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Dear Abby on Workplace Romance

Dear Abby answers Workforce questions about workplace romance.

July 1, 1998
Related Topics: Policies and Procedures
Chances are, you've read Abigail Van Buren's "Dear Abby" column at least once. So you're already familiar with her no-nonsense approach to life's many problems and dilemmas. Below, she answers Workforce questions.

Q: What advice do you give to people regarding office romance?
A: I warn those who will listen to avoid office romances whenever possible.

Q: What advice do you give for people in an office romance?
A: Be professional -- and keep your private life private.

Q: What advice for co-workers?
A: I tell them, "Mind your own business. Stay out of it. Anger and resentment will impede your own productivity. You need not approve, but you should try not to be judgmental. Stay cool."

Q: Is there an age when these are more or less likely to happen?
A: No. People of every age find themselves naturally attracted to the opposite sex.

Q: What are the most typical outcomes of these relationships? Is having a relationship a sure way to get fired?
A: Romances in the workplace are like romances in the world at large. There are more failed romances than successes. It's my understanding that unless there are specific policies in place forbidding employees to date, you can't fire an individual for that. So, it isn't necessarily a "sure way to get fired." However, if the breakup is very embarrassing and painful, the rejected party may quit.

Q: Are most office romances secret?
A: Not for long!

Q: Do people seem to find love at work more often now because they're working longer hours?
A: People find love wherever they spend a lot of time together. Since more women are in the workforce -- and working longer hours -- it follows that mutual attractions will occur.

Q: Do you think people are more likely to have extramarital affairs that start at work?
A: Not necessarily. People have been writing to me about affairs since the mid-1950s. At that time, it was more common to hear about husbands and wives having affairs with friends and neighbors, rather than co-workers. However, the workplace can be a fertile ground for romance. There's constant exposure, common interests, and lest we forget, the excitement of the "forbidden."

Workforce, July 1998, Vol. 77, No. 7, p. 45.

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