toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 01, 2006

falling in love at work

Cynthia knows from experience that there is no such thing as Mondayitis or TGIF when the object of your affections works at the same place you do.

"It was a joy to leap out of bed in the mornings and make my way to work, anticipating eight hours of pleasure spent in close proximity to him," sighs Cynthia, "but it was the end of the world on Friday evenings when I had to leave work and spend a miserable weekend without my raison d'etre in my immediate life."

Cynthia made the cardinal error or falling in love with a guy at work and - typical of the situation - he made a fool of her.

"I wasn’t looking for a guy, or hoping to fall in love with someone," explains Cynthia. "It just happened."

"Given that falling in love at work inspires us not only to get to work early and leave as late as possible but also to look our best and be on our best behavior," laughs Cynthia, "it's amazing that companies do not encourage it to happen more often than it does. Instead, they're making us sign silly contracts not to fall in love!"

However, being employed involves a lot more than being at work, looking good and behaving well. One must actually do some work. And here is where employers get heavy and many of the unfortunate love-struck, like Cynthia, come unstuck.

The act of 'falling in love' has been likened to a state of temporary insanity - but a very nice one - and it is this aspect that probably frightens a lot of managers, most of whom have forgotten what it is like to be in love.

"It's true," laughs Cynthia, "it's virtually impossible to be productive when one is in love. One's whole being is immersed in thoughts and feelings of one's heart's desire. A person in love cannot be expected to knuckle down to facts and figures when they are in this state, and I was typical in that I didn't notice, or care, that my work was piling up around me."

"When the object of your desire does not work with you, it is bad enough," says Cynthia, "but when he works in the same building, or office, and especially within close proximity, the effect is worse. Your productivity decreases in direct proportion to the space between yourself and your loved one - who, in my case, happened to sit in my direct view at the far end of my workplace."

By far the headiest part of a romance is in the early stages, when you are not yet sure whether the object of your desire even notices you let alone reciprocates your feelings.

In the world outside of work a romantic rebuff carries no stigma, but when it happens at work it can be disastrous. Not just for the rebuffed, but also for the rebuffer.

Even when our heart's desire notices us and reciprocates our feelings the progress of a workplace romance is far rockier than it is in the world outside.

The first thing that happens when you fall in love at work is that everyone notices. Cynthia could not hide shining eyes, rosy cheeks and a sudden spring in her step any more than she could hide the fact that she was arriving at work an hour earlier than usual and leaving an hour later than usual.

A person 'in love' is a dead give-away.

Very soon the gossip starts. Cynthia refused to tell anyone who the object of her desire was. She was far too embarrassed to confide in anyone. So, rumors started flying around. People started monitoring her reactions when she was around certain people, and since she had a tendency to blush and stammer when Roland walked by, Cynthia was unable to keep her secret for long.

They say everybody loves a lover, but there are plenty of people who do not. The object of your affections, for instance, may be more embarrassed than you are and may feel repulsed by you - in which case you risk harassment charges if you try to pursue your desires further; and there are other people at work who may be angry that their workload has increased since you 'fell in love' and stopped being productive. Cynthia had to face the wrath of one woman whose work was being held up because Cynthia had not given her the figures she needed.

Since you cannot turn off your feelings - and it takes at least three months for a rebuff to wash through your system - the very last thing you want is public humiliation at work. If a rebuff occurs, you will feel like quitting your job in order to avoid the rebuffer and the ridicule of your co-workers, but unfortunately your emotional state is not conducive to finding another job quickly. Either way you look at it, a romantic rebuff at work makes you a loser.

The very best outcome for a woman who falls in love at work is to have her feelings reciprocated. And that was Cynthia’s fate, although at the time she considered it to be good fortune. But now, rather than one unproductive person the company has two slackers - but only for a short time.

You see, 'falling in love' is a heady process, intended by Nature for one purpose alone, and once that purpose has been achieved we go through the 'falling out of love' process. And, when you work with someone all day, and spend time with them outside work, too, the process of 'falling out of love' is going to be accelerated, bringing problems into your life that you never thought could exist.

"Fortunately for everyone concerned," says Cynthia, "my workplace romance with Roland fizzled out quickly and there were no traumatic repercussions. We are now good friends. I consider myself very lucky because I know plenty of women who have been through hell and back when they fell in love with a guy from work."

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