Ideally your work is one of the things you’re passionate about, and what’s a relationship if not sharing your passions with someone else?
One of the most oft-heard phrases in the world of commerce is: ‘Don’t mix business and pleasure.’ In most people’s eyes, relationships and business partnerships are separate entities, and rightly so. Both require very different things from the two people involved; yet, one could also say they are remarkably similar. Yet, couples meeting at work or choosing to run a corporation together is not a recent concept. The workplace is often cited as one of the top places to meet a partner, while shared businesses come about due to various reasons, ranging from investing in a mutual dream, to a natural solution when one partner has limited opportunities on the job market.
Should you dip your pen in the company ink?
Meet at work, get married
We spend 10 hours a day in the office; it’s nearly inevitable that this situation will occur. In fact, a recent study has shown that relationships that begin in the workplace are more likely to end in marriage.
We went to the experienced for their opinion: A 20-something professional in the service industry, who’s been dating a co-worker for a little over a year, summed it up succinctly, “When you start out dating, the excitement of keeping it hidden, keeping it a secret, the stolen glances, the secret meetings, it all adds to the rush you get with this new person in your life, but it all depends on the sort of workplace culture your company has.”
“It really is refreshing to be with someone who knows exactly what your day is like, who knows when you’ve had a rough day at work and you need some space, someone who understands that the meeting you cancelled date night for was really make or break. Ideally your work is one of the things you’re passionate about, and what’s a relationship if not sharing your passions with someone else?”
In sight, out of mind
He summed up the cons quite well too: “The biggest problem most people face is, that it’s easy to take the other person for granted. It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘I see her all the time’ when really you’ve hardly had half an hour for each other in the past couple of days.”
When asked about the intricacies and how to get around them, he said
“It’s very important to find the right balance of being around each other and being ‘with’ each other. When you normally have a really stressful deadline to hit, you hope to vent to your significant other and de-stress a little, but in this case she might be under the exact same pressures so it’s not always that straightforward.”
So, what about starting a business together?
The real high-risk, high-reward situation
When it comes to joint entrepreneurship, the failure or success of not only the business, but often the relationship, is at stake. On the one hand, you are unlikely to find a business partner you know as well, or can trust as much, elsewhere.
The financial benefits can also come into play. Studies have shown that upon entering into a business venture together, income tends to go up for both parties, especially the female, reducing income inequality between the spouses.
Split the cash, split the cost
However, couples may be unable to prevent the business from running over into their everyday, personal life, and the resulting frustration may lead to the dissolution of the relationship. This can also impact the company’s workings – once the couple have split, what happens?
They may find that they have to shut down a profitable start-up because they cannot stand the other’s presence, though there have been cases of couples running the business together even after they split up.
A young entrepreneur whose boyfriend doubles as her business partner, shared her feelings on the subject:
“Some days it makes me respect him more. Some weeks, I forget I have a boyfriend. Some days the personal love takes over the professional angst. Other days, I can’t have a date night because we’re too busy working. Between the oscillation from wanting to rip each other’s throats out and making time for love, we’re never bored!”
If you’re thinking about it, think it through
If you plan to date someone in the workplace, it helps to be aware of a few things beforehand:
1. Don’t let love get in the way of work or vice versa: It is still important to keep the two separate. It’s not okay to go easy on a partner for not meeting professional expectations and it’s definitely not alright if you forego date night three weeks in a row to work. Balance.
2. Think twice before getting involved: We’re not warning against it, we’re simply asking you to take a close look at the person you want to date and be sure they are worth it. The risks of dating a co-worker include office gossip and awkward situations if things dwindle. Not to mention, make sure they are on the same wavelength as you [or else you might be in deep trouble].
3. Take note of company policy: This should be number one. Company laws may be the biggest deterrent – some forbid it altogether, while others tolerate it as long as it isn’t blatantly obvious. However, as the workplace becomes more casual with time, these stringent conditions are no longer applicable in new, younger companies.
Want to know what other questions you might ask yourself before getting involved with a colleague? Here’s a great report by The Independent ‘When a colleague becomes a lover’
Clearly, relationships at work have the potential to succeed or fail just like any other. But how do the successful ones keep it going? Sound like a cliché but mutual respect, trust, discretion and a clear separation of work and home life seem to be the key for most successful work-love relationships.
What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments: Are workplace relationships are a recipe for a dream or a disaster?
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