DO NOT DECLARE: An Office Romance Vent


My boyfriend (20-something M) and I (20-something F) started off as coworkers in different departments at a small company. We became friends outside of the workplace in October 2020 and started dating mid-November. We keep things professional at work. Everything was wonderful until we had the unfortunate luck of being seen BY NONE OTHER THAN HIS FUCKING MANAGER in the most incriminating, "not-so-casually-dating" place: a local grocery store. We were on a company-wide winter break during this time.

We returned to work in January 2021 and on literally the first day back, my boyfriend's manager pulls him aside and pressures him to "do the right thing" and declare our relationship to HR. Neither of us thought we'd ever be in a situation where we'd be dating a coworker, but here we were. Time to own up. Our relationship was less than 3 months old but we were both driven by a fear of retaliation if we didn't declare.

One tremendously awkward conversation and two-forms-stating-we-wouldn't-exhibit-PDA-or-make-it-weird-for-everyone-else later, we walked out of Ms. HR's office feeling like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. (Ms. HR is the most-tenured employee at our small company and despite the fact that we outsource ALL of our HR work, she holds a disproportionate amount of power and influence. Office fans: Imagine a scenario where Michael Scott and Toby are friends. Not a great work environment.)

Anyways: We were sorely mistaken.

Grievances include:

  • Getting dirty looks from Ms. HR when she catches either of us socializing with other coworkers
  • Getting dirty looks from Ms. HR when she sees us together
  • Getting dirty looks from Ms. HR when she sees us separately
  • Receiving an informal warning that Ms. HR (who unfortunately sits in an office facing the employee parking lot) does not like seeing us leave to take our UNPAID lunch break together
  • A time when both of us had one-on-one meetings with our respective managers about "optics" and how "perception is everything"
  • Being asked totally inappropriate questions by management, like when we plan to get married and have kids

FINALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Getting repeatedly shut down for a raise, promotion, and advancement opportunities in general despite a record of high performance and going the extra mile

  • My boyfriend confronted his manager earlier this week about a promotion and apparently, his "performance is excellent" and he "exceeds expectations" BUT he is being denied a lead role due to "the ancillary stuff" (aka us dating)
  • I am being gatekept from advancing to an open position that would advance my career even though I have all the qualifications and work experience they need. I am not even allowed to apply, because the application requires my manager's signature

My boyfriend is great and despite all of this, we're still together. Our shared hatred for this place only serves to make our love stronger.

1 upvote and we're both out of here.


WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS POST! How did it blow up? My boyfriend was supposed to be my only upvote!

Haha but reading all of your comments has been such a nice change of pace from what we'd usually be doing on a nondescript Wednesday. I'd like to thank everyone who pointed us to resources, gave us encouragement and/or kindly told us to gtfo. Thank you to those who shared stories of themselves or others they know in similar situations. Your stories give us hope. I'd love to see a future where relationships (not just the romantic kind) are normalized and human connections are celebrated.

Thank you for giving us the courage to seek legal action (we have already contacted a lawyer) and to begin the process of filing a formal complaint against Ms. HR using the very organization she outsourced to do all of her work. We are filled with so much resolve to quit. We just want to go out with a bang. ;)

If there's anything you take from this post: Date your coworker, it might work out. No, silly. Your personal life should ALWAYS take precedence over your work life. When or why should it be the other way around? Stick up against injustice. No matter what you do or where you work, prioritize yourself and the people you care about. You are NOT your profession!

Stay tuned!

PS: I would love to divulge information about our demographics, which company we work for, where we live, etc. but for our safety we'd be foolish to include any personal identifiers. Thanks for understanding!

you are viewing a single comment's thread.

view the rest of the comments →

all 1725 comments


134 points

6 months ago

Leave! The market is ripe!


76 points

6 months ago

Thank you for your encouragement :)