SURVEY SAYS: Have You Had A Workplace Romance?

February 13, 2003 ( - Valentine's Day is tomorrow - a time when lovers (and florists) are traditionally all agog, even in the workplace.

This week we asked readers if they had ever had a romantic relationship with a co-worker – and if so, how did it turn out?  Well, work is certainly a lot more “interesting” than it used to be, at least from the perspectives of this week’s respondents.   Nearly 80% said they had had at least one such “entanglement” – and a significant minority had had more than one.

Not that those who have steered clear haven’t at least entertained the notion, as the reader who noted, “Never, although I have fantasized.   As Director of Human Resources it wouldn’t be a good career move.”   On the other hand, career “placement” can clearly have its advantages, as evidenced by the comment, “My office romance began when I met with an employee to explain our company’s flexible spending account.” 

Fortunately, most (57%) of these encounters were “heaven,” according to our respondents – with a significant number of resultant – or pending – nuptials.   There were a LOT of lovely sentiments expressed here, such as the reader who said, “Yes. I married her 41 years ago. Best thing I ever did, even though I lost the best secretary I ever had,” or the one who shared , “My 14-year partnership springs from an office romance. He is my teacher, my friend, my cook, my gardener, and my lover.”  Nearly one in five (19%) characterized the end result of the encounters as “OK.”

As one might expect, roughly 12% said it turned out badly – and nearly 9% said the result was “the opposite of heaven” (or words to that effect), like the reader who offered, “Badly.   Very badly.   But it’s great fodder for a book someday!”   Or the one who noted, “As for my answer…well…I’ll just say it was a “learning experience.”  

And then, there were the creative 4% who either noted a “progression” in the relationship (from heaven to the opposite of heaven), such as the one who said, “Yes. It was (a) for a while, then it went to (b), then it went straight to (d).   Or those (generally already married) who, like this reader, pointed out the reality of human relationships: “How did it turn out?   A little of ‘all of the above’ – we got married.…”

Of course, with all these work-based relationships, it was perhaps inevitable that there would be at least one response like the following: “In response to how it turned out, I suppose my answer had better be (a) because she is now my wife, and she also reads the Dash.”  

But this week’sEditor’s Choicecame from a reader who has obviously found true love outside the workplace, simply noting, “Never had one; my wife would frown on it.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

In response to your question about having a relationship with a co-worker, I am happy to say mine turned out fantastic - we've been married for 17 years.

What I've learned, since getting married, is that there is no difference between being married and dating a coworker, because in both cases no matter what happens you still have to see the other person everyday.

In my much younger days, a few Bs and one C

No relationships with co-workers.   Tempting often but tried never.

I did have a romantic relationship with a coworker and as of next April it will be (a) heaven for 34 years!

In response to your question about having a relationship with a co-worker, I am happy to say mine turned out fantastic - we've been married for 17 years.

Badly.   Very badly.   But it's great fodder for a book someday!

I was a single parent who started working for a small medical device company after losing my previous job during an acquisition.   About a year into my job I started dating the Director of Research and Development who later became President of the company.   We kept the relationship a secret for almost four years.   We eventually broke up due to personal reasons.   In December of 2001 this wonderful man realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me so he surprised me with a very romantic proposal.   Needless to say, we needed to tell the "troops" at work the next day.   When the news came out everyone was very accepting of the situation and truly happy for us.   We have been married for nine months, we both work at the company and all of the employees have been great.

Never, although i have fantasized.   As Director of Human Resources it wouldn't be a good career move.

No unfortunately.

Heaven.   It's been over 5 years and we still work together!

Met my wife 36 years ago at work and we will have our 35th anniversary on March 2nd. It was (a) heaven.

Romantic Relationship? Hmmmm.....Yes!!! and we've been married now for 20 years.   The real question is if we had continued to be co-workers, would we still be married.

Only in my dreams.

No, never had a relationship with a co-worker.   Of course, since I started dating the boy, who later became my husband, when we were just 15, my situation may be a little different than others . . .

A.   Absolute heaven!!   We've been married four years.   (My husband left the firm a year ago -- for career reasons, nothing personal.)   Although we had a lot of support from the company, it has made us (management) think about instituting a policy against it -- what if another relationship didn't turn out so well?   How would it affect the rest of the staff? Have a good day . . .

In response to your survey - yes I have.   In response to how it turned out, I suppose my answer had better be (a) because she is now my wife, and she also reads the Dash.

Have I ever had a romantic relationship with a co-worker?   YES, twice.  

The first one was great to begin with but then progressed to not good and ended badly from my perspective.  

The second time I had a romantic relationship with a co-worker was heaven and ended with us getting married!!   We quietly dated for three years during which time none of the other employees were aware that we even knew each other.   Everyone was surprised when we announced our engagement and wedding planned for three months later.   My husband and I are celebrating our 11 th anniversary this May.

Never.   I've always adhered to one of my Grandmother's wiser adages . . ."Don't get laid where you get paid".      

