What Happens When You Fall In Love At The Office

“There is a certain game played in offices all over America. The people are bored, they don’t know what to do, so they play the office-romance game. Most of the time it means nothing but the passing of time. Sometimes they do manage to work off a screw or two on the side. But even then, it is just an offhand past time, like bowling or t.v. or a New Year’s Eve party. You’ve got to understand that it doesn’t mean anything and then you won’t get hurt. Do you understand what I mean?”
-Charles Bukowski, Post Office

I fell in love with you via email. I loved your style of writing, and your ability to make light of all the little disasters going on in our office. You and I were a team, and I liked having you on my side. For a while, I tried to convince myself that having you as my partner in crime, my commiseration comrade, could be enough.

It wasn’t.

The first time we went out, having you across the table from me was unexpectedly overwhelming. I’d grown so accustomed to the profile of your face, of your safe distance one seat to my left. I didn’t have that lag time between emails to think of something cute or witty to say. I couldn’t edit our conversation. Instead, I could barely keep the conversation going. Somehow, you didn’t seem to care.

There’s something both exhilarating and terrifying about sleeping with someone who you already have another kind of relationship with. The irresistible appeal of satisfying your curiosity, paired with the safety of your already established relationship can result in some of the most mind-blowing sex you’ve ever had. That is, of course, if you’re able to ignore that voice in the back of your head, the one that keeps asking, what if this doesn’t work out? Would you survive losing a friend and a lover in one fell swoop? Could you handle facing your co-worker every day if things go south?

What they don’t tell you about the office-romance game is that, when it ends, the worst part isn’t seeing your ex every day. It’s that your office becomes a living, breathing memorial of your time together.

You haven’t worked here in over a year, and yet I still think of you when our company throws those rambunctious parties that you used to hate. I wonder what you’d say if you knew that I now attend, and actually enjoy them. I sit right by our old desks, where you discreetly slipped me the earrings I had left at your place the night before — where we sat close enough to see each other’s reactions to our latest, non-work related email chain. It’s impossible not to think about how we used to meet by the elevators to make it seem like we weren’t slipping out together. I can’t go into that CVS on University Place without remembering our random excursion for your hair gel. For some unfortunate reason, whenever I search my inbox for anything, it brings up your old emails. Occasionally I read through them, and indulge myself in the nostalgia of what used to be our normal.

Recently, I accepted a new job, which involves more writing and less money. Part of me wonders if I would have been so quick to accept the offer had this office not been haunted. The rest of me wonders if I’d still be writing about you had we met someplace else. TC mark


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  • Katherine

    Sorry your office romance ended :( I was in the same boat, and we both had agreed it would be nothing, just, fun on the side of our jobs. Now we are going on strong, living together, and engaged (we work in different offices now). Some office romances work out, so don’t give up if another one comes by!

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  • SaraLily

    This was amazing! I am currently in the midst of an office ‘thing’ (don’t want to call it a romance since we’re not together but we’ve been doing this exact thing for about 6-7 months now) and can relate to every part of this! Loved the elevator meeting and the slipping of the earrings. Office romances are fun and thrilling. I didn’t expect that. I find it so hot when we’re both in a meeting the day after a night spent together. I look around and find it so amusing/sexy that no one in the room knows what we were up to the night before. But I always think about what might happen if things don’t work between us. It’ll be weird but luckily, his department is moving upstairs soon so we’ll have a floor separating us in the worst case scenario! thanks for the relate-able story on this Friday afternoon!

  • Samantha

    I have an office “thing” with a manager (not mine) at my work. It’s great and awful. When it’s hot, its really hot. But when I want to forget him it’s annoying to be reminded of him because his name is all over my inbox. I’m worried that my boss, one of his closest friends, will find out. I also think I have feelings for him, when to him it’s just sex. It’s complicated. I sort of wish it never happened, but the sex is so hot I probably won’t stop.

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  • Dora

    This hit home for me. I was involved in a “fling” of sorts with someone I work with. We had always gotten along from the very first day he started working where I do. I think we shared a mutual “you are my favorite person in this office” and there was always flirting. When he finally broke up with his g/f, we finally got more involved but life gets in the way and no relationship ever transpired. Now he is leaving and moving fairly far away and I am sad at the thought of the office without him. Office romances are hard to ignore but even harder to get over.

  • Rebecca

    The building becoming a monument is spot-on. When he moved across the country it was like he was haunting the workplace… I got a new job 2 weeks later.

  • Brillantes O. Pinyon

    Reblogged this on Brilliant Sunshine and commented:
    It’s that your office becomes a living, breathing memorial of your time together.

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