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The Office Romance Rulebook | Workplace Worries

Aditi posted on 23rd February

By Aditi Datta

A friend, looking for love a long time ago, told me her biggest peeve was people telling her to ‘put herself out there’ when she’d arrived in a new city for work. ‘But what does that mean?’, she asked with more question marks at the end of that sentence than I could deal with without offering her a giant tumbler of red wine. As she pointed out, short of standing out on the street waiting to bump into an accidentally handsome stranger or lurking around in coffeeshops hoping for a mix-up in orders, her ‘getting out there’ meant getting out of home and swiping in before 9am.

We’ve heard this time and again, especially in Gurgaon & now Noida. For a whole generation of urban professionals, they don’t have the circuit of school friends or network of neighbours which enables that whole friend-of-a-friend-I-met-at-a-party encounter.

And it’s hardly surprising that the most promising romantic candidate happens to be the one who works a few cubicles away from you. You spend most of your waking hours there, you clearly have some sort of shared skill or interest, you bond over the cruelties of the system, you rejoice in each other’s good news whenever it strikes and as the founding basis of all love stories – you know what the other person will be hungry for at what time of day. As far as love goes, that’s gold.

To pursue the possibility of discovering the love of your life, or to walk away for fear of compromising your career? It’s an increasingly common dilemma with no right or wrong answers. Without coming up with the solution, we asked people who’ve faced this question on what the pros and cons of dating at the workplace could be.

Here’s what we heard from people who’ve decided for and people who decided against; those who went on to be happily married and named their first borns after a project code, as well as those those who’ll always wonder, what if…


PRO: In an age where so much of our lives spill out of one compartment into another, there is no need to rush home in order to make a dinner date. Working late? Stop by the cafeteria for a quick shared coffee!

CON: You can no longer compartmentalise the part of your life that brings you joy from the part of your life which can be a drag. {Hey, you figure out which is which!}


PRO: Seeing each other in office reminds you of, er…. happy times, shall we say?

CON: Seeing each other at home may remind you of those unhappy times and deadlines.


PRO: You know that feeling when you dress up a bit extra nice because your love interest will be around? That.

CON: You know the days when you wear your no-thinking-needed safe outfit when you want to feel a bit invisible? No more that.


PRO: It’s kind of exciting to have a whole other level of awareness of your significant other being around on an otherwise drab day.

CON: Life as a double agent can be exhausting too.


PRO: Having to reign in an overwhelming expression of affection can be thrilling.

CON: A little slip, and you’ve got the kind of audience you really don’t want, as well as a lifetime of mockery based on your nicknames for each other.


PRO: The great thing is that if you’re excited about a project or stressed about a work situation, your partner can completely empathise because they know all the micro-details.

CON: You may miss the daily debrief sessions if your partner knows all the details of your day already.


PRO: Believe it or not, there is a pro here! Seeing each other in a normal{ish} environment doing what you do best as a respectable, intelligent, mature human being may help you see each other in a more reasonable light. And may force you to make amends quicker.

CON: Resisting the urge to give that boy one tight slap.


PRO: If you have a seniority discrepancy at hand, keeping that hierarchy out of personal discussions is a beautiful sign of a healthy relationship.

CON: Having to establish the legitimacy of your point of view without pulling rank.


PRO: Keeping your relationship strictly professional at work and giving people no reason to gossip can actually lead to a greater regard for your maturity amongst colleagues.

CON: Not being able to have a bit of a rant for fear of juicing up the gossip mills.


PRO: This one is sort of like meeting the parents. Making your relationship officially known in your company is a solid sign of both your commitment.

CON: Ouch, those break-ups!


PRO: There’s no part of each other you haven’t seen. You know how the other person plays dirty, plays nice and how they deal when their hard drive crashes.

CON: There is none! This is only a good thing. And we hope your hard drive never crashes. That can be devastating.

 Notes in our Little Black Book | 

On a serious note, we have some do’s and don’ts assembled from talking to HR professionals in G-town. This is the official rulebook:

  1. Check the rules of your company, as they vary. Some companies may strictly forbid romance, some will offer to design your wedding card. Whatever it may be, respect the rules that were written before you got there.
  2. There will of course be that akward early stage of establishing whether you like each other enough to make it official. In that time when your company isn’t in the know, make sure you’re both comfortable with the rules of your equation. An unwritten promise on how to play fair can help keep things amicable in case you part ways.
  3. If possible, ask to be on separate projects. No reason you can’t continue to excel at what you do separately.
  4. Be conscious of causing any discomfort to those around you. The guy sitting in between your desks didn’t sign up for your relationship.
  5. Whatever you do, do not get cozy at the booze-filled Diwali party. Just don’t do this. Never ever. Nothing good ever comes from this. Never ever. Ever.