When I started working as a reporter in my twenties, it seemed inevitable that I would date some of my colleagues. Beyond having shared interests and ambitions, it was just easier. Work is where you meet people. It’s where you bond over intense projects, present your smarter self as you solve problems and share inside jokes about horrible bosses. And on Fleet Street, the home to British journalism where I worked in my early career, the hours were long, the work was hard, and it bred an intense camaraderie. Once you’d hit the deadline, it was standard behavior to go de-stress with a pint or gin and tonic at one of the 400 year-old pubs that London is famous for. Flirtations happened, as did hook ups. Hearts were broken, relationships blossomed. You just never know.
Everyone knows an office romance can be fraught, especially if one in the couple has more seniority than the other. And yet the heart does what it wants. Tina Brown, the most famous young writer when I was coming up in publishing, married Harry Evans, then the most famous editor. It was big news, akin to a royal wedding. Thirty-seven years later, they’re still married.
Interviewing Brown for her recent book The Vanity Fair Diaries, I asked her to recall their initial romance. “I sexually harassed him,” she said, laughing. Clearly, he welcomed it and their relationship not only has survived, but has also withstood their work life, likely enriched it.
As Tina and Harry prove—finding a life partner through work can and does happen. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder.com survey on office romance, 31% of workers who dated at work ended up getting married. The point is that you love whom you love, no matter if that person sits in the neighboring cube or you report to him or her during your annual review. But it is tricky—especially in this post metoo moment where power dynamics come into play. Feelings in any romantic relationship are intensified, so it’s crucial to keep them separate from the workplace—whether you are equals, working on the same team together, or your love interest has more seniority than you do, or vice versa.