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6 things to know before you hook up with someone at work

Are you crushing on someone from your office? Before you plunge in, here is a list of dos and don’ts of office romance to ensure you have fun safely
love in office

Mixing business with pleasure: Things to remember

Jokes have been written, meme have been created and warnings have been given: all to make people realise that they should keep work and pleasure separate, but when have we ever paid any attention to such warnings? Office romances, flings and affairs are still in vogue, giving rise to havoc in both personal and professional life. Lucky are those few who can actually balance a relationship that spreads across professional and personal areas of life. But even if we are not talking about relationships, there are obviously other things.

Hooking up at the office Christmas party or getting together on an office trip: things happen. It could be either a momentary lapse in judgement or a moment that you both have been waiting for: sometimes it feels good to live in that moment. But moments pass and reality hits, sometimes it hits hard. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind to face the reality the morning after.

Related reading: Here’s how to deal with office romance

Do be clear about intentions

This is a hard one. Office hook-ups usually spring up around innuendos and casual flirting. You cross the line before you know it is there. But this is a litigious society and you are going to need verbal consent. You might be looking for a hook-up, while your partner may think it is the start of something.

You might be looking for a hook-up, while your partner may think it is the start of something.

So please be cautious about what you are getting into, because you might end up getting more than you bargained for. Communicate and be clear about intentions before you do something that you both regret. Sometimes it is wise to leave a casual flirting just as it is or things might get out of hand.

Don’t attract attention

Now that you and your partner know what you want and what you do not, try to keep it to yourself. Don’t flaunt it, don’t draw attention. As Kahlil Gibran says, “Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things.” Yours may be a well-intentioned one-time hook-up or a first step towards a relationship: it is bound to get crooked and mashed up as a running joke in the office. It’s just human nature. You don’t want to be the hot topic by the water fountain. So try and be discreet about your personal affairs: they are, after all, none of anybody’s business.

Do be cautious

When it is an office hook-up, there are lots of things at play. Be cautious that you are not falling into a trap. Make sure that you are not being used by someone for ulterior motives. Sex can be held against you like a gun to your head if you go in the wrong direction. Everything you say or do can be used against you if you are being manipulated by the partner you chose. Be certain about the power equation and try not to end up at the sticky end of things. It is essential that you know when to stop.

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Related reading: Breached lines, broken hearts: An office romance

Don’t take advantage

Don’t misread signals. Be positive that the other person wants it too for the right reason. For example, make sure that your partner is not saying ‘yes’ just because they don’t have an option to say ‘no’. Consent given by a subordinate, when you are their direct boss, doesn’t really count in the court of law. If you have power over the person accusing you of misconduct and rape, then it falls under statutory rape.

If you have power over the person accusing you of misconduct and rape, then it falls under statutory rape.

A ‘yes’ is then immaterial, as you can be accused of coercing a submission.

Do maintain privacy

Please don’t use an office romance as a feather in your hat. Don’t brag about it after the event. Don’t save videos or photographs. Don’t talk about it or even drop hints. And if you have an office policy against fraternising with your colleagues, then you should absolutely shut up. Sometimes an office hook-up can cost you your career.

Don’t bring home to work

Don’t let sex or intimacy be a thing between you and your partner. Don’t take it emotionally if your partner doesn’t support you in professional matters. You hooked up together and you both had a good time; that’s all. You don’t owe each other anything. So don’t expect it to change your equation with your partner. Try and maintain a professional relationship.

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