Despite the fact that many companies have policies prohibiting interoffice dating (either written or implied), many modern employees see the office environment as one giant potential dating pool, and they’re ready to jump right in. While it certainly seems to be the case that meeting a potential mate these days is harder than it has been for past generations (at least if you want to meet the old fashioned way, face-to-face), that doesn’t necessarily mean that the office is your only source of romantic candidates. And frankly, most companies implement policies regarding fraternization because of the possible problems that can (and often do) result.
For starters, you need to consider what you’re looking for. If it’s anything less than a long-term, committed relationship, you should avoid office entanglements altogether. Flings and affairs are a no-no in general, but they’re even more out-of-bounds in an office setting simply because you’re going to have to see the other person after you break things off, whether you want to or not, and behave in a professional manner. If both you and your potential partner are seeking a love connection and you think this could be your one shot at happiness, you might be willing to suffer the consequences of circumventing the policy of your employer. And if you end up staying together (or even getting married), the brass will likely look the other way. The problem is that these happy outcomes are rare even under the best of circumstances.
If you’re a responsible adult, then you need to take a moment to consider the potential negative fallout that an office romance could foster. For one thing, it could bring drama to the workplace, whether you and your partner are in a tumultuous relationship or your other coworkers suspect that you are breaking the rules (resulting in some kind of unfair treatment). And should a breakup occur, there could be further issues to contend with. For example, one party may not want the relationship to end, or the split may get nasty on both sides. Either way you could end up in an extremely uncomfortable work environment.
Also, if your employer gets wind of the relationship, either you or your partner (or both) could face consequences as severe firing (depending on company policy). This, of course, could lead to problems in your relationship. And if one party feels spurned after a breakup, allegations of sexual harassment could result, leading to not only a loss of employment, but also litigation. This is actually what prompts most policies against interoffice dating, since companies wish to avoid the possibility of sexual harassment at all costs.
Then there are the potential personal damages to consider (to your health, for example). Sexual relationships can have all kinds of physical side effects, most notably pregnancy and the transmission of STDs. Even the best protection can fail, leaving you visiting a clinic for a pregnancy test or an exam with Western Blot Reagents to see if you caught something. Neither outcome is very appealing for most couples in the first flush of romance, so you might want to take that into consideration before you get hot and heavy, as well.