Co-Worker Love: What to Do When the Romance Ends
8/6/2013 12:00:00 PM
They say you shouldn’t eat where you use the bathroom – and that’s the PG version of the old saying. But when you hear that said, it simply refers to not dating where you get your paycheck. Of course in some cases, workplace romance can flourish. I know a woman at 24 who was an intern and actually ended up being the CEO’s wife! While that is not the norm, it does prove every now and then workplace romance can work.
But what about when it doesn’t? According to CareerBuilder, 39% of workers have hooked up with a co-worker. That’s nice when you get along. But what happens when your romantic partner goes back to being a regular old co-worker? Anna Davies tells in “4 Ways to Deal When You Work with an Ex” for Women’s Health Magazine online edition. Peep what she advises:
Get Away From the Gossip
Your coworkers may be some of your closest friends, but it’s best to take a cue from Ian and Nina, who refused to fuel rumors and instead told the press that they’re going to “continue to work together and be best friends.” Even if the breakup was messy and you’re dying to dish, office happy hours are so not the place to do it, says Anna Ranieri, PhD, a psychologist and author of How Can I Help: What You Can (and Can’t) Do to Counsel a Friend, Colleague, or Family Member With a Problem.
Get Someone on Your Side
Since your office bestie is off-limits to discuss any daytime drama, enlist one of your out-of-office friends as your own personal support system during the days/weeks/months after the breakup, says Ranieri. “Having someone there to congratulate you on dealing with your ex effectively or to remind you to keep your head held high can help you move forward,” she says. Knowing a friend is only a text away can also help you avoid making any snide remarks when you’re interacting with your ex—especially if you two have to deal with each other a lot.
Focus on Your Own Stuff
Remember when your first grade teacher reminded you to keep your eyes on your own paper? The same principle is at play here, says Ranieri. Without you to do a last-minute read, maybe your boss will ream your guy out for his typo-laden report … but that’s no longer your concern. And if you always went to your ex for a pre-presentation pep talk, try finding someone else to fill that role (even if it’s you’re your mom, via phone). “Since ‘out of sight, out of mind’ may not be feasible, it’s your responsibility to create your own boundaries—and one of those is disengaging from each other’s work struggles and triumphs,” says Ranieri.
Lose the Guilt
Were you the one who called it off? If so, it’s hard not to feel bad if you see your ex looking downtrodden at the water cooler. But that attitude can end up biting you in the butt. “Getting distracted from your work by your ex won’t make him feel better,” says Ranieri. And don’t let him involve you in any drama. If he’s always e-mailing you or asking to talk during work hours, let him know it’s hard for you, too, and that you’re dealing by focusing as much on work as possible. And make sure you stick to this instead of stirring the pot even further by, say, flirting with Ned in accounting.
Find the Friendship Again
Chances are, you started as friends before you got together. If you can, it’s worth it to both your wellbeing and your career to unearth your initial, platonic attraction. Saying hey in the break room or not glaring at him during an all-employee gathering will go a long way toward getting you back on track. Just be careful about getting too involved, says Ranieri. Going out to lunch with a group of six other people—one of whom is your ex—is fine. But going on an afternoon coffee run just the two of you? Not a good idea—unless you’re prepared to deal with the office gossip and messy emotions that are bound to ensue.
Does work and romance mix? Not always - so be prepared in advance what you will do to move on since you have to go to work! Try to move on peacefully and re-focus on your J-O-B...not L-O-V-E!