Ask Darling D: I Have a Secret Relationship

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Dear Darling D,

I’ve been dating a guy for more than six months, but I haven’t told anyone about him. He’s wonderful, smart, mature, and makes me feel like a queen. I know my family and friends will love him. But we work together, and I’m scared of jeopardizing either of our careers. If anyone else knows, and then it gets out on social media or back to work we could both be in trouble. What do I do?

Thanks,

Brooke, Shhh Don’t Tell!

Dear Brooke,

First: I’m happy you found someone fantastic – it sounds like you’re really happy being with this guy!

Office romances are tricky. In some places they’re forbidden, in some they’re okay and in some it’s a big old awkward gray area. So I understand your caution. Without knowing details it’s hard to be specific, but I offer a few thoughts below.

  • What is your company’s official policy on office relationships? Maybe it’s not as bad as you think, and you’re building it up in your head. That’s my hope! Or maybe you’ve seen in-office relationships and the company has responded very poorly. Know for sure what the limits are. Check the employee handbook. You don’t want to make assumptions and make your life harder than it needs to be.
  • What is the breaking point for the two of you go public? Okay so you know the company policy around dating. What is the point at which you decide the two of you are going to go public with your relationship? Is it when you both know you’re in love and that the relationship has real future potential? Is it when one of you gets promoted or changes departments so you’re not working directly together? It will be helpful to know what that point is, so that you know there is an end point to the secrecy.
  • If/when you get to the point of going public, do you want to have a plan B? Let’s say the breaking point comes, you go public, and it doesn’t go as well as you hoped. Do you want to have a plan B in place? Is one of you willing to leave the company or some other major move in order to keep the relationship and keep professional goals?

Relationships are a beautiful part of the human experience. Keeping your relationship secret is a burden, and one that I don’t want you to have to bear! It might be easy at first, but over time it gets harder to maintain – the burden gets heavier, it’s harder to keep your stories straight, and even with your partner it’s hard to experience the relationship’s full joy when you can’t share it with anyone else. Particularly with someone great, I want you to experience all aspects of it and not worry about keeping it on the DL.

My advice is to do your due diligence regarding learning about your company’s office romance policy, talk with your guy about what you’re feeling, and decide together how to approach the situation. It may take a bit of time to know if this relationship is going somewhere or it may end abruptly one month from now (I hope not!). All I know is that you should be able to tell your family and friends that you found a guy who is all types of right for you, and you shouldn’t have to keep it a secret. I hope with my thoughts above that a little action on your part means you won’t have to keep it a secret much longer!

I can’t wait to hear about your public relationship soon, Brooke!

Darling D

ADD I have a secret October 2

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