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From boardroom to bedroom and back

Date

MJ Angel

In this day and age, where we are working longer hours, do we just accept that boardrooms are the new bars?

Business time: are boardrooms the new bars?

Business time: are boardrooms the new bars? Photo: Marco Del Grande

So you went there... but it didn't last. Now, instead of the photocopier for romantic rendezvous or the stationary cupboard for well-cloaked cuddles, all you want to do is run for the fire escape. Now, instead of butterflies, when you see the ex waltz past your cubicle you pray you're not today's topic 'de jour' at the water cooler...

Can you really work with your ex?

Australia's most comprehensive study into our dating habits, the Fairfax-owned RSVP Date of the Nation Report, shows despite our best intentions, we are finding love in the workplace. Only 5 per cent of us say work is the preferred way to meet a new partner, but 19 percent of us admitted to meeting our current or most recent partner at work and 40 percent of us admitted to having slept with a workmate at one time or another.

RSVP Date of the Nation

RSVP Date of the Nation

Author and RSVP psychologist, John Aiken believes increased hours spent at work are leading to more office romances. ''Office relationships blur the line between personal and professional life and things can get a little awkward if it doesn't work out, but with long work hours it's no surprise that a large proportion of people find romance in the workplace,'' he says.

We see it all the time in Hollywood with stars falling for each other and when it goes bitter, still having to work together. When Vampire Diaries stars Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder recently called it quits after three years, their relieved publicists confirmed they will remain friends and stay on the show.

Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence was recently seen with her ex Nicholas Hoult and while the romantics hoped for a reunion those closest to the pair say they were actually clearing the air before filming starts on their new film, X-Men: Days of Future.

Not bad idea, as many experts will agree. Meeting up with your ex away from the boardroom (or the bedroom) to wave the white flag and banish any weirdness can make it much easier to see them everyday.

Sammy Mason, a 41 year-old lawyer from Brisbane, went from the boardroom to the bedroom with a former co-worker.

"About 8 years ago, Jake and I we were both going for a promotion as junior partner and putting in long hours. We would see each other in court frequently and always got on great in the office," she says. "He was smart, articulate and knew how to wear a suit.

"We were assigned together on a big case, which had us working in close proximity for up to 16 or 17 hours a day. When you're working those hours, there's no time for a social life let alone dating."

Of their first romantic encounter Mason says, "I remember the night clearly. We had been mulling over case files for hours, it was late and we were both famished. We headed to our local to continue working. Dinner and a couple of bottles of wine later, Jake was stepping out of a cab and into my bedroom.

"That night we decided it was best to keep it to ourselves - our firm wasn't a fan of co-workers cohabitating. Our relationship continued for 9 months until the case was completed and I got the promotion. Jake became extremely resentful and insecure, accusing me of seducing another partner like I did him, he became incredibly critical and nasty, so I ended it and three weeks later he was dating a paralegal. Four months later I applied for a transfer interstate.

"Looking back now, I know it was an irresponsible thing to do - I put my career and reputation in jeopardy, but I'm also human and when you are consumed by long work hours it's hard to meet someone outside of work."

Dr Tina Tessina, an American psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, suggests these 'dos' and 'don'ts', if considering an office romance:

Do remember that you need your job.

Don't get involved with a married co-worker, no matter how much you might like each other.

Do be realistic and have the conversation about how you will both handle things if it doesn't work out.

Don't share intimate details with your co-workers unless you want to become the subject of office gossip.

Do understand the risk. If the relationship goes sour, you may have to change jobs.

Don't allow yourself to be used by someone in the office to gain influence or information.

Do keep your office behaviour professional at all times.

Don't cuddle up to your boss in hopes of a promotion or raise.

If things go pear-shaped can you avoid getting bogged down in the boardroom blues when you have to see 'them' every day?

And in this day and age, where we are working longer hours, do we just accept that boardrooms are the new bars?

17 comments

  • It's really awkward when your colleague is having an affair behind his/her partner's back...especially when you meet their partner when they come to pick them up to take them to dinner after work. I'm sure plenty of guilty parties who have done this before will say "it's none of your business, you don't know the full story, they are only human, so you are not in the position to dob", but let me tell you, it does not help work morale.

