The perils of a work related romance as illustrated by The Office

Choosing to date someone you used to work with can be a formidable joy or a Joy Formidable if you want to reference the emo alt rock band playing at this year’s Vans Warped Tour. I’d rather you didn’t. Paradoxically speaking, office romances can be a lot of fun but the fear of the unknown can lead to unpleasant consequences. I warn everyone to proceed with caution when navigating the treacherous waters of an office romance. In its earliest stages, a work related romance can make the job more exciting. From the get-go you already have something very important in common: either a mutual love, hate, or love/hate relationship with your job. It can lead to a lot of wisecracks and barbs, “Is the boss really wearing a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat today? That goes great with his long beard. I didn’t know “surfer Jesus” was a look.” After mutual laughter, it dawns on you: This person is funny! Let’s see what else we have in common! After a few weeks you start to realize it’s a lot and that this guy you work with is actually pretty cute! Bam! Magic is happening. A work romance is born. You hit your first snag when you realize you have to “hide” it from your boss and coworkers. You have to treat this guy or gal like everyone else on the staff despite the fact that you’re hanging out and making out outside of work. In my particular situation my coworker and the boss’s son were close friends and the son sometimes worked with us. That’s when my coworker took his paranoia into overdrive and tried to snub me so nobody would get suspicious that we had a flirtation that went above and beyond what was considered average between female and male coworkers. Sometimes to “balance things out”, so to speak, my coworker would flirt with other girls on our staff just to show the other male coworkers “Hey I always chat up the ladies. I can prove it!” Then he overcompensates like Mystery, the infamous dinklesnout from VH1’s The Pickup Artist, that blink-and-you-missed-it gem from 2007. I then started to feel jealous towards the other girls that he was chatting up while ignoring me. Trust me, that emotional mind fuck does not make the job more fun. It creates drama and tension where there was none before. Welcome to the first unpleasant side effect of work related romances. The Office got it just right when Andy and Erin pretended to hate each other so no one would get suspicious. But when Andy took the act just a little too far, Erin started to cry inside.

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“That Erin chick is repulsive to me in every conceivable way.”

Fortunately for me, my coworker had to leave our job in order to attend school back East. We stayed in touch here and there as friends. After a couple of years, he moved back in the area after school and we decided to try out a relationship since he was working during the week and didn’t have time to work at his old job on the weekends with me (thank God). Now no one from work would know if we started dating. We began dating on the regular and our intimate relationship reached a new level. After awhile, we both mutually decided it wasn’t going to work out for the long term and we ended things. Flash forward 3 months later and my boss is freaking out that we are severely understaffed. Some of our staff decided not to show up to work with no explanation. Thanks a lot, fucktards. Within 2 hours my boss’s son walks through the door with (cue creepy foreshadowing music)….my ex! Awesome sauce. In a moment not unlike The Office, my ex greets casually, “Hey Sydney” like there wasn’t even a history between us. I reply nonchalantly, “Welcome back,” as I shake his hand. Because giving him a hug would be super obvi. Not that he helped matters by turning every shade of red possible like a 12 year old even though he’s a grown ass man. Good thing nobody noticed.

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“Welcome back, Dwight.”
Commence awkward handshake.
“Thank you, Angela.”
Phew! Crisis adverted!

Now comes the “fun” part. I have to treat this guy with whom I shared an intense emotional and physical connection like he’s no different than that other male server serving water at the table next to me. It took a lot of strength. Meanwhile, there were a lot of nagging feelings and unanswered questions as I knew we were work associates only and I would not be able to get any kind of closure. I wouldn’t wish this kind of emotional turmoil on anyone. Next, I had to deal with my new Latina female coworker suddenly deciding that today is the perfect day for a hairstyle change from her usual bun to wearing her hair down for the first time in the 2 months I’ve known her. Mind you she and my ex are the same ethnicity and at 19 she is closer to his age of 23. I can feel my 30 year old white ass being put out to pasture. She flashes him a smile and asks sweetly, “Hey, could you help me serve coffee?” In a way it’s funny but in another more real way it hits me like a big rig that he is no longer with me so he can do what he wants. We were so busy working that we never had a chance to talk. I just had to watch from the sidelines as this guy I used to know waltzed into my life for a brief period and right back out again like a dollar being dangled on a string. I left work that night feeling mildly excited but mainly disappointed and helpless. This is why I advise against work romances. The 2012 Gotye hit “Somebody that I used to blow” comes to mind. Wait that was “Somebody that I used to know?” I blame this senile slip up to being in my dirty thirties.

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