Im going downstairs for breakfast. Love, Enrique,” read the yellow post-it I found while searching for an expense receipt inside the purse that my boss wife had forgotten on a kitchen chair. Enrique was the president of a large corporation where my boss wife worked as vice president. They were obviously having an affair.
I had only been in the U.S. for a couple of years. The book company where I worked was based in the house of my boss and his wife, every room turned into a book warehouse. She had called me to look through her bag for a receipt she needed when I unexpectedly discovered she was involved in an office romance with her boss. Although I was in shock to find out such a woman I greatly admired was having an affair that could potentially derail her career, I never said anything. In a few short months, the office romance became public and the two protagonists were fired from their jobs.
Its true that not all office romance stories happen between such prominent individuals but its also true that they are always complicated and can have serious consequences for your career. So, before you give into the attraction you feel for that great looking guy you work with, you should ask yourself a few questions that will help you figure out if having an affair is worth the risk.
- Are there any office policies against office romance that might apply to me?
- Am I ready to resign if we start something but it doesnt work out and the situation turns uncomfortable?
- Do I think this could potentially be a long- term partner for which is worth taking the necessary risks of having an affair?
- Would I be okay if I were promoted to be his boss? What about if he becomes my boss?
- Would my coworkers perceive any career advancement as a result of special favors? How would that perception affect my reputation?
- Would I be able to take orders or instructions from him now that we are peers outside work?
- How would it affect me having him choose other people (particularly women) for projects Im interested in?
The secret is to keep a cold head to try and judge if this is likely to be a brief relationship or something more long-term and if you are prepared to deal with the consequences if things dont go as you expect. If you start the relationship with your eyes wide open, youll be more likely to foresee and minimize any undesirable side effect.
Mariela Dabbah, award-winning best-selling author, wrote Find your Inner Red Shoes: Step into your Own Style of Sucess among other titles. She launched the Red Shoe Movement, Women Supporting Women For Career Success to disprove the myth that women can not be each others allies when it comes to fulfilling their career aspirations.