    Commenter
    ugh
    Date and time
    May 21, 2013, 9:20AM
    • "Don't cuddle up to your boss in hopes of a promotion or raise."
      Hmmmmm......
      Everyone who worked in a big corporation knows that certain proportion is hired just for that. And the do get promotions - no worries, despite they mostly "work from home" and no one knows what they really do.
      This is why I do not trust any accusations against Craig Thompson - it is an established practice to have internal staff whose main "duties" are similar to "escort". Paying escort by corporate credit card - it is someone's fantasy.

      Commenter
      dinkumnet
      Location
      dinkumnet.com
      Date and time
      May 21, 2013, 10:32AM
    • Attractive women are often selected for those roles which are deeply problematic for the following reasons:

      1. a more suitable person for the role (i.e. Executive Assistant, Personal Assistant and so on) is ignored in favour of someone who is more physically appealing to the person they will be working for.

      2. it deeply undermines genuinely intelligent but attractive women as their beauty causes people to second guess their ability and there is an unfair and blanket assumption they are only there to provide sex rather than be intrinsic to a particular aspect of the business.

      3. women who are employed to play the “escort” often fear being fired from their jobs which forces them to compromise and sleep with their boss even when they would rather not – whilst not technically rape, it is unspoken blackmail due to an intense power imbalance unfairly used.

      It does not help that statistically, female interviewers often deliberately do not employ attractive women on the basis that they are attractive whilst male interviewers often deliberately employ attractive women on the basis they are attractive and attractive women who are employed aren’t taken seriously whilst simultaneously having the privilege of being promoted faster if their boss is male.

      This is not the fault of attractive women but the fault of society’s positive and negative bias towards physical appearance.

      Commenter
      Male
      Date and time
      May 21, 2013, 10:55AM
    • I was in the position of the spouse coming to pick up my cheating wife. Great work place ethics especially as the workplace, a school, prided itself on complying with community values. She has lost cred at work and in the regional town we live in but our 5 kids have lost both parents, who needed us. Probably plenty saw it and didn't want to say anything as "it wasn't my business." Forgive me if I give a little cheer when I hear teachers ethics excoriated.
      Lesson is that everyones a loser when it comes to cheating.

      Commenter
      tor61
      Date and time
      May 21, 2013, 2:27PM
  • just filling space with this comment (much like the article)

    Commenter
    grant
    Location
    melbourne
    Date and time
    May 21, 2013, 9:26AM
    • Years ago I got involved with a co-worker before. We worked on different floors in different departments and in spite of his best intentions, it was an open secret. We lasted 12 months and he broke up with me a few weeks before Christmas. But I had already left the job a few weeks before then so it wasn't awkward workwise.

      I wouldn't do it again, though. Apart from the fact that there's nobody suitable at my current job, I need the line between work and personal to be very distinct. I could probably do it if we worked in different buildings and I wouldn't have to run into him every day, but even then, I would still be wary and think long and hard about it before I let myself get involved.

      My most recent ex and I didn't work together but we worked in the same industry. I don't know if I could deal with him if he came to work here. I'm still pretty cut up about the fact that he left, even 2 years later and seeing him every day would be like a knife to the heart, especially if he's moved on and has someone else.

      Overall, my current position of being voluntarily single is probably the best and smartest way to go.

      Commenter
      Audra Blue
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      May 21, 2013, 10:38AM
      • The Army outlaws fraternisation, a policy I've kept in my commercial life. It just turns out to be a mess 95% of the time. Kiss goodbye to your credibility if you do it.

        Commenter
        Sherro
        Date and time
        May 21, 2013, 10:49AM
        • It use to be liike "Melrose Place" when the Boys and Girls first started serving side by side in the early 90's. Believe me.

          Commenter
          Give Diggers back their rights
          Location
          Mitchelton
          Date and time
          May 21, 2013, 8:29PM
      • Well many of those office buildings simply lack bedrooms,dont they?

        Commenter
        Kane
        Date and time
        May 21, 2013, 10:57AM
        • It's professional suicide having an office/workplace affair. One or the other participants or an onlooker will no doubt raise the subject when it comes to promotion time or if a certain someone keeps getting special jobs and/or favours. Keep it where it belongs (anywhere but the office).

          Commenter
          Phil
          Location
          Mitchelton
          Date and time
          May 21, 2013, 11:17AM

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