But if a relationship goes awry, she says, it can negatively impact your career and your peace of mind."I can’t imagine if I was dating a person and it went downhill going to work every day and having to see that person.’’There are countless couples who have begun dating while working together, be it in an office, at a restaurant, or on a movie or TV set.Singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton became a couple after coaching together on NBC's .Melinda Gates was first asked out by her boss, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in a parking lot.And former President Barack Obama began dating former First Lady Michelle Obama when he worked as a summer associate at her Chicago law firm and she was his mentor.Such relationships can lead to a fulfilling, long-lasting partnership -- or a workplace melodrama that disintegrates into hurt feelings, charges of favoritism, or even termination.“You always want to tread carefully, no matter how innocent or exciting it might seem in the beginning,'' says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for Career Builder, a recruitment firm that conducts an annual poll on romance in the workplace.If a couple doesn't disclose a workplace relationship that seems to be in violation of corporate policy, Yost of SHRM says "I'd feel more obligated to let human resources know of my concerns.''Ultimately, even if your romance began at the office, putting a little distance between corporate and personal lives can be a good thing, says Baker, who met her wife in January 2008 and began dating her eight months later."It was a bonding moment at the beginning of the relationship,'' she said about sharing workday experiences when they were previously employed by the same company.
The couple will soon celebrate their 12th anniversary.
It can be worth it to bring concerns up to those colleagues if their behavior appears to be leading to someone receiving preferential treatment.
"You can try to discuss that openly with individuals in the relationship,'' Haefner says.
And if the couple splits up, the staff may pick sides, "creating more of a morale issue among employees who weren't directly involved in the relationship,'' Yost says. Managers weren’t supposed to date employees.’’Playing cat and mouse was a little fun at first, she says.
If the pair is too uncomfortable to continue working together, "it could potentially cost you both employees.''An office romance can be particularly problematic if an employee begins dating his or her supervisor, or another staff member with a much higher rank. Once, she had flowers delivered to Justin at work, knowing he couldn’t reveal who had sent them.