Many countries consider office romance a very polemic topic. While some tend to have strict policies against it, other organizations tend to be more lenient. Nevertheless, you have most likely heard of many love stories that have started at work and have even inspired others to move overseas. This mentioned, have you ever considered relocating for love? Well, today we brought you: Love Is in the Office - Is Dating a Coworker in Europe a Good Idea? In order to answer this big question, we’ve interviewed our Europe Language Jobs’ international team. Keep reading to find out some intriguing facts from locals & expats.
Along with ‘Is dating a coworker in Europe a good idea?’, we also asked:
- Would dating or getting romantically involved with a colleague be accepted in your town?
- Are there specific policies or guidelines to prevent such a thing?
- What is your experience with this type of scenario?
- How should a person approach an office romance?
According to one of our staff members, dating a colleague in Lisbon, Portugal is “perfectly normal since you spend a lot of time together”.
In the companies he/she has worked for, there were no such policies in which coworker love was forbidden or mortified. Nevertheless, it’s not recommendable, as it’s prefered to separate professional life from the personal one. “Sure thing, you can make friends and new contacts, but if things don't work out, it could affect your job performance and environment”.
When answering, ‘How should a person approach an office romance?’ He/she states that “I think you can be transparent with your team and hope for the best, as long as you both can keep it professional and drama free”.
When it comes to dating coworkers in Porto, our inside sources say that as long as the company doesn’t have any specific policies against it, it’s not a biggie. Afterall, “we do not choose who we love, love just happens”.
Our interviewed employee has had 5 different jobs in Porto, and is able to testify that there were always coworkers romantically involved with each other somehow, but that it wasn’t viewed as a problem.
When asked about their own experience, the response was:
“At one of my jobs, my bosses were even trying to arrange some type of romance between my colleague and I, but they had no luck ahahah we were just good co-workers. However, at another job my managers were dating, and honestly it didn’t look that great after a few years. I also had two friends who were also coworkers, and there were lots of ups and downs. I overall was never involved with someone at my job, so I don’t have any personal experience. I mean… I did have a boyfriend and we played in the same band. We were 18 and it wasn’t exactly a job, but it still wasn’t easy, especially when things didn’t go so well”.
Overall, the advice here is to be aware of how to separate work from romance. “If you are the kind of person who is able to do so, it’s perfect. Otherwise it will be very hard and at the end someone will have to leave the job.”
After speaking with one of our employees, originally from Barcelona, we understood that dating work colleagues is accepted as there is no general regulation or law that prohibits it. Nevertheless, some organizations might have specific rules when it comes to this such polemic topic.
Our source shares with us that:
“Two years ago I dated a coworker. In our case, we were already partners before joining the company (we just happened to get hired in the same place and at the same time). We didn't mention our relationship at all and we weren't affectionate in public. We weren't hiding it because I live in a small town and other co-workers knew we were a couple, but we also weren't proclaiming it outloud. I believe it would've been an issue if we were affectionate though, because of the type of company, it would've made things uncomfortable. At the moment I still don't know if our boss was aware of it. My instincts say yes, but he never said a word.”
“In terms of approaching an office romance, if I had a choice, I wouldn't do so hahah. I guess it depends on the person but having your partner at work can be good if you are having a bad day or you need support, but at the same time you see him/her too much and it can be overwhelming. Plus, if you get angry or have an argument (either at home or at work) it can affect your productivity in the workplace (at least in my case).”
In Galicia, dating a coworker seems to not be frowned upon by companies, according to one of our employees. “We spend a great deal of time at our jobs, so meeting your love partner is more likely to be done at the office than at a party,” he/she adds.
In this part of Spain, organizations also don’t seem prompt to have specific policies to cover this topic.
When asked “What is your experience with this type of scenario?” Our Galician native mentioned that he/she has worked with colleagues in the past, who went out together, but that during working hours they had kept it very professional. Additionally, it’s important to be able to separate what happens in the office with what happens outside the office. In the same way that we must know how to cooperate professionally with people or clients that we do not like or that would never be our friends.
Our staff believes that if the relationship “becomes a harmful situation (mobbing or workplace harassment), it is imperative to report the issue to a superior immediately, as this type of unacceptable behavior forces many people to quit their jobs.”
Our first Bulgarian source says that getting romantically involved with a colleague in Sofia, Bulgaria is acceptable in most cases. Companies that do not allow such things are rare, and usually have guidelines and rules about it.
Based on his/her personal experience:
“There were a few couples in my previous team. Their relationships started once they met in the company and from my point of view, it was not affecting their job in a negative manner, nor their communication with the rest of the team.”
Our staff member stresses the importance of being “slightly more careful and delicate than approaching a non-office romance” and to “keep most of the details and information about your personal life out of the office conversations.”
Interesting fact below!
