Should we be open about our office romance?

Question: I’m in a relationship with someone at work. Should we be open about this with co-workers? There are no prohibitions on dating in our company handbook.

Before you consider whether or not to tell your co-workers, first ask yourself if the relationship is appropriate. Does one of you report to or supervise the other? If one person has direct responsibility over the other, or if the two people have vastly unequal job status, the relationship creates an opportunity for sexual harassment. That potential makes an already delicate situation even more problematic. Also, take a moment to consider the other thorny issues. If you stop dating each other, would you still be able to work together? Or would you be willing to look for other jobs? Will both of you be able to maintain healthy boundaries between your work life and your personal life? Is this a casual fling, or a more serious relationship, worth the risk?

If, after careful thought, you decide to continue dating, then exercise the same discretion about the relationship as you do about other details of your personal life. Never let it be a distraction to either of you or any of your colleagues. At a minimum, turn off the flirtation while you’re at work and keep conversations about personal matters out of the workplace. A middle-ground approach may help. Rather than either hiding or flaunting your relationship, remain professional at all times and let the natural progression of your relationship determine what you say, when, and to whom.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.