When dating at work goes wrong

From awkward to train wreck, knowing how to deal with a failed workplace romance can help an employee keep his job. It's important to sit down and have a discussion after a workplace romance goes wrong. The two partners are going to see each other at some point, so having a discussion about how things will work is essential.

A final lunch date or even just a phone call can help get things sorted out. While this can be awkward at first, it's a lot better to clear the air. This will help to minimize awkwardness around the office. Unless the partners work very closely with one another, it's a good idea for each to be as scarce as possible. Breaking up, as they say, is hard to do. When a couple splits, they generally don't want to spend time together or even see each other for a while. In some cases this isn't realistic.

In other cases, it's essential. Maintain a business-like demeanor at all times. Sometimes, despite one's best intentions, things can get ugly. Breakups are hard and the emotional processing can be difficult for some people. If things start getting bad, it's time to talk to an HR person about working out the differences.

Romance In The Workplace: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Note that if there is a company policy against employee fraternization, this can be met with disciplinary action. Still, whatever disciplinary action is meted out will be better than simply dealing with another person's bad attitude. Sometimes, the fallout from a workplace romance gone wrong can't be avoided. The workplace becomes toxic. In this case, it's time to move on.

What to Do if a Relationship at the Workplace Goes Bad - Woman

Some described it as the most difficult period of their lives. In many break-up scenarios that play out in the workplace, the challenge for the two employees is how to control their emotions at work.


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Of further detriment to the professional identity of women involved in a workplace romance is the sexual double-standard. In one circumstance the former relationship partners were working in a team situation, in different states.


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  • In essence, embodying professional archetypes about what a manager is and what professional behaviour in the workplace is. The damage is rarely confined to the two employees who were in the relationship. A relationship break-up can also have a detrimental effect on work performance, whether or not the former partners work together.


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    • The breakdown of an office romance often affects co-workers, and can be socially divisive in a workplace. More dangerous is where one of the former partners deliberately harms the other, for example by discussing intimate aspects of the relationship and break-up with colleagues including lascivious sexual details. She was sitting there in a meeting with him and she said it took every ounce of concentration to not allow her anger to show through. Both during and after the relationship, the employees should be formally directed not to allow their personal biases to interfere with their professionalism.

      After the relationship has ended, there is a heightened risk of discrimination and bullying claims. Do not drive past their house. Remove photos, remove reminders of this person. Byrne explains that stimuli, whether visual or audio, will trigger an emotional reaction, so every time the two employees interact, the painful or destructive emotions are potentially reactivated. As a result, it may be appropriate for the employer to facilitate a temporary separation of the two employees, ideally with their consent.

      The rules of office romances: whatever you do, don't look down

      Separating the two employees, even by one floor or into a different work area, might make it easier for them to move on emotionally. The employer must take care not to cause detriment to either party, such as demoting one of them, removing responsibilities without their agreement, or making it difficult for them to achieve their work goals. Some employees may self-select and leave the organisation, but employers must not discriminate against one or both of the employees because of their relationship or its break-up.

      Byrne recommends that employers have clear policies about conflict of interest which explicitly address appropriate and inappropriate relationships in the workplace, in the context of power dynamics and hierarchical reporting structures. Conflicts of interest should always be disclosed early, and managed openly, with the supervision of a more senior manager.

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      Byrne notes that part of the problem is both the employees and the employer understanding the nature of the relationship, and determining at what stage a relationship has started. Byrne gave the example: For many employees, flirtatious behaviour and drunken banter at a work function can lead to sexual conduct that is either wanted, or unwanted sexual harassment. If employers do not make their expectations clear — both in terms of what behaviour is acceptable, and when and where the policies apply — staff will have no guidance, and employers will struggle to police any bad behaviour.