Bad Romance: Is It Cool For Women In The Workplace To Date Co-Workers?

If it’s good enough for Mika Brezinski and Joe Scarborough, is it good enough for you? The co-hosts of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC are officially engaged, apparently proving that office romances can work out to everyone’s advantage.In an interview in Vanity Fair, Scarborough says,  “It occurred to me that with us working together and being live on the air every day for three hours that we were forced, no matter what disagreements we had, what misunderstandings we had, to work through it and get right with each other by 5:59 a.m.”But what is the best advice about whether or not to date—let alone marry—someone in your workplace? Whether your love interest is a boss, a peer or someone you supervise, entanglements can get pretty messy.[bctt tweet=“It’s up to you to decide if dating at work is right for you. Many women do. #WomenInTheWorkplace” username=“takeleadwomen”]For every Mika and Joe, there are cautionary tales like Tarek and Christina El Moussa, the “Flip Flop” reality TV stars who are divorcing, after years of working together as a married couple.As a woman leader, thanks to gender bias and some touchy double standards, it can also be treacherous for your career. Anybody who has seen “Fatal Attraction,” the 1992 classic, knows how badly it can end. You could also have learned from the near miss in the 1987 reminder to never fall for the handsome new guy at work in “Broadcast News.”Lots of work couples on the big and small screens have mixed work and play.“The X-Files remains, as always, one of television’s most fascinating examples of the ‘Will They/Won’t They,’” writes Liz Shannon Miller in IndieWire. “Whether or not it was planned, fans quickly looked forward to developments in the relationship status of their favorite FBI agents, and creator Chris Carter drizzled out just enough to keep fans hooked for years.”Apparently that’s a big theme in the new “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2” with Peter and Gamora possibly doing more together than saving the universe.Still, not everyone who has office love relationships has the happy ending of Pam and Jim in “The Office.” We all have too many tales to tell and none that we want repeated about how badly it can go if you date someone in the workplace.[bctt tweet=“Not all who have office romance has the happy ending of Pam and Jim in The Office #WomenAtWork” username=“takeleadwomen”]Many joke about having a “work wife,” or “work husband,” but it leaves us wondering if any of it is really a good idea.“A new survey from digital media company Captivate found that 70 percent of business professionals currently have or have had a work spouse — a lift from the 65 percent the company saw in 2010. In 2006, just 32 percent of employees reported having work spouses,” writes Nicole Spector at NBC News.“According to Captivate’s poll, 7 percent of professionals said that they’ve crossed the line with a work spouse, and 7 percent said they hide their work spouse from their real spouse. This year 13 percent of men said they crossed the line, up from 9 percent. It was very different for women, with only 3 percent admitting to having crossed the line, and 5 percent saying they hide their work spouse from their real spouse,” Spector writes.Apparently, if you do think it’s a good idea to cross the line and date someone at work, there’s an app for that.“The dating app Feeld recently released a bot for the work-chat platform Slack, which alerts users who mutually expressed romantic interest that they liked each other,” writes Julie Beck in The Atlantic.“Despite Feeld’s grandiose claims that using this bot would “make your organization more human” by encouraging people not to hide their crushes at work, it seemed unlikely that workplaces would really want to install this,” Beck writes. Slack is not on board.But a lot of American professionals are apparently doing just fine without the app to help make that happen. More than half of Americans “say they have participated in an office romance, according to Vault.com’s annual office romance survey,” according to Business Insider.“Of those who have dated a coworker, 42 percent said they had an ongoing, casual relationship; 36 percent said they had a random office hookup; 29 percent had been in a serious, long-term relationship; and 16 percent had met their spouse or partner at work,” according to Business Insider.Best industries for a romance at work? Hospitality and tourism, where 62 percent say they’ve had a romance with a colleague, and consumer products industry, where 59 percent said the same. And I guess “Mad Men” was for real, since in the retail and advertising business, 58 percent report they have dated someone at work.[bctt tweet=“Best industries for a #RomanceAtWork? Hospitality and tourism.” username=“takeleadwomen”]But if you think workplace affairs only happen in the United States, they are also top of mind in the Czech Republic.“Up to one-third of Czechs have ever had a workplace romance and 94 percent admit that they are flirting with someone at work from time to time, according to a STEM/Mark poll released to CTK,” according to the Prague Daily Monitor. “Forty percent of men and 27 percent of women have experienced an intimate relationship at work.”It’s important to note we are not talking about imbalanced power relationships involving sexual harassment. This  romance is about mutual consent with women in the workplace—without threats or requirements for advancement.Still there is a gender imbalance of consequences possibly for women in the workplace.“Men and women are judged differently when it comes to relationships, in and out of the workplace. It’s part evolutionary, part perception,” writes Tania Ngima in Sunday Magazine.“Predictably, women are seen as engaging in office relationships to garner an employment related advantage while the incentive for men is pegged more to ego and love. Whether valid or not, it follows that women would bear the brunt resentment from their colleagues, with office gossip targeting the female over the male,” Ngima writes.Even if she is the boss, for women in the workplace in a dating relationship, she will likely be a hot topic at the cooler—not him. So whether or not you pursue someone whom you can take the elevator with each morning to your desk, or if you decide you cannot share more than a cup of coffee in a meeting, there is no guarantee for a happy ending.Just be cautious. You can possibly arrive at the living happily ever after like Mika and Joe. Or not.