toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 24, 2006

breakups at work

When her love interest at work, Josh, transformed from object of desire into subject of ‘whatever did I see in him?’ the repercussions of Saffron’s soured workplace romance became nasty and disrupted not only Saffron’s life but the whole workplace.

"It seems difficult to imagine that the simple and beautiful act of falling in love can cause not only the pain of falling out of love, but possibly also the loss of one's job and livelihood as well," says Saffron. "Yet it happens every day, all over the world, and sometimes all it takes is the passage of a few months."

"Frightening, isn't it?"

"Being fired or being placed in a no-win situation where you have to quit your job is a common outcome of workplace romances," explains Saffron, "and I've now learned a lesson I will never forget."

"Most people know how risky workplaces romances are," says Saffron, "and yet they are increasing in number rather than decreasing."

"The rise of teamwork, forcing us to work closely with others - and global economic pressure, forcing us to work longer hours - have acted, it seems, to foment a lot of unlikely workplace romantic alliances."

"If you have no social life as a result of work commitments and you are working with people ten hours a day," explains Saffron, "then it is understandable that your natural urges are going to find an outlet at work and co-workers - some of whom you may not normally consider as attractive - will become objects of desire largely by virtue of their proximity and availability. This was exactly the case with Josh and I."

"Granted," says Saffron, "workplaces give us the ideal conditions under which we can get to know someone slowly and carefully, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, couples that met at work, some of whom continue to work together, are shown in marital research to have more stable and lasting marriages than couples who met elsewhere."

"But I wasn’t looking for a husband," laughs Saffron. "I wasn’t even looking for a guy."

"I am simply a hard-working single girl who just wants to succeed in life and if that means working until midnight every night, and becoming a workaholic, then so be it," explains Saffron.

"I believe that falling madly and crazily in love with Josh was symptomatic of a workaholic dis-ease."

"You tend to do crazy things, don’t you?" explains Saffron, "when you’re working late hours, not sleeping or eating properly, and not living a normal life. No wonder I felt attracted to Josh!"

Typical of the vast majority of workplace romances, Saffron’s romance fizzled out as predictably as a romance started outside the workplace, in the real world, but in keeping with Saffron’s dis-eased, crazy state the end of the romance devastated her.

When a romance is based on attraction, and very little else - as it was in Saffron’s case - it is pretty well acknowledged that as soon as the bloom of desire wanes - as Nature intends it to do, nobody can stay on Cloud 9 forever! - the couple go through a ‘falling out of love’ process that either causes them to form a mature, loving relationship or to wonder what on earth they ever saw in each other to start off with.

"When co-workers fall out of love, and do not progress to a mature relationship," says Saffron, "the romance can fizzle out with both parties being civil and agreeing to keep their professional relationship intact, or they can become good friends."

"A more likely outcome, though, when dis-eased workaholic people are involved," explains Saffron, "is that both parties will loathe each other, or one party may remain ‘in love’ and will either go through silent misery seeing his or her former partner with somebody else or become harassing or violent towards the straying partner."

"My former raison d’etre, Josh, dumped me for another girl at work," explains Saffron, "and although I'm no longer attracted to the guy I am extremely annoyed that he is flaunting his new girlfriend in front of me every day."

Whatever the outcome, it is clear that productivity suffers and the workplace generally becomes negatively affected when a couple of co-workers fall out of love.

"It isn’t very pleasant for my roommates, either," confesses Saffron. "They not only have to put up with me bitching about Josh but also my lack of focus on doing my share of the chores. I've also, on several occasions, got behind in the rent - not because I don't have money but because I've become totally disorganized since Josh and I broke up."

She admits that’s she lucky her roommates haven’t told her to find another place to live. There’s only so much that people in shared accommodation can put up with.

"When a romance ends in the real world, outside work, we tend to wallow in misery for a while and then chalk it up to experience and move on," says Saffron. "We can do this because we do not see our former partners any more. We do not speak to them on the telephone any more. They are out of our lives."

"When a workplace romance ends, the wallowing usually involves co-workers and they become unwitting participants in the break-up drama. They will take sides. So, not only did I have to face Josh every day and maintain some sort of professional relationship with him, but I also have to deal with co-workers who are either trying to get me back together with Josh or stir up more trouble."

"It is virtually impossible to move on with your life when you are in this situation," sighs Saffron, "and I have to make a tough decision."

"Should I flirt with Bob in Sales to counteract the anger I feel about seeing Josh with another girl? Should I quit my job and get on with my life? Or should I just do my best to pretend I don't care?"

"Actually," says Saffron," the situation has helped me face my workaholic tendencies."

"I'm leaving work earlier so that I can avoid Josh but when I get home I don't relax."

"I guess there is something about me that makes me both susceptible to workaholism and falling crazily in love."

"Maybe one day medical science will find a gene, let’s call it an excessive gene, that causes people like me to do everything in excess," sighs Saffron, "but in the meantime I could do with a pair of eyes that can't see the girl Josh is flaunting in my face!"

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