Love at work

So, you’ve watched The Office (US) and think you might be able to find the Jim to your Pam, or vice versa, at work. We hate to burst your bubble, but the likelihood of that happening is roughly 0.0000156%. Not to mention the consequences if the relationship goes sour. The Mix are here to talk you through work romances.

A young woman is playing table tennis. She is thinking about love at work. This is a wide-angle image.

Falling in love at work

First things first, is love at work okay with the company? Some companies have a no-romance clause in their employment contracts. So it’s best if you check that out before you start snogging Ben from accounting. You don’t wanna end up with a sexual harassment lawsuit the next day. Just in case, we’d recommend delaying going Instagram (or any social media tbh) official for a while.

Next, do you really fancy them, or are you just bored at work? We recommend you spend time doing some self-reflection before potentially screwing up your career in the long term.

“If you’re someone who falls in love every couple of weeks, then it’s best to steer clear of your coworkers,” says Beverley Stone, a relationship psychologist. “However, if it’s really rare for you to like someone and you’ve fallen hard for a colleague, go for it. Just make sure you’ve thought about whether it’s a good idea before hand

Then – sorry to cut the fantasising short– but you need to think hard about how you would handle things if it didn’t work out. Would you be able to break up with them if you’re not feeling it after a few dates? What if they dump you but you still have to see them everyday? Could you handle that? Only proceed if the answer to all these questions are yes.

I fancy my boss

If you can’t stop thinking ‘I fancy my boss’, you should know that it’s a pretty common occurrence. Having a crush at work is nothing to be ashamed of. Boss = power. Power = sexy. This equation is multiplied by ten if they’re a few years older. Acting on those desires, however, needs to be guided by your brain, not your hormones.

Be honest with yourself here. “Ask yourself, ‘am I in love with this person full stop, or am I just in love with the image of this person at work?’” says Beverley. Do you fancy their power as your boss? Or the person beyond the role? And if it’s both, can you handle that power imbalance outside office hours?

At the end of the day, they’re your boss. But out of work, you’re an independent individual who deserves an equal relationship. How would you feel about giving crap to your boss if they cancel a date last minute to go out with their friends? Or if they order you about when you’re not in the office? You could end up feeling pretty pissed off with your boss. Figure out how you feel and set boundaries before you start playing footsie in the office (or going at it in the stationary cupboard).

When should we tell the rest of the office about our love at work?

Definitely not straight away. Don’t burst in after your first date, clutching your chest, and announce dramatically ‘WE’RE IN LOVE’. Your best bet is to make sure it’s ‘serious’ first. We’d say wait roughly three months to see how things are going, and then start to tell people.

A word of warning – if footsie in the office does turn into seductive eye contact, people WILL eventually find out, so don’t try to keep it a secret forever. “Make sure you tell people before they make up their own story about what’s happened,” says Beverley. “It’s only fair that your team knows because, like it or not, it’ll affect the dynamic. Be prepared to be talked about.” Do you really want that kind of workplace stress?

It goes without saying that you should always conduct yourself in a professional manner at work. Never let your relationship affect things. We’re pretty sure it won’t go down well with anyone if you’re suddenly the boss’s favourite.

What if the relationship goes sour?

If you get dumped

Being on the passive side of a breakup is never fun. And seeing your dumper on a daily basis doesn’t exactly help the healing process. But it can be made more bearable. As corny as it sounds, having a positive mindset can help you get through just about anything.

“Try not to spiral into negative thinking and lower your self-esteem,” says Beverley. “Catch yourself whenever you think ‘it’s because I’m unattractive’, or ‘they don’t like me’ and change the thought to ‘we have different values, it didn’t work out, but it will with someone else’”.

If you’re the dumper

Riiiiight, we’re not gonna lie, this could be awkward. Make sure you have an honest chat with them, but be nice. Something along the lines of ‘you’re a lovely person, but I don’t think we have enough in common’. Then lay out a game plan about how you can get on with your jobs.

Be prepared for a range of emotions. They could cry or get really mad or even stomp off. Whatever the situation, you’ll eventually need to work through that together. Sit down and thrash things out – the last thing either of you want is for this to damage your careers.

If you find yourself in a particularly difficult spot after a workplace crush turned into romance, Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law. You can call them on 0300 123 1100. 

How to stop fancying someone at work

Having a crush on a coworker is a toughie. While there’s nothing wrong with picturing them sweeping you off your feet and taking you far, far away, you should always remember that fantasy isn’t reality. You can long for something you don’t have, but at the end of the day it’s just longing. Your real-life relationship would probably be nothing like you’ve imagined it in your head.

If making a move is gonna mess things up at work, you might want to casually reduce the amount of time you spend with them, no matter how intense the crush feels. Just be careful not to avoid them altogether. That’ll just make the feelings (and fantasy) even more vivid.

The best answer to How to stop fancying someone at work? Redirect your thoughts to all of the negative things that would come from that relationship. Like, sure it would be great to have some casual sex with Ryan Reynolds, but what about his wife? What about the inevitable media circus? Does he even have time to do anything other than work, anyways

Lastly, talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Preferably, a friend you DON’T work with. Getting it all out there inevitably makes things easier to handle. Plus, they should be able to help you find some perspective on your workplace crush. They may even suggest meeting new people to get your mind off your office crush. 

Next Steps

  • Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law. 0300 123 1100
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Holly Bourne

Updated on 29-Jan-2022