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Confused About Boundaries After #MeToo? Here's A Complete Guide To Ace The Office Romance Game

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You see them every day. You talk, hang out, have fun.

In the midst of this routine, you realise you have fallen for them. And if you are lucky enough, so have they.

The catch? You work in the same place.

via GIPHY

What's wrong with falling for someone at work, you ask?

Have you been watching Jim and Pam from 'The Office' and harbouring a secret desire to end up like them? Or Jake and Amy from 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'?

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but there are a lot of things which come into play when you start dating a co-worker.

How To Ace The Office Romance Game© NBC

It is not wrong; you can't help yourself from falling in love or the person you fall for; but will love be sufficient to satiate your hungry stomach when you are out of a job?

Fear not, we are here to tell you how to have the perfect office romance:

1. Have THE Talk

Before you jump into a relationship with someone you share a working relationship with, be sure to chart out what happens if you break up.

You need to remember that this is not a person you met online or at a coffee shop, went on a few dates with and when you guys didn't hit it off, stopped dating. This is not someone you can easily avoid if you want. They are not a person who can be written out of your life, because chances are that you may have to see them even after things go south for you. You might have to work closely with them in the future. 

They are going to be a constant presence in the office, where you spend the largest part of your weekday.

I do not mean to be a buzzkill or discourage you from having a meaningful relationship by talking about the negatives first, but you need to be clear on what happens if things don't work out.

You are taking a chance here; your career is at stake and theirs is too.

Figure out a plan on what works best for both of you.

2. Keep It Cool

“If you got it, flaunt it” does not earn any points from your colleagues.

Keeping a low-profile from the beginning can benefit in the long-run. The perk would be that if things don't work out, no one would be the bad one.

Having the romance on the down low will also help you avoid gossip, refraining from calling each other with cute nicknames or other terms of endearment in front of people in the office.

In fact, having a secret that just the two of you share only makes the relationship more exciting; the sly glances and unspoken words, the accidental run-ins in the elevator, the clandestine, nonchalant lunches you share.

Again, don't go overboard with the secrecy. Some people tend to go to the other extreme; ignoring or humiliating their beau in an effort to throw people off their scent. It might seem like a great idea but can lead to problems afterwards.

via GIPHY

Keep the hand-holding, kissing and hugs outside your working hours. No one is demanding that you treat your S/O with disrespect, but you can control your urge for nine hours of the day, can't you?

PDA is never appreciated in workspaces. Period.

I can't stress enough on the way some co-workers will find new ways to spread rumours or talk behind your back if they get a wind of a relationship brewing, especially if you're dating your superior/boss/senior.

3. Be Aware Of Company Policy

Having an impulsive, devil-may-care attitude won't help.

Different companies have myriad rules and policies regarding office romances. Check your company policy so that you don't have to suffer later.

I know of some couples who assumed that having a relationship at work won't affect their individual careers. Contrary to popular belief, they ended up getting an earful from the HR and were kept on probation, or in some cases, were terminated.

It is imperative to see what the company has to say about their employees having a relationship. Most of them now have a “love contract” or “cupid contract” which prohibits the employees from engaging in an affair, or a compendium of rules which they need to follow if they do pursue a relationship.

How To Ace The Office Romance Game© NBC

4. Gossip Girl

If your colleagues know you are dating someone from work, you are bound to be the hot topic of gossip. Be prepared to listen to some snarky comments or sneaky potshots at you or your partner by some extremely nosy co-workers, who will be interested in every little detail of your relationship.

Instead of being irritated and letting their words get the better of you, learn to ignore. Tell them that it is not a topic you would like to discuss in the office or during office hours.

In fact, here is when the previous point comes into play. If you keep a non-existent, nearly invisible footprint of the relationship, your co-workers won't be interested or won't even know of it.

5. That-What-Must-Not-Be-Done Clause

I know that being in close proximity to the person you love, can inspire you both to express your love physically.

As invigorating as office *** may sound, it is not worth the chance. TV Shows, novels and movies might make it look cool, but it is neither ethical nor pleasant. Please do not try to imitate Rachel and Mike from 'Suits'.

via GIPHY

The aftermath won't be pretty.

Most firms have cameras installed across the expanse of the building, some are hidden, and you won't be able to salvage your reputation or your partner's if the management gets hold of the footage.

A lengthy lecture, a probable demotion or/and an angry letter from the HR department, along with a verbal discourse from your manager is just a bonus.

6. Are You Both Ready?

Make sure that both of you are on the same page. You wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Reiterate the fact that the relationship is consensual for both from the start. Is it just a fling or an affair or are you completely and irrevocably in love?

7. Handling Conflict

Never let your personal fights and differences spill into your area of work. Strategize to keep the fights at home; creating a scene in front of your colleagues will only debase your credibility and the respect people have for you.

Have stipulated times and lives for personal and work matters.

How To Ace The Office Romance Game© ABC Studios

8. Dating The Boss (Or Junior)

For the manager:

Refrain from giving any kind of unnecessary perks to them or showing of affection or intimacy. If they are worth it and have worked for it, give them that promotion or reward.

Don't incorporate your love in the workplace, remember that another person may suffer as a result. You were given a position of responsibility for a reason; be impartial.

For the subordinate:

Do not seek preferential treatment or accept gifts from them. Be prepared to listen to gossip about you from your peers or see a change in their behaviour with you.

Believe me, your peers will talk.

You can't stop people from wagging their tongues. Do what is in your power; be professional and do your job.

Make it very clear that just because you are having a relationship who happens to be a superior/junior does not make you a pariah or a sell-out. You work hard, and you deserve the recognition when it is due. It has nothing to do with the person whom you are dating.

How To Ace The Office Romance Game© NBC

9. Taking The Plunge

If you are sure that they are the one for you, then it is time to have a talk/discussion with the HR department for seeking out alternatives for both of you. Most commonly, your departments might get changed or locations might be altered, but you won't have to sneak around or go out of a job. Doesn't love conquer all?

via GIPHY

What is a teeny-tiny inconvenience when you can spend your life with the one you love in turn?

10. The Other Side

If it doesn't work out, its fine.

Don't let petty frustrations or incompatibility in a relationship cloud your judgement or the love you once had, instead, be a harbinger for your or their professional discomfort.

People fall out of love, it is normal. You might not get along after a time if your personalities don't match.

Be professional and don't let your feelings get the better of you. Give a mysterious smile when you see them and walk away.

All the best. Thank us later.

Emraan Hashmi

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