anecdote about a couple they know who met at work and who’s been blissfully married for 60 years. They conveniently forget the horror stories. I tell people not to date at work unless they are BOTH willing to lose their jobs.

I worked for a Fortune 10 company that has no official anti-nepotism rules and saw numerous bad situations. I had married couples, siblings, parents and children who all reported to me. I once had to demote a supervisor who took her sister’s side in a labor issue over the sister’s supervisor. I once had to deal with husband and wife drug addicts. Thank heavens I’m retired!


Analyst Robot December 11, 2019 at 3:58 pm

With the example of “I’m the CFO and Sally works for the CMO, so it’s OK if we date…” I worked at a company where it was total Bro Culture, so when the CFO got tired of “Sally”, he just went to the CMO and asked him to fire Sally.
I saw this happen TWICE! Instead of breaking up, the executives just asked his bros to fire the girlfriend.
Dating at work is like lighting the fuse on a bomb, it’s going to eventually explode. It’s not like TV or the movies. Just say no.


MariaRose December 11, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Good advice but most people realize this in hindsight. Unless one works in a solitary position away from contact with coworkers, relationships will develop at work. The trick is to end contact with coworkers, once you have signed off for the day, in other words, work together but they are not part of your social personal life. Personal relationships and work do not mix well in the long run, no matter how many stories you hear about meeting your future spouse at work. There’s plenty of options to meet people for social relationships outside the workplace, in the workplace you only have to do the job together.


Meriann December 12, 2019 at 8:27 am

It is a discrimination of love. If two people fall in love and work together it’s ok. In the US there is always this tendency to bigotry. You don’t accept love in a company between coworkers (although manager and employee) but do accept carrying fire arms. Just weird


Janet December 12, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Hope I’m not being pedantic – there appears to be a type in your sub-heading in the article: “Hooray fo love!”


Mark M December 15, 2019 at 3:02 am

I think one of my subordinates has a crush on me, which is made extra awkward because that would mean he’s closeted gay. Well, actually, the awkward part is that he’s new to the workforce and made some general faux pas and missed some big stuff in his work, so he’d kind of a mess, so I wish we could have more honest conversations with him without him staring at me like we’re on a date.


NM December 17, 2019 at 6:35 pm

That’s awkward all right, but if he hasn’t actually said or physically done anything inappropriate to you, you might just have to take it in stride, adopt a stony demeanor and speak firmly to him. Keep in mind that rising above one’s charges’ psychoses is part and parcel of being a leader and/or master. This situation is not uncommon: for example male teachers with female students who fall for them. We all have to act appropriately.


NM December 17, 2019 at 6:31 pm

I think this is extremely reductionist. I also thought that the rule which Katie Hill was under investigation for possibly breaking – that she couldn’t date a Congressional staffer – when she resigned was ridiculous. Of course it was the rule, she knew about it and she broke it, so it is difficult to have sympathy for her where that is concerned.

Office romances are problematic because modern yuppie society has moved to a model of serial monogamy. Call me a reactionary but I grew up hearing that things like fornication and adultery were immoral. In other words, you date someone as a premarital courtship or you are just friends, but you don’t get too close until you tie the knot. That’s all.

But of course that’s not how we operate nowadays. I understand that. The problem is that staff members want to have their cake and eat it, too: they want to have deep, complex extra- or pre-marital romantic relationships and they don’t want to have to suffer the consequences when things go sour and they’re “herded” into fixed posts within a hierarchical structure of which they had complete foreknowledge. What *I* have a problem with is HR departments infantilizing staff members by trying to regulate this chaotic playpen like it’s a kindergarten class.

So what would I suggest? For starters, companies should have no dating policies or guidelines whatsoever, apart perhaps from the prohibition of *married* couples working in the same department or occupying different spots on the same chain of command. Adults can do whatever they like… ON THEIR OWN TIME. But if wind is caught of favoritism and it appears to be related to a romantic relationship, then call both parties in and treat that as bribery, for BOTH of them. If a romantic relationship goes sour and that impacts the work environment, treat it as a sexual harrassment case. If someone needs to be let go – or multiple someones need to be let go – then go ahead with it.

The sexual revolution meant that consenting adults would make choices about their *private* lives. So be it, but then let them sleep in the beds they’ve made, literally as well as metaphorically.


Amar December 26, 2019 at 6:49 am

Nice advice but if you love someone then love should be outside the office. In the office, you should give your time to the office. Outside the office give your time to your love, family, and friends.
If you are love someone or giving to time your love in the office then the manager should increase their office time or terminate both the persons.


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