It is not for nothing that men and women get entangled in romantic relationships in work places out of admiration, authority, need and protection. But most times, office romance becomes unhealthy because it is a ‘hidden agenda’ that does not see the light of the day. Whatever that treads the path of secrecy might not win an award after all. It is very rampant with married men taking the lead while their women follow them gently swimming in the pool of office romance. Since it is hidden in secrecy, protected in privacy, naturally, it hardly yields positive results, rather it breaks all barriers of guiding principles. Victims of office romance, both men and women, never agree they are involved in such relationships, rather they keep denying it till the last minute.
At times, office romance can as well lead to real marital bliss when two single matured minds are involved in it. But that is not the crux of this piece.
Romantic relationships induced by proximity in the office setting happens in government, corporate world, healthcare services organizations, educational institutions and other sundry offices where adult men and women interact.
Now, men and women who engage in ‘office romance’ get compensated one way or the other. They also get upper hand in some decisions relating to the companies or organizations because when most decisions are taken, the recipient would have privileged information, but not necessarily at all times. Romantic relationship in the office setting is unhealthy because it promotes rumour, rancour, suspicion, suspense; and most often lowers the integrity of the secret love birds. In a certain country, it was for office romance that an airline which was a national carrier was held up by the pilot and a member of the cabin crew as they got entangled in a tryst while passengers were delayed. Both staffers were on the roaster as part of the flight crew. Their love game delayed passengers and the airline was branded not sure to fly by the public. Passengers began to look elsewhere after that experience; with the resultant effect being gradual low turn-out of passengers until the company closed down years after.
In the same vein, dalliance between the managing director of a certain new generation bank and his secretary became common knowledge. It was so bad that they had nothing left other than to become live-in-lovers. The smooth operator MD now had two homes – one with his legal wife and the other with the concubine and unofficial second wife. Unfortunately, he died not long after the relationship produced a child.
As would be expected, the news made headlines as the wife claimed to be the “wife of his youth” and the concubine parroted, “I am the love of his life.” They both became the laughingstock at the funeral. There was also story of a randy branch manager who made sure he “tasted” all his female staff. His game was to use the power to promote as the carrot to lure them to a hotel room, where they obtained their promotion letters in kind. The bubble burst when the head office began to investigate his activities. The manager retreated, leaving the unlucky female staff whose promotion did not materialize, high and dry. One of the ladies fought back by drawing his manhood as a caricature and described in him the same manner that Tonto Dike once did regarding her former husband, who she called a ’40 seconds man.’ In shame, the man resigned and relocated abroad immediately. These are some of the dangers of office romance.
Now, consider the case of two colleagues in a corporate setting, where the man got into a relationship with a female youth corps member posted to serve her primary assignment in the company. After the end of the service year, the office lovers went their separate ways. A few years later, she got a marriage proposal from the cousin of her ex-lover. While preparations for the traditional marriage were going on, the ex-lover spilled the bean to his cousin, about what had transpired between them years ago. The proposed marriage ended right at that moment.
What about some religious clerics from various denominations who are moralists, wear innocent looks, sway their members with powerful sermon, yet very deadly in amorous affairs with their congregants? Office romance syndrome! To avoid the temptation to engage in office romance, a respected minister of the gospel swore never to employ female secretaries. All his secretaries have been men. So also in the corporate world, some women who do not trust their spouses have instead they take male secretaries in the office. But this measure has not in some cases proved effective as these bosses would soon find a way to go around ‘buying in’ their male secretaries in order to cover their tracks.
When a boss becomes entangled in a romantic relationship with a female staffer in his office, it often creates problems as rules are routinely broken to sustain the affair. Some of the girls involved become saucy towards other staff, bold and ungovernable because the ‘Oga’ protects her. Office romance has also led to the sack of some subordinate staffers who got too close Oga’s special office apples.
As it is with men, so it is with women in this matter of office romance. But the case of women may not be as pronounced as their male counterparts. I was shocked when I heard the story of a female married boss in a tertiary institution who got into an intimate affair with a young officer in her unit. They had gone for a weeklong conference outside their station and were accommodated in the same hotel in different rooms. The madam would call the boy to go through some files in her room, and lure him into romantic vibes. The boy was glad for the extra-curricular activities during the weeklong conference. It is common knowledge that female bosses select suitable ‘toyboys’ who they clean up and keep on a leash for themselves.
A married Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) struck up an affair with a female corps member posted to his station. It blossomed into a big relationship that went beyond the lady’s service year. When she celebrated her 35th birthday, the senior police officer spent a lot of money to mark the day. With marriage not forthcoming, she told the Supol lover-boy that she would stick to him as second wife as he had driven away all would be suitors. Both agreed and formalised their union, but back home, hell was let loose. First wife and her children dealt with him. So many men are entangled in office romance. While some enjoy it as long as it lasts and come out unscathed, others might not be so lucky.
Drama followed one case of office romance after the lady involved became pregnant and the man demanded that she must abort the pregnancy. The lady realizing that age was not on her side, refused to have an abortion. The man was in quandary over the matter as the lady would not be welcomed by the family or the church as he was seen as a decent man in the church. Moreover, he could not face his clique of accomplished school mates and friends. He was overwhelmed with regret for his action, but it was too late. Office romance, the new age name for adultery, is destructive evil, as a cleric told members of a traders association in a popular market, when they invited him to speak at their annual thanksgiving service. He urged the importers, traders and business people to desist from ‘office romance’ so that the Spirit of God would bless their endeavours and enable them to progress. A word is enough for the wise.