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Dating in the workplace is risky business

By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50

As singles grow older, finding people to date becomes progressively more difficult. Singles need to be creative in searching out places to meet other singles.

Peggy, of Anaheim e-mailed, "Work is a great place to meet men. What are the downfalls of dating within the workplace?"

For singles 60-plus, this isn’t much of an issue. Most people in that age bracket are retired or nearing retirement.

Peggy explained, "I'm an emergency room nurse with policemen, firemen and paramedics coming and going all day. Most of them are young and the ones that are my age are either married or 'looking for a good time,' not a relationship."

There are many stories of people who met at work, fell in love, and went on to have successful relationships. So, dating at work can and does happen, but the downside is greater than the upside. Here are a few items to consider.

If you date a co-worker on a regular basis, how do you keep it private? Somebody will see you together, and then the entire office will know you're dating. You'll be under a microscope, and rumors will fly.

An office romance can be wonderful — you see each other every day — as long as it works. But, what happens when things sour? When you see the person in the hall, the cafeteria, or at a meeting, it'll be awkward.

You'll curse yourself (and probably him or her) for having been involved.

In my young and foolish days in the corporate world, I left a note on a woman's desk, asking her for a date. The note blew off her desk, and ended up in the office jokester's hands.

He posted it on the company bulletin board. Speaking of embarrassment.

When couples fall in love at work, often company policy will force one of them to leave. In that case, someone's career goes on the back burner. And what happens later to that person if the relationship doesn't work out?

Some companies, including most military installations, forbid their workers from dating fellow employees. The risk of collusion and security compromise is too high.

Most bars and restaurants won't hire couples. Cocktail servers and bartenders working together can easily rip a place off. And if the couple fights, it makes everyone around them uncomfortable.

When I worked for the Victoria Station restaurant chain in the 1970s, I made an exception to the company's "no couples" rule, by allowing a husband and wife to work in my restaurant.

They started having problems.

One day, she was seated at the bar; he felt she was flirting with a customer. He walked over and walloped her off the barstool. I had no choice but to terminate them both.

"It's Just Lunch," a dating service in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, conducted a survey and found that 94 percent of men and 81 percent of women said they don't date co-workers. But almost 40 percent of each gender admitted they had. I guess most of them found out it was a bad idea.

Dating someone at work can be tempting, but it's best to look beyond the workplace.

Weekly comments:

Patrick: "If a couple dates and works closely together, it sets up an unofficial hierarchy, which is mostly unproductive and can be destructive." 

Response: When a woman dates the boss, and is suddenly promoted without merit over more qualified women, office problems begin.

Tina: "The reason so many people date in the workplace – even though it’s often disastrous – is that it’s easy." Response: If either party is married, the stakes are even higher.

Mona, at Costco, in San Juan Capistrano: I had a date with you, years ago when I lived in Newport Beach." Response: "I remember. At least your dog liked me."

Annette, Fairbanks, Alaska: "I'm 51 and date men from 45 to 61. I have more in common with the men who are more active and hike, fish, take camera safaris, go to the theater or dinner." Response: Sounds like there's lots to do in Fairbanks. Do they ever pick you up in a dogsled?

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