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Does the Office Beat Dating Sites for Matchmaking?

Love at work: how common is it? In the last post celebrating "sin week," ELR may have come off as less than enthusiastic about the other celebration going on today. But actually there are plenty of reasons for a career blog to get excited about Valentine's Day if one recent survey is to be believed. But, if you're the kind who is grumpy about being surrounded by loved up couples and excessive red, than fear not -- another survey has encouragement for you as well.

Lots of organizations have gotten into the spirit of the day and put out surveys centered on dating and romance -- and the results of at least one suggest that for singles looking for love, you may be better off hanging out in the copier room than on Match.com or OkCupid. According to a CareerBuilder poll of nearly 4,000 people:

  • Approximately 40 percent of workers say they have dated someone they worked with over their career
  • 18 percent report dating co-workers at least twice in their career
  • 30 percent report they went on to marry a person they dated in the office.
As Aol Jobs points out, "that's better odds than on most dating websites!" But beware, the CareerBuilder survey also found that six percent of workers reported leaving a job due to an office romance.

But before you cancel your dating site subscription, Match.com is fighting back against the suggestion that offices are hotbeds of romance with a survey of its own. The dating site got anthropologist Helen Fisher, historian Stephanie Coontz, evolutionary biologist Justin Garcia to lend intellectual heft to its poll of 5,200 U.S. singles. Besides weighing in on gender differences in attitudes towards dating, the survey also found that office romances are much less common than the CareerBuilder survey suggests:

Office romances are few, short and not usually destructive. In the past five years, only 12 percent of singles dated someone in their office. Most workplace romances lasted less than three months and only six percent of women dated their boss. After breaking up, 56 percent reported this romance did not affect their professional relationship. 36 percent of singles would consider dating someone in the workplace.
It's never a good idea to take polls conducted for PR reasons as the gospel truth on any issue, and it's also not exactly clear how these dueling pollsters rounded up respondents. Perhaps Match.com pulled from the site's ranks, a group that by its very participation in online dating, is unlikely to have had much success at the office. Or maybe CareerBuilder's survey respondents were self-selected office romance boosters. But whatever the reason for the divergent data, the takeaway is clear -- the status of office romances is still in flux. In your opinion, are they a common and natural part of working life or a an occasional distraction that's unlikely to lead to lasting love?

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(Image courtesy of Flickr user aussiegall, CC 2.0)
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