According to some of our Bulgarian employees, there is a new negative trend going around, in which many young girls get involved with their managers, directors, or others in higher positions, in order to get a promotion and benefit somehow from the situation. Nevertheless, I believe this is something seen in many countries, and it’s difficult to control.
Our second Bulgarian source, also from Sofia, confirms that Bulgaria is open-minded when it comes to relationships in the office. “Based on our culture, I think we are quite understanding of a situation in which colleagues end up being more than that as long as it does not affect the work status quo. I would imagine things are even more uncritical if you don’t work in the same department or team.”
Our staff knows of a friend in a current happy relationship with her ex-boss. Their love started when they were colleagues. And although it is a situation based in Germany, they are his/her perfect example that “with or without strict policy, if it’s meant to be, it will be. And even if you don’t intentionally chase after work romance, life sometimes has it coming your way.”
When asked, “How should a person approach an office romance?” The response was: “We have all heard the saying ‘Don't get your honey where you get your money’. This being said, if companies develop dating policies, there must be a valid reason for that. They are trying to avoid a situation where the office is a place to flirt and mess around. After all, no company believes in: “We hate romance and have zero tolerance for love”. Long story short, my romantic soul happens to believe that situations like this should be approached with understanding as long as they are naturally evolving and treated with the required responsibility and correct manners.”
According to our Varna native, it is quite common to find your significant other in the work environment. However, “it is something that people prefer to keep under wraps from the fear of being talked about.
Our staff adds that “Bulgarians have a slang term for getting situations where someone gets benefits in their work because they know or are related to employees in higher positions “шуробаджанащина”.” In English, this could be translated to “nepotism”.
Differently from Sofia, Varna has some international companies with internal policies dedicated to the prevention of work relationships. Nevertheless, all local companies seem to be more relaxed about it. “People believe that their relationships are their own business and the companies’ management are usually not willing to interfere with people’s personal life as long as it doesn’t affect their performance.”
When asked “How should a person approach an office romance?” our employee said: “With respect towards the work environment and your team. A motivated and ambitious team is all that is needed for a project to go well, so we should all collectively strive to build that.”
Our native Estonian employee says that dating a colleague “isn’t something badly seen” in Tallinn. Nevertheless, she confesses that it isn’t “much welcomed in many companies.”
Some organizations seem to support policies that do not allow spouses to work together. This is usually done through a verbal agreement, or even as a clause in the labour contract. “Nevertheless, there are many love stories that began at the office. Love has no borders, nor obstacles that can’t be overpassed.”
When asked, “What is your experience with this type of scenario?” Our staff responded that “I have been in a relationship that has been lasting for quite some years now. However, I must say that my personal story began in a totally different environment and in a different country, which has a completely different vision over this.”
He/she believes that “professional and personal matters should not be mixed, even though it’s not always the easiest task.”
“I would definitely say that when a person sees that an office romance becomes something more serious, it’s much better and healthier to raise the question/possibility of changing the job (at least one of you). This is how you keep your professional life evolving and your personal life blossoming.”
Saint Petersburg, Russia:
Dating coworkers in Russian does happen. However, according to our sources, “such affairs are preferred to be happening in a clandestine way.”
Nevertheless, just like in Bulgaria, there seems to exist some “unprofessionalism in the work environment when some employers think the best way of getting promoted is to approach your manager in a more romantic way.”
Our staff says that if they were the director of a company, he/she would demand personal affairs to stay outside the professional atmosphere, so it wouldn’t disturb the workflow. However, they wouldn't make it strictly prohibited.
An office romance should be approached with “wisdom and responsibility, considering all the pros and cons and with certain personal skills to not harm any aspect of his, her, or anyone’s life.”
After interviewing our employee who has grown up, lived, and worked in Germany for years, we were able to understand that although dating a worker is not a terrible idea, it can also be problematic in some cases depending on the company.
When asked: “What is your experience with this type of scenario?” The response was: “ While I personally have never dated a coworker, I have previously worked with couples in an office and there have been no issues. They kept it very professional and only displayed affection rarely, although everybody knew about them. I think as long as there are certain boundaries such as appropriate working behaviour, dating someone in your workplace is no problem. Nevertheless, I imagine it must be very difficult when the relationship is not going so great. Seeing each other every day at work and interacting with other colleagues might be difficult and emotionally exhausting.”
When it comes to notifying the supervisor about the relationship, our staff believes that it should only be done if the couple is serious about it.
Personal love story!
“I have myself relocated twice for love. Once from Germany to Scotland when I was about 19 years old and more recently, I moved to Barcelona because my girlfriend got an internship here.”
These were some of our international employees' responses. What did you think of them? Were you aware of how office relationships are viewed in those countries? Love is In the Office - Is Dating a Coworker in Europe a Good Idea? If we haven’t mentioned yours, feel free to let us know how it works where you’re from. We’d love to hear about it. And remember, regardless of whether you’ll meet your one and only in the workplace, they might just be one country away! Browse job opportunities and relocate today!