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Letterman: Office Romance or Dating Disaster?

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Your handsome coworker has been giving you the eye -- do you go for it or say "no way"?

Workers talking intimately in office

Dr. Michelle Golland: David Letterman and his office trysts are in the glare of the media right now. Everyone is less focused on the alleged extortion attempts and more interested in whether he should have ever even entered into sexual relationships with women at work. His wife worked for him at The David Letterman Show for years before they were married and had a child together. This is one office romance that seemed to work out for him.

One big question is whether CBS will now have to deal with lawsuits from the other women or possibly coworkers who feel they were treated differently because they did not enter into a sexual relationship with David Letterman. These may include women who did not get to go on camera and perform skits even though they very well could have done that job.

The most important areas of our lives tend to be LOVE and WORK. What do we do when they become one and the same? If we spend most of our hours at work, where else do we think we will actually meet our love partners? In most industries and organizations, they have tried to stem the tide of love in the office. You may like it, but your boss or the company you work for will most likely hate it!

There are three things that concern employers about office romances -- all of which can impact the bottom line for the boss.

1) Potential for Abuse: You are dating your boss, and you realize he is a real jerk and end the romance. The potential for abuse or perceived abuse is huge. Will you get promoted or not because of the liaison? We will never know the truth once a romance has started.

2) Potential for Alliance: If two people on the same office sales team use their power together, they can impact other workers negatively -- which causes intense office politics. The negative feelings other coworkers have about the relationship and how it is impacting their job and income can become a real sore spot for the company to deal with. If you are dating your boss and you begin to get promotions, you as well as others will question if you are truly deserving of this or if it is simply "special" treatment.

3) Potential for Distraction: Even if the romance is going strong, it can be a positive distraction for both parties. Instead of thinking of that sales meeting in 10 minutes, you are e-mailing your lover boy in the next cubicle. It is also very distracting for the other coworkers. They become interested -- and if there is a bad breakup, usually everyone is picking sides, which is ripe for further discontent and distraction by many people in the office.

Love at the office can bring up issues of favoritism, suspicions about the misuse of company time and resources, and an overall resentment of people, which can simply erode the focus, trust, and commitment that any company depends upon for high productivity.

Sheer awkwardness between the former lovers tends to jeopardize the career of at least one of them. You need to decide if the liaison is worth the potential loss of your job. If you are going to pursue the romance at the office, you must both proceed with grace and dignity.

Guiding Principles of Love at Work:

• Know the Office Policy: If your company merely discourages office romances, then it is your discretion that will make things go much smoother. If there is an explicit HR policy forbidding office liaisons, get ahold of yourself, join an Internet dating service, and give up the lost love at work or it will cost you your job!

No 9-5 Hanky-Panky: That means no cutesy, affectionate, or dirty e-mails, no after-hours sex in the office, no closed-door stolen moments of affection. If you must have an office romance, just don't do it at the office!

• Company Funds: Don't spend any company funds to further your affair. That means booking business trips together and getting adjoining rooms or having dinner on the company card under the pretense of discussing work.

• Don't Tell: You must try to keep your relationship private to avoid the horrible pitfalls that could land you in the unemployment line. Don't gossip, confide, and indulge the impulse to scream about your new love from the top of the office building.

It seems that David Letterman kept his office romances as discrete as possible, but I am sure -- given the huge fallout in both his personal life as well as professional world -- he wishes he had made different choices. For David Letterman, his office indiscretions may be disastrous -- but only time will tell.

next: Why Do YOU Have Sex?
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nkanyezi October 6, 2009, 2:24 PM

I have had an office romance before! It was great while it lasted and we are still friends so….. I wouldn’t recommend it, though to many things can go either way.

ame i. October 6, 2009, 5:29 PM

I think it depends on the number of employees. Hooking with a co-worker in a 30 person office = nope, shouldn’t do it. 100+ is probably okay.

Kristi October 6, 2009, 7:15 PM

I’m pretty shocked that a licensed clinical psychologist would describe a superior having sex with subordinate staffers as “trysts” or “office romances.” Given the power differential between the two parties, you’re looking at exploitation from the get-go. There’s no way to remove the superior’s power and influence from the equation, and that reduces any chance of authentic consent on the part of the subordinate. It doesn’t matter that they’re both adults. There is enormous potential for abuse and exploitation when a person in power has any kind of sexual relationship with a subordinate. Period.

quesadilla October 6, 2009, 9:03 PM

I like a lot of David Letterman’s jokes; they tend to be a lot cleaner than those of a lot of other late-night talk show hosts. However, I had long since ceased my own late-night ‘affair’ with him when reports of his nasty joke about Ms. Palin’s daughter were blared so loud you would think they were air-raid sirens. David Letterman is a lousy liberal Democrat. He has no appreciation for his freedoms as guaranteed by The Constitution of the United States of America and The Declaration of Independence. Letterman is old enough to remember most of the Cold War, or at least his own Cold War delusions. Or, maybe he lost those memories during an infarction. If he wanted to, he could do some research about the small part of 20th Century world history he wasn’t alive for…oh, never mind — I forgot for a moment that he’s not an intelligent person; he’s a comedian! Once one of them has their own show, he/she never has to bother with even the simplest of authentic thoughts ever again. I’m sure Letterman lost most of his advanced (primate) cognitive abilities LONG before he needed [medical] vascular assistance…as I mentioned previously, he’s a lousy-liberal.

Dating Someone October 7, 2009, 3:15 AM

I had a relationship with my officemate before but it did not last long. I am unhappy and uncomfortable dating someone other than my husband.

Gigohead  October 7, 2009, 2:37 PM

What I think was hurtful is that Dave continued to see this girl after she was already moved in with her boyfriend. He hooked up with her in Montana before he got married to his then girlfriend. The girl was living with the guy who extorted David. No wonder this guy is mad. I would be too if boyfriend did that with his boss.

Robor October 8, 2009, 2:55 AM

Hi, Everything dynamic and very positively! :)

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