Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wilting Rose of Office Romance ... by Cindy Beck

Tags: love, romance,

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The well-known poem by Robert Burns, (Love is Like) A Red, Red Rose, compares love to a blossoming flower. And some believe romantic love should be allowed to blossom, whenever and wherever it grows. However, is that really such a good idea? It might be fine for love to bloom at church on Sunday, at a ward picnic, or at a single’s dance, but how about at the office? Obviously, as Latter-day Saints, we’re not talking about extra-marital affairs, where one or both individuals are married, but are talking about singles. Even so, consider these reasons why work romances might be a bad idea, and why love that starts as a blossoming flower might end up wilting like a three-week-old cut rose.

The Company Rules. Many worksites have rules that don’t allow romantic relationships between employees. Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “…let potential employers know you have high ethical and moral standards….” As Latter-day Saints with a moral and ethical code, when we agree to work for a company, aren’t we also agreeing to abide by their rules?

The bud of love may develop in an individual’s heart, and nothing can stop that. However, in the name of ethics, might not the smart person refuse to nurture it, and instead, let it fade away?

Shhhh, it’s a Secret. A secret love is supposed to be … well … secret! Yet, most couples are unable to keep it concealed, and sooner or later (usually sooner), the happy couple lets something slip. Even if they don’t, it’s not hard to figure it out – especially when two people are sending paper airplanes to each other over their cubicle walls with “I love you!” written on them in red, indelible marker. Co-workers might find the whole situation adorable for a week or so, but after that, they inevitably wish for it to be finished. If the company maintains a non-fraternization rule, colleagues might be placed in an awkward position by keeping the secret a secret.

He’s Right! No, She’s Right! From what I’ve seen, romantic work entanglements usually have an unhappy ending. If the flower of love wilts, workmates end up siding with one person or the other. Strife increases in the workplace as the no-longer-loving couple argues and eventually ends the relationship. Co-workers are caught in the middle. As a result, work output decreases, and a once friendly atmosphere becomes charged with tension and distrust. Elder L. Tom Perry in his talk, “The Joy of Honest Labor” told us that we should put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage, but it’s difficult to do that in an environment filled with tumult.

They Rode Unhappily Into the Sunset. In one of the workplace romances that I witnessed, the relationship went fine for a while, but then the man lost interest. Unfortunately, the woman didn’t. Feeling hurt when he didn’t respond as she expected, she shared details with workmates. The relationship between the couple deteriorated further and he moved away to a bigger city, partially to escape the problems. Talk about an office romance wilting like a rose!

TV shows often portray romantic work events that culminate in marriage, but television is the world of make-believe. Although there may be work romances that have worked out in real life, often times it creates more problems than it solves, leaving two broken hearts in its wake.

I’m not trying to detract from the joy of finding love, nor saying we shouldn’t take a chance on it. I am saying there are large risks involved with office entanglements – dangers such as getting fired over non-fraternization rules, losing friends if the relationship ends, or feeling the need to find other employment and to move elsewhere if the romance fizzles.

Some reading this may have a happy union from an office romance. Others may be happily married, but had an unhappy ending before finding love elsewhere. Still others might have been friends, caught in the middle when a co-worker’s relationship went south. Regardless of which side of the fence you’ve been on … or even if you’ve straddled it … I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue!

------ "The Wilting Rose of Office Romance" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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