What’s Wrong with a Little Workplace Romance?


By Dawn Maslar, Contributor

Bobby and Sherri have been married for seven years. They didn’t meet online, at a bar, or on a blind date – they met on the job. In fact, Bobby was Sherri’s supervisor. Today, the couple run their own husband and wife business and their company is flourishing.

Most people would consider this the ideal romantic situation: two individuals who understand and trust each other, and are working toward a common goal in the workplace. In fact, you might wonder why an employer wouldn’t encourage this type of situation. Well, some actually do.

Ultimately, it’s not the long-term loving, trusting and understanding relationship of two people working together that is discouraged by management. It’s the crazy beginning stage of the union that employers would like to avoid.

Back to Bobby and Sherri

Bobby and Sherri didn’t instantly fall into their amazing stable relationship. They, like most couples, went through phases. The stable part is the last stage, but to get there, you have to go through the first rather crazy phase: sexual attraction.

All relationships go through this phase, and you might wonder, “What’s wrong with that?” Physical attraction is one of our oldest and most basic drives. It’s also fun, tantalizing and alluring. The problem is what this attraction does to your brain.

When you are physically attracted to someone, your body releases norepinephrine. You’ve probably experienced this sensation: Someone walks into the room, smiles at you, and you are instantly charmed. All of a sudden, you feel flush, your heart starts beating faster, your palms sweat, and you can’t think. This person has your complete attention. All you want to do is get to know this person better, preferably without clothes.

As lovely and enticing as this experience might feel, it’s bad for business. The problem is norepinephrine is part of your fight-or-flight response. When it floods your system, it literally disconnects the thinking part of your brain. That’s the part your company is paying you to bring to work. Now that the thinking part is off-line, you are only left with your primitive instincts.

Students studying biology call this response “The 4 F’s:” fight, flight, feed, or “fun.” The next thing you know, your work is piling-up on your desk while you and the object of your attention are sneaking off to canoodle. Not, much work is getting done, because even if you wanted to, your thinking is completely disrupted.

At the same time, your body is also producing endorphins, those fun additive pain-relievers that are comparable to heroine. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, and you can’t work. You have constant intrusive thoughts about seeing your beloved again, and again, and again. You’re addicted, but because of the endorphins you don’t care; nor, are you concerned that your work is not getting done and your boss is getting upset. All you care about is getting one more fix.

The bottom line

Although the thought of the perfect husband and wife combo working together side by side, like Sherri and Bobby, would be ideal to many companies, most frown upon fraternizing. They simply want to avoid the beginning phase of addicted obsessed employees leaving their brains at home and only bringing the bodies to work.

Talk back to us: Have you ever dated someone in the workplace? Did it work out for you? Share your story in the comment section below.



Dawn Maslar, MS is an award-winning author, biology professor and the go-to authority on the science of love. She’s a former radio talk show host and currently speaks and blogs about the science of love on her website http://www.dawnmaslar.com and popular YouTube channel at DawnMaslarTV. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on Fox 31, Daytime TV and NPR.

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