Office Romance and Forbidden Relationships: What If It’s Love?

By Brie Crites


After stopping by Starbucks to grab a piping hot black coffee, you’ve managed to stroll into work 10 minutes early with your newly purchased designer business suit on full display. Saturated with swag and a killer smile, you greet every co-worker or subordinate that you meet in the elevator until you finally reach the floor of your office. The doors open and you step out. Then, you see her. And, she is beautiful. All of that “game” you usually spit is pushed to the side, and you feel your heart pounding inside of your chest.

Built just how you like your women with an elegance that seems to make her float instead of walk. Not only is she beautiful because of her aesthetics, she is also beautiful because of her wit, intelligence, and diligence in her area of work. In essence, she captures the ideal woman that you always imagined yourself to settle down with. But, there is one problem… She is the most recently hired secretary for the executive staff, which you are a member of, six months ago and dating on the job is forbidden. What do you do? What if this attraction is the beginning of something more, like love?

            My first instinct when I thought about dating on the job was: “Go for it! Love conquers all!” But, then I realized that I had just watched the movie, Brown Sugar, a film portraying the forbidden love of two best friends that are married or soon-to-be-married to other people. So, I had to ask myself the question again. If dating on the job is explicitly prohibited, or even just frowned upon, you have the potential of losing your employment if you cross this line. Now, I’m as big of a believer in “enchanted love” or “soulmates” as the next girl. But, there is one thing that I don’t play with… my money. If dating on the job seems to threaten the cash flow after all these years of school and work, I’m going to have to pass. So, personally, I give dating on the job it a big fat NO.

But, I didn’t want this article to be from just my perspective. So, I asked others about their thoughts about dating on the job. Dating on the job is a tricky subject to tackle. Because even though you want to keep your job and a steady paycheck, love can be found in any situation… even the workplace. So, the questions I posed were: “What are your thoughts about dating on the job? Should you date on the job in an effort to pursue love even if it is forbidden?”

I got back a variety of answers from my associates about their thoughts of dating on the job. However, from my “research,” I want to point out three distinct instructions and a couple of quotes to assist you when it comes to dating on the job. As tricky as dating on the job can be, it can be done… with a proper plan.


1.      Examine your feelings closely.

Before getting into a relationship with a co-worker, you must examine yourself. Check your motives and test your emotions before you begin dating on the job. This means… make sure that you are willing to risk your job for whatever you desire from the other person. If you are dating on the job in an effort to gain an office fling, be careful!  Office flings are usually insubstantial and can end terribly. One of my associates said to me, “I think it’s important to find out what you are expecting to receive out of the relationship before you place everything on the line… before risking your career on another person you better know for sure that real feelings are there and that it’s not just an office fling.” So, think about it. Do you see yourself with this person in 20 years, 10 years, or even one year? I know it’s hard to tell at first. But, going into a relationship, you already know what you are expecting to get out of it. You can get a fling from anywhere. Keep it out of the office.

2.      Learn the risks.

This is important because if you honestly feel like dating on the job is the right decision for you, you must be clear about what you are putting on the line. Will dating on the job get you fired? Or put on probation? Or will you be frowned upon? Will dating on the job make you lose clients or respect from your colleagues? These are all questions that you should be able to answer before dating on the job. Just like in the business world, create a risk assessment on the situation and make a sound decision. Remember, you must listen both to your head and your heart in order to make intelligent choices.

3.      Remain professional.

If you decide to go forward and date on the job, you must learn how to separate your life skillfully. Everyone in the office doesn’t need to know your business. They will ask. Answer ambiguously. People will watch for signs of you dating the other person. Avoid any form of PDA. Don’t mix business with pleasure. By separating the two, you are covering yourself in the off chance that the relationship fails. You don’t have to explain how you went from French-kissing the secretary one day to not speaking to her the next day. Another friend and coworker of mine stated, “Office romances aren’t bad if they don’t interfere in your day to day office role and activities. It should be kept professional all the time.” I couldn’t agree more. If you’re going to date on the job, do it discreetly and tactful. No one needs you two airing each other’s dirty laundry if the relationship doesn’t last. It’s your job. Not the Maury Show.

Let’s be real… you are attracted to whom you are attracted to. So, what are you to do when the person that you’re attracted to is “forbidden” from you? Like you’re a boss and she is your secretary. Or you’re a student and she is your professor. I guess the decision is up to you because ultimately you will have to face the consequences yourself, whether it is good or bad.

Crites is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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