More than half (52 percent) of us have had at least one office romance of some kind with a colleague — whether a quick fling or an ongoing long-term relationship, according to Vault's 2018 Office Romance Survey. While "random hookups" are the most common type of interoffice relationships, many people have found their life partners at work.
And most people don't really have any qualms about it. In fact, 78 percent of those who have had a previous office romance suggested in the survey that they'd do it again — even despite the fact that 45 percent of respondents indicated that their company had some kind of policy on office romances.
That's because, for many, breaking the rules on romance has felt worth it. We talked to five women who've disobeyed their employers' rules on dating within the office and wouldn't have done it differently.
"I met my husband at work over a decade ago, and now we've been happily married for 12 years," says Debby, a first-grade teacher. "We started dating after having met in the teachers' lounge. He asked me to have lunch with him, and we started eating lunch together every day. Eventually, it sort of just evolved into a relationship, but we kept it a secret from the other teachers at school because we didn't want to stir the pot. We only told them once we finally decided to get engaged!"
"I had a secret crush on the IT guy at work for four years, and one evening at a happy hour with a few drinks flowing, we kissed," says Elizabeth, a graphic designer. "We both started laughing right after it happened, and looked at each other like, 'Oh no, what have we done?' But I admitted to thinking about it for years, and he told me how much he wanted to kiss me, too. In fact, he remembered specific outfits I'd worn throughout the years, and he started telling me all the times he wanted to go in for it but didn't. We didn't end up dating after that, but the affirmation that I wasn't crazy and that the flirting was mutual all those years was enough satisfaction for me."
"We matched on Bumble, and I recognized him from my onboarding training," says Amy, who works in hospital administration. "We started talking and went out for drinks, and we both agreed that the chemistry was better left a secret. We saw each other on and off for two years, although nothing serious ever came of it. But having the secret across the table at meetings always added an extra thrill to an otherwise dreary workday."
"My office was under repair when I met the man of my dreams," says Cindy, who worked as a secretary. "I was complaining to my girlfriends at work that I was going to be single forever when the man designing the new office walked in with thick-rimmed glasses and a clipboard. I whispered to my coworker, 'That's the man I'm going to marry.' A few weeks later, he came over to us to apologize for the construction taking so long. He offered to take us all to lunch as an apology. As a usually shy person, I never would have approached him but, one day alone in the office, I mustered up the courage to say, 'I've been waiting for my entire lunch break for you to take me out, but you never came.' He laughed, took me out, and the rest is history."
"I was hooking up with my boss who I secretly loved since I laid eyes on him," says Jane, an executive assistant. "I told myself I would never cross that line... until I did. For a while, I grappled with what it meant. I didn't want people in the office to know or to think I was trying to use him to get ahead. Eventually, I decided that he wasn't the one for me for a number of reasons, but I didn't want to lose him in my life. After all, we'd spent so much time together both in and out of the office, and I still had to work for him until I got a new job. To this day, he's still one of my best friends."
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.