Dating in 2019 is an extreme sport. All of us are constantly overworked and dating apps either bring no luck or make you question the concept of relationships because everyone just wants to ‘chill’.
So, where do you go looking for love? The place where you spend eighty per cent of your day: work. That is exactly what I did and what followed was a series of events that taught me so much about managing a personal relationship in my professional space. No points for guessing that it wasn’t cakewalk.Pro tip: If you are considering dating someone from work, make sure you don’t share the same team because shit gets pretty weird once people find out about your ‘situation’ and every colleague turns into a neighbourhood aunty who loves to gossip.
Let’s go back to how it all began.
After a terrible online date led me to uninstall the app, the gateway to getting anything close to sex just shut down. But human beings have needs and I certainly felt the 'love drought' taking over my single heart.
'Lonely' is a state of mind which eventually leads you to make some questionable decisions. Mine weren't very practical either because like the hungry-for-love puppy that I was, I went in for the first bone(r) that was thrown my way.
Office romances looked exciting in the movies and Jim and Pam set a very high benchmark for the rest of us.
We really need to stop getting ideas from TV shows and movies because when applied in real life, they don't always work out the way you expect them to. However, I have to admit that the process is exciting and it certainly did make me want to go to work every day. I know, right? Who would have thought?
Getting back to my love story, it was like life took a U-turn and I was back in school. He was in another department and we weren't exactly buddies but there was always a spark. He knew it. I knew it. Everyone in office knew it.
There was a certain measure of tension between the two of us and for some reason, I could never point out why. Stolen glances and a little social media stalking never hurt anyone and slowly, 'accidentally' bumping into each other while getting coffee every day at the same time became 'our' thing.
Mixing work with pleasure was against the office norms but millennials are known to bend the rules and I'm as much a millennial as they make them.These so-called random coffee breaks turned into smoke breaks and those eventually led to us eating lunch with only each other every single day. It was safe to say we were into each other and, soon enough, the whole office knew.
If there's one thing I know about gossip is that it spreads like wildfire. It wasn't long before every desk in the office was talking about the latest couple at work.
Dreading and secretly enjoying being the centre of attention all at the same time was affecting my work, and it didn't take long for my manager to start making some snide remarks. But since when did we start caring about what our bosses think of us? If you couldn't guess it by now, my love story never took a backseat.
We would come to office together, spend every break with each other and eventually head out for home together.
By then, the whole office had front row seats to my love story as it unfolded in front of everybody. I had never been on the receiving end of so much attention. To my surprise, a lot of my colleagues were even jealous of us because singlehood is like an epidemic in today's world.
But jealousy doesn't do anyone any good and my SO and I became soft targets for people's stares. Indifferent to their pettiness, he and I came to the conclusion that we won't let other people dictate how we behave with each other.
Wrong. So wrong."Log kya kahenge" is a legit thing and sooner or later, it does become your main concern. No matter how oblivious you are to your surroundings, in a professional environment, ignorance isn't a possibility nor a good idea.
The only thing I was thankful for is that the HR had no idea about what was happening.
When two people spend majority of their professional as well as personal time with each other, the probability of certain situations turning sour is very high.
Jeopardizing my career over a relationship wasn't part of my plan but I can't deny the fact that my work was taking a toll. Just like every other couple, we had our share of fights at home but it did take me a long minute to process that we were bringing our dirty laundry to work for everyone to see.
As much as I was expecting something to go wrong (because a peaceful life is a myth), accepting it isn't as easy as it sounds.It was like my love story was turning into daily entertainment for everybody at work and everyone knew when we were fighting and when we were getting along. He didn't help the situation either and started doing things which only embarrassed me.
Rachel, I feel you now. Ross did make your work life a little weird but at least he didn't work in the same office. Leaving flowers at my desk when I was mad at him, telling my team member to trick me into going to the cafeteria so he could 'discuss' our breakfast argument became an everyday thing.
A lot of people might find such things adorable and some even said they would love to have that kind of attention in life but if there's one thing about me that all my ex-boyfriends have suffered from is that I'm not a big fan of publicly declaring my love. I mean, I don't mind if people are aware of things but shoving it right in their faces wasn't my go-to plan.
Getting used to such treatment is a dangerous game to play and my boyfriend was a pro. His affection towards me escalated so quickly that I knew it's all going to come crashing down one day.
I had lost all concept of keeping my work and love life separate by then and it started taking a toll on me. Just like every other relationship in your early twenties, mine had run its course and, to be completely honest, I was done dealing with so much stress. Multitasking isn't one of my fortes and this was a bad combination.If only someone had told me... Oh wait, people did! Every advice in the world told me not do this but hormones over logic, right?
Which gets us to the beginning of the end of my office romance and boy, was it ugly. I was waiting for the right moment to have 'the talk' with him but we all know there are no right moments in life. You just grab one and pull the plug. But losing out on someone I was fond of wasn't my main concern; it was having to deal with the aftermath that got me thinking.It is common knowledge that when two people sleep with each other and eventually part ways, being in close proximity with each other is the first thing that should be avoided at all costs. But how the fuck do you do that when you work in a tiny start-up with fifty other people?
I didn't want to have a life where I have to think twice before making my way to the washroom so that I don't bump into him but given the poor decisions I had made, my options were running out.
Since mine was a small office, eating lunch was treated like a group activity but one I wasn't a part of anymore. My ex-boyfriend was a people-friendly person and since I was the one who ended the relationship, people were quick to judge me for 'breaking his heart'.
I personally think I did the both of us a favour but you can't exactly explain your thought process to everyone.
To end this misery, I decided to do what I thought I was great at: communicate. I know it's funny because I spent so much time avoiding him that having a grown up conversation about how we are going to deal with this break up never crossed my mind.
But better late than never and I sent him a text to see me in the cafeteria. BIG mistake.
Heartbroken people do not care about logic and I ended up making a fool of myself because his volume wasn't exactly at an ideal level and if people didn't know enough already, they did then. After that, there was no looking back. I decided that I will just go about my daily tasks without paying attention to what people say or do around me and it did take a lot of time but I got there.
My manager noticed I was struggling and eventually decided to help me out and having a senior by my side definitely made things easier.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not implying that relationships at work can't work. But if not executed well, things can go south for you before you can even blink. I don't walk on egg shells at work anymore and we exchange cordial hellos when we cross each other's paths. But if I could go back in time and do this all over again, I wouldn't.