Relationships at work: The do’s and don’ts



Dr. Dar Hawks

Jimmy Kimmel

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Are David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, and ESPN‘S Steve Phillips just doing what most people do at work?We’ve all heard about what Letterman has gone through and now he is struggling to keep his marriage together – what about the impact to his young child?  Jimmy Kimmel is dating a head writer and that’s causing all kinds of friction amongst co-workers who say she is getting special treatment. And Married Steve Phillips was just fired for having an affair with a 22 year old co-worker.

Are relationships in the workplace a good idea or not?

David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel are just the most current individuals caught in the act of cheating, Senator John Edwards, President Bill Clinton, and many others have been caught.  I think the overarching message here is that eventually you do get caught if you cheat in any way.  It matters not if you have money or are in a powerful position or not.  And, it is not just men who cheat, women do too – they just don’t make the headlines.

Having said that, I do support workplace romance as long as some basic rules are followed. (One platinum rule is DON’T CHEAT on your spouse or if you are in a committed relationships.)

It is common to meet prospective mates/dates at work because we simply are spending more time at work and it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Just be real about it, be honest, and follow these do’s and don’ts:


1. Don’t Date Your Boss:

  • Your boss will always have the power over you and your job.
  • You will be the topic of gossip – it does not matter what you think – you will be the brunt of it.
  • Your career may or may not benefit from the affair – it is a risky business – you will spend years trying to overcome it because everyone will know you as ‘the one who did it!”
  • The boss rarely leaves the spouse for the coworker, don’t be the one who gets left behind (career and all).

2.  Don’t believe that you can hide your relationship if you pursue it.

  • You may think you are hiding it, but people see through it very quickly.
  • You cannot act like nothing is going on for very long, if at all.
  • You will act differently and people will pick up on it, so don’t kid yourself.
  • It will become public, so you both better be prepared on how you will address it.  If you have followed the company rules and there is no conflict of interest, then there should not be any issue.  If it does not work out, behave like a professional adult at work – if you cannot, then it is time to find another job.

3.   Don’t mess around if you are married or in a committed relationship.

  • Don’t be a coward – have the kahunas to separate from your existing relationship before you choose to stray from it by having an affair.
  • If you have issues in your current relationship, address them instead of being a coward and avoiding them.
  • Either honor your commitment to your relationship or get out honorably.  I said it 3 times in 3 different ways.  ‘Nuff said!


  1. Check the company policy about Dating and Marrying a coworker if you are thinking about dating someone at the office.  Also if you live in an employment at will state, you need to research what that means to you if you do not adhere to the company policy.
  2. If you do pursue the romance – discuss how you will both handle yourselves/behave at work and stick to it and the company policy.
  3. Have an exit strategy – Discuss and agree on how you will handle yourselves/behave if it does not work out and stick to it.
  4. If the relationship looks like it is becoming more serious, you should have a strategy for your jobs – will one of you have to leave the job or move to another department for example?  What will the financial ramifications be if one of you loses your job? You should both also discuss the relationship with your boss so that they can either support you or let you know exactly how they feel about it – be prepared.

As usual, honesty, integrity and planning will set you up for success.  Go into it with your eyes wide open and don’t be a coward!

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