Fishing Off the Company Pier

Last Updated Mar 9, 2007 5:42 PM EST

For several months, I've been having a secret relationship with another executive at my company. We don't like living in the dark, but our company "frowns upon" office romance. She wants to take our relationship public, but I worry that it will hurt our careers with the company. Where's the line?

Ah, yes. Fishing off the company pier. This is one of the biggest dilemmas of office life. Everyone will tell you that you shouldn't do it, but the problem is that the old company pier always has the best fishing.

To prepare for this answer, I did some research. There are literally dozens of books about office romance, including a few that don't have Fabio on the cover.  Then I took a long, hot shower and cleared my head of all that garbage. The answer is really quite simple...

[Cue the soft music.]

Go with your heart.

[OK. Kill the soft music.]

Let's look at this from the practical side. Will it hurt your career? It will definitely complicate things. If you and your gal work together on projects or, heaven forbid, one of you is superior to the other, you're going to get the hairy eyeball from your coworkers any time you let off even the hint of favoritism. 

This is the reality. The other reality is that, should your relationship sour, it's going to create Drama with a capital D.

Now it's time to ask yourself the hard question: is all of this worth it?

If you really care about each other, then any price is worth it. Sound your barbaric yawp and let the world know that you've met someone you care about. If your love story isn't so Whitmanesque and this is just a fling, then it's not worth letting your personal life impact your professional life.

If you do decide to go public, there are three rules you must follow:

1. Don't ever bring your personal problems into the office.

2. Keep the affection and cute little pet names at home.

3. Hold your partner to a higher standard than everyone else.

And if the two of you are alone in the office late one night and no one else is around... I better leave that one to the romance novelists. 

Have a workplace-ethics problem? Ask it here, or email
  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.