What is surprising is that no one seems to care!
According to Vault.com’s 2013 Office Romance Survey, the majority of people surveyed thought that office affairs are no big deal and none of their business. Maybe that is because 56% of those surveyed said they have been involved in office romance and 35% have had an office tryst.
It gets dicier: Almost a third of those surveyed said they had an office “wife or husband”–meaning, they did not a romantic relationship at work, but had someone in the office with whom they hung out with all the time. Why is this a problem? Because we know that proximity and spending a lot of time together are risk factors for affairs. It’s like playing with fire.
So should we care?
Affairs are about betrayal and secrecy so, yes, we should care. People are always hurt in the end.
And here is the part I find incredible, 76% said that a romantic office relationship did NOT impact their personal or professional relationships with other co-workers. If you are sneaking around, cheating on your partner, blurring the lines of authority, etc., why wouldn’t that spill over to other relationships in the work place? It reminds me of women who marry cheating men and then expect them to be faithful. If he cheated on you, chances are it will happen again if no changes are made.
Like President Clinton who shook his finger at the camera and told America he did not have sex with that woman, we try to compartmentalize our lives when it comes to office romance. Compartmentalizing is when you put part of your life on one shelf (an affair at the office), another on a different shelf (a family at home) and believe the two shelves will never touch each other. I think we all know how well that eventually works out. Ask the former President. The shelves eventually come crashing down.
In my mind, if you care about a co-worker and know he/she is having an affair, care enough to talk to the person about it. Help the person see that betrayal and secrecy never end well. You might help save a marriage and help avoid a great deal of emotional pain.