Lost somewhere in our most cherished childhood classics, behind the castles, knights and ball gowns, are the insidious plot lines that are the “cubicle courtships.” But I guess putting the glass slipper on Barb in Accounting doesn’t exactly have that fragrant, fairy-tale feel. That, or the timeworn maxim, “Don’t poop where you eat,” removed the shimmer from the show completely. The truth is that work romances can work, and many a wedding toast will attest to this. But the question therein: Should those work romances be worked for? Should you rebel against company policy, explicit or otherwise, in pursuit of your own “happily ever after”?
The short answer: Yes, so long as you write your own script like an adult, and not a senseless fable chaser. The long answer: If you find yourself in a position where a mental assessment between career and courtship is spearheading your journey forward, congratulations: you’re an adult, with adult ideas and adult capabilities. You’ve likely worked long enough in your career to have both tested and challenged your competence. And if you’re asking yourself the question of whether Prince (or Princess) Charming is worth the pursuit, it means you have something more to lose than a glass slipper. But love is the most potent of potions, and neither a call from Human Resources, nor a disapproving side-eye from a colleague, can ever really tarnish the pungent elixir of passion.
You may not be a Capulet, but there is a cap you let vulnerable to flux in your professional head space should you opt for dating within your company. Engaging in an office romance takes up much of the mental energy conventionally reserved to declining old Facebook event invites and making strides in Candy Crush. The most inconsequential events, from stolen glances in the hallways to response times in email threads, will be weighted by a stockpile of emotions, none of which have any influence in facilitating said professional events. And that’s just the prepossessing burden that comes from attraction. Action is a whole new ball game (how quickly we moved from royal balls to ball games; the limit for metaphors in love does not exist).
When it comes to dating in the workplace, action consists of two big milestones: (1) when to make the first move, and (2) when to go public. If your primary concern replaces the “when” with “if,” don’t do it, abort mission, send the carriage back home, sit back down on the bench. Dating, whether in the workplace, a distant castle, or somewhere on the Facebook feed you abandoned to read this post, only ever works out well when both parties are sure of what they want. Not sure? Don’t experiment with your job on the line! And if you’re sure? If you know that you have found the person worth the inactive Twitter timelines, if you’re comfortable with never getting past Level 87 in Candy Crush, if you know that this relationship could potentially ruin your 9-5 three months from now, but not giving it a shot would be a greater pain…then go for it.
The bottom line is this: Love is not the illustrious pursuit at the wrong end of some universally implied corporate code. Love and romance are human things that humans do, and if you’ve been promoted in life to a paying job equipped with bosses, colleagues and fax machines, then you’re probably responsible enough to navigate love without destructing the life you’ve built. Whether that love exists in the workplace, or anywhere else, is just a locational tidbit.