My office relationship , Has given me a WIFE, two CHILDREN, two DOGS ,one Mortgage and two CAR PAYMENTS.   THANK GOD FOR THE OFFICE.

Yes, a few times, all when I was much younger (early 20's).   Most were brief and not very intense, expect for the last one.   That one began when I was twenty-five, and since we've been married for almost 26 years (and counting) I guess that one turned out OK.

Yes. I married her 41 years ago. Best thing I ever did, even though I lost the best secretary I ever had.

You mean other than the one I'm having now with a coworker?   So far, it has been (a).   We work on the same floor, but in totally unrelated groups.   Also, statistics say that most people meet their spouses at work!!!  

YES. I had an affair with a co-worker once and it turned out worst than the opposite of heaven! C is my answer.

heaven!   Perhaps because we remained "just friends" until I knew I was leaving the company we both worked for, so we only actually had a romantic relationship as co-workers for about four weeks.   Over two years later, we are "in heaven", but he is interviewing with my current employer, so ask me again next year!

C   neither heaven nor hell, just not right.   As usually is the case, the 'romance' was great but the meeting of the minds was not.   Ha.

Since I've learned my lesson not to do this anymore, 3 new hotties have been hired.   Doh!

Heaven; I married him.

Great Question!   My answer to "Have you ever had a romantic relationship with a co-worker?" is an unequivocal, stupendous and FANTASTIC "a (HEAVEN)"!!  

I worked for about a year as the marketing director for a semi-celebrity (voice-talent) in the DC metro area.   It was just the 2 of us and after about 6 months we started a romantic relationship.   Both of us were divorced, and he wanted us to marry...but it took me 12 years to feel comfortable with the idea of another marriage.   We did finally marry in 1994, and I was able to have what very few people in this world experience:   PERFECTION!!!   Ours was the best union EVER!   We were old enough and experienced enough to know what we wanted and didn't want in our relationship.   We laughed, talked and spent much of our time devoted to 'indoor sports'...if you get my drift!!!   We were each other's BEST FRIEND!!!

Regrettably, the love of my life, my true soul-mate passed away 5 years ago (after 3 1/2 years of marriage).   I consider myself the most fortunate woman in the world to have experienced the greatest joy 2 adults can share.   I would not have given up my 15 years with him for anything!  

This Valentine's Day I will not be with my love, but my love will be with me.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!!!

a) heaven (well, most of the time).    I'm married to a former co-worker, although we did not date until after I had left.   

Heaven   Not only did I get promoted, I married him.

I had a relationship with a co-worker at a previous job, and I am marrying her in 4 months!

heaven while it lasted and we've managed to remain very good friends - and our new significant others get along too!

Man!!   Are you opening up some old, messy, ugly, dirty, nightmarish, rotten, putrid, cold-hearted, disgustingly evil wounds....OR WHAT?!!!!

As for my answer...well...I'll just say it was a "learning experience".  

Yes, it happened once many years ago…it ended ---choice c - badly.

I've always thought that business life was one thing that could be royally messed up by having an affair with a co-worker that you would see every day.    But, once ( a very long time ago, before the earth cooled ) I had a brief fling with an audit client's A/R Manager who would come to Atlanta

for weekends.   It was fun and naughty, but it was uncomfortable going back the next year to audit.   I never did it again; but, like Jimmy Carter, I've committed adultery in my heart, sometimes several times a day.

You can say that I have had a romantic relationship with a co-worker.   I have been married for 11 years to the shipping/receiving manager.   I guess we take after my parents who work here also and have been married for almost 39 years.   Who says married couples can't work together?

I married her so I'd be in BIG trouble if I answered otherwise!

Yes, I have had a romantic relationship with a co-worker. We kept it secret for more than a year before an evil co-worker outed us to my boss.   No worries, though. My boss was fine with it and I'm happily married to   the now-ex co-worker (he's a client now, which is much harder). In my office of 600 employees, I count about 27 couples (some secret, some not). The new trend is children, with more than a half dozen babies resulting from those unions. I guess we're breeding the next generation of financial services employees. Kind of scary.

I left my job, at least subconsciously, for the purpose of dating a co-worker - we didn't acknowledge to each other that our outside work activities were "dating" until after I left - harmless flirting only while we were co-workers.   We started dating in April, got engaged in June, got married in the beginning of December and have been married for six (a) heavenly years.

Survey:   A - "heaven" (most days)   married him.   It was to pre-screen his work ethic!

In 1990 I had a fun flirty thing going with a "younger" male co-worker.   He worked   in the IT department and fixed my computer.   He then recruited me to ski on our company ski team (they needed someone over 40) and we started seeing each other outside of work. It turned out that we had a lot of interests in common, so we started bike riding, skiing, going to lunch and concerts together and really ended up being best friends. Nothing other than serious flirting ever happened.   It was fun and exciting. Within a year he left the company but we stayed friends and continued to see each other until he got engaged to his new boss!   He married her and she did not understand how an attractive, single, older woman, could have a platonic relationship with a handsome, younger, now married man so she put an end to our friendship which made me really sad for both of us. Have a great Valentine's Day.

