Another bite out of Love Bites from Colette Li at Global Times:
Do office seducers flirt with disaster?
By Colette Li
“I don’t want to become ‘that girl’ who hooks up with all the guys in the office,” my friend told me between bites of brunch last weekend.
I had been hearing her gush about a new romantic interest in the office for a few weeks. Apparently, there were “sparks flying” and “covert flirting” between trips to the water cooler. Now she was spilling all the beans.
“He’s not just my coworker, but my ‘mentee.’ I’m the experienced colleague assigned to help him navigate office politics and locate the copy machine.” Interesting. I’m sensing a bit of reverse gender roles at play here.
“I’m not that worried about the mentor/mentee thing – I’m not his real manager and he’s only a year younger than I am. But I’ve already had liaisons with three other co-workers. One was just a kiss and the other two were a few months of harmless fun.” Aha, now we get to the real point.
“Should I keep things strictly business with my hot mentee, or should I go for it, no holds barred?”
I’ve been on the listening end in conversations with a lot of women who profess to have the hots for a sexy boss, but rare is the advice-seeker who comes to me pining for a junior co-worker. We’ve seen it on screen – Demi Moore in Disclosure and Rachel Green on Friends both played characters who tried to take things a little (or a lot) further with a man lower down the corporate totem pole – but I’ve yet to see it in real life.
As I pondered my friend’s quandary, I found the feminist in me getting worked up. If everyone male from Bill Clinton to David Letterman, to name just a few famous bosses with wandering eyes, is having fun with young female staffers, why shouldn’t we?
Personally, I see nothing wrong with an office mentor reciprocating the signals a mentee is sending her way. However, I would check the Employee Handbook before getting too involved with a co-worker. At larger corporations especially, there can be rather strict rules about office dating and serious professional repercussions if the relationship were discovered. Think about how much of a turn off it would be if one of an amorous duo – or both – were dismissed for violating workplace poli-cies.
Luckily for my friend, there were no injunctions against co-workers getting cozy at her company. But even with the rules cleared and out of the way, there were still other hang-ups. She wondered why she’s been so “lucky” with office men and, after a string of flings, has she become the “office tart?”
The whole “office tart” (or other less choicely-worded labels) perception is perhaps just self-inflicted guilt. It’s natural for young professionals who spend inordinate amounts of time together poring over contracts and presentations to develop romantic chemistry. After all, the simple fact of working life is that you see your colleagues way more than you see anyone else. If my friend found something specifically and individually appealing about each of her previous three office liaisons, then there’s really not much for her to worry about.
But, if she couldn’t honestly say that each coworker she cuddled (or kissed) was uniquely attractive in some way, then her predilection for workplace romance is just a matter of convenience. That is, the guys were simply there. If this were the case (and it isn’t), I would urge my friend – and other serial office romancers out there – to carve out separate work and personal spaces. Join a club, go to the gym, take a walk in the park – meet guys outside of the conference room, for Pete’s sake!
Ultimately, life is too short for guilt trips. As long as you’re having fun, not taking advantage of minors or subordinates and keeping things discrete from 9-to-6, there’s nothing wrong with going after someone who reciprocates your feelings.