Workplace Romance In Retail

Workplace Romance In Retail

Since we have a longer February and we are only 20 days away from spring when love is in the air and due to the fact that I have been writing about heavier topics this week and working on very serious projects I wanted to share some interesting and fun statistics on workplace romance for my lighthearted topic this week.

With shows like MadMen and movies like Sur Mes Levres, Someone Like You, and Bridget Jones’ Diary [the first one…the second one was rubbish], it’s tough not to get a little caught up in the idea of a steamy and exciting [and a little bit risky] workplace affair/romance. I mean, c’mon…Jon Hamm/Don Draper…the way he wears a suit, that face, his confidence, his voice…I mean – what girl could resist him? But…I digress.

We spend a lot of time with our coworkers. Sometimes there is an extremely thin and blurry line between admiration and attraction. If we admire someone, let’s say a “boss” or someone who had an elevated level of authority to us, it is very easy to feel a level of attraction to this person. According to Dr. John Duffy, Clinical Psychologist, Consultant and Author, told The Grindstone:

“I think the factor that most allows for people falling in love with bosses and co-workers (despite many corporation policies) is exposure. We see the people we work with more than anyone else. In many corporate cultures, people work together for many hours a day, often well into the evening. They get to know one another quite intimately, and sometimes become attracted to one another and fall in love. I do think that some workers become enamored with the power their bosses carry, which can make the attraction even greater.”

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There are 8 fundamental triggers of attraction that women find in men:

  1. Looks
  2. Athleticism
  3. Money
  4. Power
  5. Status
  6. Style
  7. Confidence
  8. Purpose

Here are some pretty interesting statistics about office romance – the good, the bad, and the ugly:

  • 37% of workers have dated a coworker [of those relationships, 1 in 3 have led to marriage];
  • 17% of office affairs involved at least one person who was married at the time;
  • 33% had to keep their relationship a secret from their co-workers;
  • More than one 1 in 4 workers who have had an office romance have run into co-workers while out with their office sweetheart, and 17% owned up to it;
  • 12% say their trysts began late night on the job;
  • 9% of workers who have had an office romance claim they fell for their workplace loves at first sight;
  • 8% employees say they have a platonic “office spouse.”
  • 6% say that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person;
  • 24% have dated their boss;
  • In the UK, 28% have had an affair with a co-worker where one person involved was married at the time;
  • Studies have shown workplace romance participants are happier with their jobs, more motivated and, hence, perform better [Source: SIOP];
  • There have been more than 50 federal and state workplace romance-sexual harassment legal cases since 1980. And that’s not mentioning the far greater number of claims that have been handled internally without ever going to court [Source: SIOP]

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When Office Romance Goes Wrong

I subscribe to the philosophy that when there are two reasonable and consenting adults, regardless of how the relationship is established – workplace relationships can be successful, exciting, and extremely fun – even if they don’t work out in the long run, when both parties possess reason and a willingness to let adult common sense prevail, it doesn’t have to be disastrous. But there are lot of interesting stories about how workplace romance can go horribly wrong:

For instance, as Eric B. Meyer, points out in (his always entertaining way) the employment law story that is currently playing out of “A Chairperson Supposedly Tried To Get Her Direct Report To Marry Her Son. Her Son, The Company CEO.“. Or this recent story from Employment Law Daily, “Employee ‘encouraged’ sexual advances, so quid pro quo claim fails

Tips for Navigating a Workplace Romance

  • Check the Company Handbook – Some companies have strict policies around office relationships. Acquaint yourself with the rules before turning a professional relationship into a personal one.
  • Proceed with Caution – Some romances lead into marriage, but others can lead into disaster. 7% of workers reported having to leave their jobs because of an office romance that soured. Take the time to get to know someone first and carefully assess the risks and benefits.
  • Compartmentalize – Keep your work life separate from your home life. Avoid showing affection in the office and don’t involve coworkers in personal matters.
  • Think Before You Post – Be careful what you post on social media. Nothing will be kept secret for very long even without introducing Social Media into your relationship status.



Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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