E [ at times it is A and at times it is D ]

I've never been involved with a co-worker but know someone who was- it made for a very uncomfortable wedding for another co-worker so the answer would be (d).

ANSWER:   (C) yes, I had a romantic relationship with a co-worker - I was in my early 20's.   I've learned never to do that again ~ thank goodness for learning my lesson early life

Yes, and I've been living with him for the past 22 years! (I've always thought its awkward for co-workers to deal with - they have to be careful what they say and it was only a 40-person firm, so after a year of keeping relationship secret, I decided that I should be the one to find another job.)

(b) co-worker in another department-- got married (14 years), got divorced when he got involved with a co-worker in his department-- since he was an HR manager, that type of thing was frowned upon. He's no longer working here but has part-time employment paying way more than he made here. He's been married to the involvee for several years--she cleans and cooks much more than I ever did so he's happy. I'm happy on my own, so all in all, a strong (b)

We became romantically involved as co-workers (in a bank) , and have been married 25 years.

My answer would have to be (e) all of the above.   I had an office romance and made it a permanent arrangement.   We will have been married for 6 years this May.   Yes, we still work for the same employer, but NO we do not carpool.   🙂

What an interesting survey question.   As a matter of fact I married a co-worker in 1988, while we were both serving in the US Air Force.   The funny (ironic - after reading the survey question) thing is, just this morning the Magistrate signed out marriage dissolution.    I would answer your survey (b) - as my now ex-husband and I are still friends.

Never had one, my wife would frown on it.

e)other--15 years of marriage and 2 kids--not exactly heaven but pretty close.

My wife and I actually met when we worked part-time for a local grocery store.   She worked at the Customer Service counter and I was on the fast-track to management 🙂 in the Delicatessen.   Both of us eventually left the grocery store to pursue our professional careers but we stayed together.   Three years ago we both ended up at here and have been here ever since.   Our co-workers say if they worked with their spouse, they would go nuts.   I say, if we can handle working with our spouse, we're going to stay together through anything.   Plus, we save on gas because we drive to work together.   Woohoo!   Money-Savers!

Nope, never.

Basic rule of thumb:   Don't play where you work.   Too significant of a chance that issues will arise, whether you stay together in a serious long-term relationship (i.e., marriage or otherwise) or not.   Just not worth the risk.

(Of course, I can say this as I've been married   -   faithfully   -   for over 20 years)

[And it just hit me as I wrote that note that I felt that I had to include the comment about being faithful to my marriage.   An interesting comment on the world as it exists today.]

Yes. We got married. Luckily for me it's A (it's very rarely C or D in my case).   

Yes, I have had a relationship with a co-worker.   I married him, then divorced him.   It ended very badly.   The shmuck didn't pay child support and disappeared completely when he found out not paying child support would land him in jail.   Co-workers - yuck!  

Yes, twice - first one didn't last, so e) other - just didn't work, he wasn't a jerk or anything....   second one, so far b) OK - I'm sure age has a bearing, one's tolerance seems to increase along with the number of gray hairs and wrinkles....   or maybe it's just a greater acceptance of people -

I prefer the latter assessment.

Heaven!   We've now been married for 22 years!  

Afraid not, although there have been several times that I wanted to. If my wants had come true, however, hard to say what it would have done to our work. With several of the ladies that I would have liked to get to know better, I think doing so would have hindered our working relationship. So, I'm glad, I think, that we never went further than some flirting and occasional lunches.

- a) we're getting married this Spring!!

Yes, I have on a couple of occasions.   Generally, it was OK but on one occasion it was the complete opposite of heaven!   He was very jealous and watched my every move, making it very uncomfortable.   Once, I broke it off he started rumors that I was stalking HIM and got me into hot water.   He was a manager and I was not so it was his word over mine.   I would definitely not recommend it.   Work and home should be kept separate!   Of course, I say this just as I am preparing to embark on a business venture with my husband (recent marriage).   But we have a much different relationship and still won't be working in the same location together.

Answer A - Heaven

My 14-year partnership springs from an office romance. He is my teacher, my friend, my cook, my gardener and my lover.

My office romance began when I met with an employee to explain our company's flexible spending account.   How did it turn out?   A little of "all of the above" - we got married...

What a shocker!   I wonder how many true confessions you will get!   When I was in high school I dated a co-worker and quickly saw how ugly the rumor mill could be.   That was enough for me!   Plus, even if available, could you imagine the scandals an HR Manager would create by dating a co-worker??   Credibility shot, for sure!

Something must be right about it, though, as I have worked with at least 15 couples who met at work and have been happily married for some time!

Yes.   It was (a) for awhile, then it went to (b), then it went straight to (d).

Yes, (a) heaven.   We're still together, 8 years later.

No, but my exhusband did and it turned out "C" badly.

I know I am late - but I just had to let you know that I meet my most wonderful husband at the office and it even though we were very careful at work and he soon got another job - it was absolute heaven.   I can certainly say that it would not be an experience that everyone could handle.