Office romances create the thrill of furtive glances when you walk past each other and when you send coded messages over the instant messaging system:
“I am enjoying our joint venture, Project Collaboration is very rewarding.”
“I agree, however you’ve just been enrolled in Project Chlamydia.”
Who hasn’t wanted to congratulate someone for upholding your pillar of excellence? I’ll admit that on occasion I too have dipped my pen in the company ink and written over her tits.
How does one develop an office fling? How have I not been slapped with a messy lawsuit or an ugly scene in the cafeteria despite the fact that she has more issues than Playboy? It’s fairly simple really; I have figured out some simple rules to avoid marriage, a messy break up or a sexual harassment trial:
• Don’t ask anyone out while you are at work. Propose an innocuous social event outside of office walls that anyone can attend.
• It doesn’t matter if she says yes or no, when you are at the office you behave exactly as you otherwise would. If someone approaches you when you are having a conversation, keep going. Scurrying away is too obvious.
• Market research – find out if they are single first. Don’t find this out asking too many people, you’ll shoot yourself in the leather shoe.
• It’s better if you are visiting an office or only temporarily in a department. You can at least remain courteous until you leave.
• Don’t tell anyone you work with. I said don’t tell anyone you work with. Genuinely, don’t tell anyone you work with. They will find out anyway when you kiss her goodnight outside your apartment as your house-mate, who is a co-worker, returns home from a work-based hiking trip that you said you had been too ill to attend.
• Don’t date anyone who is in therapy or on medication.
• Don’t date anyone who needs therapy or medication.
• Break up with someone by inviting them to join your cult. They will be horrified and end the relationship imminently. As a bonus, your new found religious status is protected under HR law.
• Don’t pursue someone that everyone else in the office wants to sleep with. Become so irresistible that she pursues you. Fake an accent, lie about your past or if you must, maintain basic standards of hygiene.
Sadly, the above guidelines may not be sufficient for stopping a slippery decline into a public battle. Situations can turn sour with even the best of intentions and the utmost preparation. Sometimes, you just end up with a psychopath who wants to use your lungs as bagpipes. I have summarized the tell-tale signs that someone is tipping over the edge:
You need a strong deterrent to stop all hell from breaking loose. Thankfully, the world of nuclear weaponry can be of assistance here. The acronym MAD stands for “Mutually Assured Destruction,” which means arming yourself with such a powerful arsenal that anyone who attacks you is guaranteed a similar grizzly fate.
In the context of an office relationship, mutually assured destruction means only one thing: naked photographs. It doesn’t matter how bad it gets; the threat of showing your colleagues photos of your former darling with legs akimbo nullifies virtually all potential hostilities. Like any private equity transaction, always have an exit strategy.