It all started innocently enough. At work, I would wander past her desk, tell weird jokes, and remind her that the Boston Red Sox could never win two World Series in a row. For six months, every time I walked by, she would laugh and always look directly at my face. Although I was older and supposedly more experienced, I shifted uncomfortably from side to side and, more often than not, averted my blue eyes to adjacent cubicles. I feared that moment when our eyes would lock. I thought she was adorable, but I also remembered the old adage about office romance, “You don’t eat and shit in the same place.”
I had been on dozens of dates in the previous year, and no one ever truly clicked for me (or vice versa). One day in an email to me, she plied me with a baseball metaphor, “You’ll never hit a home run if you don’t step up to the plate.” After two hours of naïve confusion on my part, I understood. We went out that weekend.
A lot of people face the same dilemma we did: These days, it is damn near impossible to meet someone outside of your circle of friends or your workplace. Trolling bars, while providing a reasonably good chance for a quick one-night-shag, hardly satisfies your need for something, umm, longer and deeper.
A 2003 American Management Association survey indicates that roughly two-thirds of their respondents approve of office dating, and almost one-third have taken a bite of the apple themselves. Surveys of office managers suggest that 80% of them know that an office romance is in progress in their workplace.
But is it worth the risk of living out one of those incredibly uncomfortable moments when you and your ex-office date are assigned a project together? In your minds, you can only see each other naked, with each other’s flaws as glaringly obvious as the smell of dry-erase marker wafting from the whiteboard? Is love so important that you should risk your own career arc, just because that person may be the one? Is love so difficult to find these days that convenience trumps the excitement of the hunt?
For the record, unlike Jim and Pam from NBC’s The Office (or Tim and Dawn if you prefer the BBC version), my romance had a happy ending. We were so discreet that few colleagues heard about our relationship. Without that layer of complexity, our romance grew slowly and naturally. We were married and hope to live happily ever after. We also don’t work there anymore!