Dating your boss – the pros and cons

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While there is no doubt it is a natural phenomenon – to fall for the boss – it has a whole host of potential complications, more so than dating a colleague on the same level as you. It happens all the time and could be because people spend the majority of their time at work, so the attachments to people who are there can become much deeper. Power and authority can also make someone seem much more attractive – most people had a crush on a teacher when they were at school but never followed it through because they knew it was not allowed.

Once you are an adult a potential relationship with your boss may not necessarily have the same forbidden quality, but it is something you should consider very carefully as it could have long term consequences on both your careers. Here we look at the pros and cons:

Pros

You already have a strong shared interest – this is often why people develop feelings for their boss, there is a sense of teamwork and unity when you are pulling in the same direction and working for the same company. It can create strong feelings of intimacy, especially if you work in a challenging environment.

You will get plenty of time together – it doesn’t suit everyone, some people may find  working alongside someone maintaining a professional relationship, and then all evening in a personal relationship a bit too much. The danger is the roles will get blurred and either your work or personal life could suffer – having said that, some people thrive on having so much contact.

It will be good for your career – unfortunately even if this isn’t your motivation other people may view a relationship with the boss as a means to an end – a step up the career ladder rather than arising out of genuine attraction and affection. It will be good for your career if it works out and you end up in partnership but while there is a power difference there are likely to be problems.

Cons

It can damage your prospects – this is the case whether the relationship is successful or not. If you stay together progression in the company and pay rises may not come your way as your boss tries to protect themselves from being accused of favouritism. If you break up you might find your work life so uncomfortable you are forced to leave or your boss fires you.

Bad references – if the relationship doesn’t work out how would you feel about going back and asking your boss for a reference? If your relationship caused a stir within the company even another manager might be reluctant to give you a reference and future employers might regard you with suspicion if they discover that you dated your boss.

Damaging to relationships with other work colleagues – even if you think that the other people you work with are your friends if your start dating the boss you could find yourself the subject of gossip. Your co-workers may be ok at the beginning about you and your boss being close but over time you may find that they start getting jealous because they interpret any good praise or treatment you get as suspicious rather than something you have earned. This can work the other way too and they think that you only work as hard as you do because you want to impress the boss.

Company policy – Some companies actually have a policy to deter relationships between bosses and workers from arising and you may both find yourself on the receiving end of disciplinary procedures if your relationship comes to light. Given the current job market it is a good idea to check the company’s policy and put the welfare of your career and position ahead of any feelings you have for one another unless you are sure they are serious.

Solution

If it’s more than just a crush – The best thing you can do if you are serious about pursuing a relationship is to look for a new job before anything happens between you. Once you are established in a new company you will be free to pursue an open, honest relationship with your former boss without any risk of jeopardising either of your careers.

Already dating the boss? – remember a) maintain a professional standard in your work no matter how strong your feelings are – this will help avoid you getting into trouble with the company, b) be discreet and never discuss the details of your dates with other work colleagues, c) don’t use your expense accounts for dates or use the in-house email systems for personal correspondence, d) don’t conduct your relationship on company time.


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