Relationship Connection: Office romances

Question:
 
I’ve got a couple of co-workers who are romantically involved with each other.  It’s not an affair, as they’re both single.  However, their new relationship is distracting them from doing their jobs and it’s starting to annoy everyone around them.  Is this something that I should report to management?  Any ideas on what I can do?
 
Answer:
 

Glad to hear that your co-workers have found an exciting relationship with one another.  However, I hear your pain on how distracting it can be to have a front-row seat to their budding romance.  Here are some thoughts on how you can get back to work. 
 
Management is probably already aware of their romance.  If they are peers in their job responsibilities, then there is no harm in them having a romantic relationship as long as they’re able to perform their job responsibilities.  If one is a manager and the other is a subordinate, it’s a little trickier.  Most companies prohibit this type of interaction and if it’s causing problems for you or others, human resources should handle it.   
 
If they can’t perform their job responsibilities, the situation should be handled in the same way you would handle any co-worker who is slacking and creating an increased workload for you or other colleagues.
 
You really have to separate their office romance from their work performance.  Their love life isn’t any of your business, regardless of how annoying it might be to see them gaze at each other across the room. 
 
Their work performance, however, does affect you and should be something you’re prepared to deal with if it’s really getting in the way of you doing your job well.  Naturally, you can pull them aside and explain how it affects you and see what can be done to get things back on track. 
 
If all else fails and there isn’t any response from your individual efforts, don’t be afraid to get the help you need from management to get everyone working again. Just follow the appropriate chain of command to take care of the concerns.
 
There is nothing wrong with individuals meeting and falling in love at work.  For many people, this is where they spend much of their time socializing.  So, it’s a natural place to associate and build relationships.  As long as people stay productive and are respectful of their actions toward their colleagues, these types of relationships shouldn’t be a threat.
 
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT.  Please send questions for future columns to:  [email protected]. Geoff maintains a blog, article archive, Twitter feed, and Facebook page which are available at www.geoffsteurer.com.

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