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Guest post: What to do when love ends at work?

Courtesy of Allie Gamble. 


Love is great, but when a relationship ends it can send you for a loop. If it happens to be a workplace relationship, you have a whole new set of issues to consider when the love ends. On a professional level, start by being aware of any policies your employer may have about co-workers dating. Legally, employers can’t forbid workplace dating. However, other factors make it an awkward situation when things don’t work out.

Give Yourself Time to Deal with it

Every breakup goes along with a process to get over it. Take some time off right after the breakup if possible. Anybody with a psychology degree will affirm that you need time to regain your composure and gather your thoughts before being forced into close quarters. Take time to deal with it and adjust. Regardless of the reasons for end of the relationship, the breakup process is basically the same. Avoid talking about the breakup at work, as this may force co-workers or friends to take sides and create an awkward workplace environment.

Think about the reasons for the end of the relationship and accept them. Dwelling isn’t healthy, especially if you still have to see your ex every day. Don’t second-guess the breakup. Keep your space as much as possible. This may mean adjusting the times you take breaks and who you go to lunch to limit your personal contact, at least for a while following the breakup.

The breakup process is different for everyone. Find comfort in your friends, use your support system, blow off steam, do some yoga or even eat some Ben and Jerry’s, if you feel so moved (but do remember, if you’re seeing him everyday, looking gorgeous might be the best revenge). Keep in mind that you’ll be seeing your new ex on a regular basis at work. Give yourself enough time to get over the initial upheaval before being around the other person again. Psychologically, you need time to process your feelings.

Discuss it with One Another

Find a time during non-working hours to talk the situation over. Even if the breakup wasn’t pretty, you still need to cover some basics with your ex. Be clear that you don’t want the breakup to interfere with your working relationship. Be clear about your feelings. Stay calm. Set and maintain boundaries. Needless to say, there’s no place for threats about getting the other person in trouble if they “don’t respect your space” Agree not to discuss the details of the breakup with co-workers, who did what to whom. The office rumor mill will only make things more awkward at work.

Know the Boundaries

Most workplace relationships end without major issues. According to a report published in the Journal of Management, there are two kinds of office romances that may be problematic: hierarchical romances in which one participant directly reports to the other, and relationships where one person advances because of their personal contact with another employee or supervisor. If you were in one of these kinds of relationships, your best bet is to deal with your company’s human resources department. Some employers make counseling available to employees under such circumstances. It’s best to take advantage of those services even if only to have something on record to show you dealt with the breakup in a positive, proactive way.

Keep it in Perspective

Not every breakup has to be dramatic. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and calling it off is responsible. You’re likely to go through several stages of grief after the end of a relationship, where you don’t want to think about the breakup, focusing on work and life. There may be a phase of blame and anger. Whatever you go though, seek out support from friends and be patient with yourself. The final stage is always acceptance.

It’s rarely easy to deal with the end of a romantic relationship. When you still have to work with the other person on a regular basis, a breakup can be an even greater challenge and take a higher toll in terms of stress. Take some time to handle the emotional impact of the breakup and put it in perspective. Keep your distance as much as possible initially and find a balance at work that doesn’t interfere with productivity or the workplace environment. In the long run it’ll be better for you, your job and your ex.

Thank you Allie!


2 thoughts on “Guest post: What to do when love ends at work?

  1. Having an a relationship with a coworker is not a problem,but breaking up is another issue. My friend used to have a relationship with her coworker,but after they breakup,things go downhill after that…

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