Having Office Affair—without Risking Your Job

By Josie Brown

Water cooler flirtations. Playing footsie under the conference table. Having sex in the supply closet.

If you’ve done any of the above, you’re in fast company.

According to a recent Spherion/Harris Interactive survey of 1,500 employees, 40 percent have contemplated an office affair, while another 40 percent have actually acted on the impulse.

And why not? A considerable number of our waking hours—forty hours each week or more on average—are spent at our jobs, not to mention weekends and overtime. We sit side-by-side in cubicles so small that you can’t help but learn every idiosyncrasy of your co-workers. We share victories, and commiserate over each other’s losses.

In some cases, we know them better than their friends or families.

Is it any wonder we’re open to making whoopee where we make our money?

Then there’s the thrill factor. Illicit sex—be it in a strange hotel room, or the boardroom—gives the words “bonus” and “perk” whole new meanings.

Odds are one out of three that an office affair will lead to a more permanent merger and acquisition: according to a Careerbuilder.com’s survey of 6,169 employees, that’s about the percentage that end up tying the knot.

But should your affair fizzle, can you afford to say take this job and shove it?

If the answer is no, here are six tips for ensuring that your passion won’t affect your paycheck:

Don’t date your boss.
He (or she) controls the purse strings. He’ll also be your reference for a new job. Even if things end by mutual consent, too much of your future depends on him. Why blow your respect for attraction? Just stay friends, both in the office and out.

Don’t date your boss’s boss, either.
All of the above, in triplicate.

Don’t date a married  colleague.
All the covert canoodling may make your heart race, but consider the consequence if your lover’s wife discovers her husband’s office peccadilloes. Not only will it be grounds for firing you and lover boy, it could also mean public embarrassment for the company—and maybe even a lawsuit. A woman scorned is the first one to find a good lawyer.

Don’t have sex in the office.
Whether you’re trysting in your private office or the company supply closet, you probably won’t be showing coworkers your best side if you get caught with your knickers around your ankles.  Even if someone doesn’t walk in on you, there may be office security cameras. Say cheese!

Don’t use inter-office email and text messaging systems for sending love notes.
Many offices employ spyware on their computer software systems. If you presume your lover’s naughty limericks—and your raunchy responses back to him—aren’t being read by the office webmaster and your boss, U R FUBAR.

Don’t bring your lovers’ quarrels into the office.
You may have found a new reason for going into the office (to gaze at your beloved), but your coworkers are traditionalists: they are there to do their jobs and collect their paychecks. That said, don’t put them in the middle of your soap opera. Even crying on a coworker’s shoulder may be something you may regret. When you and your guy kiss and make up, how will she know? What she’s left with is the lasting impression that he knows how to play you. Or worse yet, that you’re playing her.

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Josie Brown is SingleMindedWomen.com’s Relationship Channel Editor, and co-author, with her husband Martin, of THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO FINDING MR. RIGHT, the perfect self-help manual for your BFF (…okay, and for you, too).

Look for Josie’s third novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, in bookstores now.

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