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Understanding the dangers of workplace romance

Everybody wants to find a suitable mate, and when you spend 40 hours a week at the office, your eye might naturally turn to your colleagues for romantic prospects. While this is an understandable impulse, anybody who has been on the receiving end of such attention knows that it is often uncomfortable at best. According to Fast Company, such dalliances might boost productivity, but they are rarely as harmless as you might imagine.

The following are some of the most common reasons why dating in the workplace can be a disastrous endeavor. When things go wrong, it is likely to negatively impact both parties, so it is best to keep things strictly professional when you are at work.

Sexual harassment

While a coworker may feeling like asking you out is an innocent proposition, the implications might carry overtones that constitute harassment. Sexual harassment takes many forms, in fact, and persistent romantic come-ons are one of the most common. Even if no explicit sexual comment is made, the nature of dating makes it a sexual harassment liability in the workplace. 

Conflict of interest

Romances in the office also pose a number of ethical questions that can be problematic to consider. If a relationship develops between to coworkers and one is subordinate to the other, other coworkers and managers alike may view it as a conflict of interest that the two date. Accusations of favoritism — or if things end badly, retribution — can easily result from a situation like this.

Claims of coercion

Romance between subordinates and superiors may also include a certain element of coercion. You might feel pressured to accept a colleague’s advances if you feel that your job is on the line. Similarly, romance might be used as a tool to further one’s career. Either of these is a form of coercion, however, and will likely have serious consequences.

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