breaking up with someone you work with

know what’s awesome?

breaking up with someone you have to look at and talk to 8 hours a day!

and by awesome, i mean if your office is Tokyo, Godzilla is about to get all bi-polar up in your cubicle.

regardless of what says, most people meet the person they date/marry in the workplace or school.  so it makes sense there’s a real chance someone is going to end a relationship there, too.


and if you think i’m going to throw unicorn glitter on this and magically make it not suck with some super clever list that has been blessed by God and dipped in wisdom flavored chocolate, your aptitude for hyperbole and nonsense should take Olympic gold.

unicorns, glitter, God, chocolate and the Olympics in one sentence.  boom.  other writers can just give up now, because Pullitzer just spontaneously combusted.

oh, right.  the list.  it will be helpful, probably, but it won’t make this situation not completely blow.  in a perfect world, you will both be rational and decide how to handle each other before the next work day dawns and stick to it like grown ups. 

but if not…

surviving a workplace break up:

1.  just you:  you can only be responsible for your own behavior.  do not try to control what the other person does, no matter how nutso.  that will only make it worse.

2.  no gossip:  don’t bring your drama to the office.  reasonable co-workers will hate it and not think well of you.  others will eat it up and contribute to dragging this crap out until everyone wants stab you.  and feel free to tell those who try to get you to spill the details to butt the hell out.  it’s none of their business.  the flip side of that is to shut those douches down when they try to tell you what your ex is saying about you.  refuse to hear it.

3.  no avoidance:  if you try to avoid your ex in the workplace, the awkward level is going to hit defcon 5.  politeness sounds terrible, but it’s really your best option.  be respectful and kind without being patronizing.  i totally get that the line is finer than baby hair, but you’re going to have to walk it, my dear.

4.  no flirting:  i know.  you are now a free agent.  but there’s no need to rub that in your ex’s face by being tacky.  because it would be tacky.  not to mention unprofessional and jerkish.

5.  let it go:  if you were the one dumped and are wanting to get back together, you’re going to have to move on.  definitely do not bring it up during work, but also no calls, no emails, no texts.  you are going to have move forward as though you’re fine with the ending and eventually, my darling who doesn’t believe me right now, you will be.

moral of the story:  be an adult.  grab your maturity by the short hairs and hang on.  your desire to do the wrong thing is going to rival the Temptation of Christ, but you’ll manage.

have you ever been in an office break up?

what did i miss?  other things you should do or not do?


11 comments on “breaking up with someone you work with

  1. daterofboys says:

    Been there…almost good to have a game plan going into it…make sure everyone’s on the same page. But that’s not always possible…so #5’s point of no calling/emailing is KEY.

  2. Honest question: How do you do #5 without effing up #3? I was never, ever in my life good at making that distinction.

    • #3 is courtesy and professionalism during business hours. #5 keeps the tension and drama to minimum so the spill over into the workplace doesn’t look like the Exxon Valdez. i guess the nutshell is to drop the personal relationship stuff entirely or as much as humanly possible.

  3. janakaye says:

    Polite avoidance works. Be courteous and professional when contact is necessary, but I typically do try to avoid any extra contact when possible. If you’re the breaker-upper, that’s kinder to the breakee…if you’re the breakee, it avoids the guilt trip on the breaker-upper and helps you to emotionally detach from the relationship.

  4. janakaye says:

    also, never dating at the office again, which is my rule now.

  5. Edwin - says:

    I second Janakaye with the no office dating! haha

  6. asoulwalker says:

    That picture is amazing… seriously, what could spawn that sort of thing? What is that persons world like? Utterly fascinating.

  7. sleeping with people you work with should probably be avoided at all costs in my view. I know a lot of people do but the costs column well outweighs the benefits.
    I know a colleague who brought her young son into work after a rather messy Christmas party. Her son pointed to a male colleague and said ‘I remember you. You were in my mum’s bed last week.’ (high Mily Cyrus voice) Busted!

  8. Lynne says:

    This entire post reminds me of The Newsroom (which is an excellent show, btw. First episode is on YouTube)

  9. Mike says:

    Hey Sharideth, been reading you regularly for a while now. Guess why? ‘Cause i went thru an office breakup and started googling every combination of phrases I won’t repeat here that you can imagine. And found you, thank Bog. This site is just the absolute best. If I’d had you advising me in high school – wow….
    But my breakup was brutal because it was secret. I was the receptionist at the time and she is the Director of our budget unit. We’d have both lost our jobs if anyone knew. But we’d been sort of geeky friends for a while and one day she just kinda propositioned me. It was kinda hot, actually, and we had an insane 8 months.
    But alas, all things must pass. It ended and I was a WRECK for about 6 months. Not only did no one know we’d even been dating, no one could find out that we’d broken up. It was BRUTAL. The good news is that she put up with my postbreakup crazy, we somehow stayed close and she brought me out of a shell I’d been in for way too long. Amazing 8 months. And amazingly, indescribably horrific what I went through when she ended it.
    But now she’s making all of us at the office insane by getting back with her ex husband of all people (she’s a narcissist, and a pretty powerful one to boot – but that’s another story, I’m sure you’d agree).
    Anyway – my advice to your readers: do not EVER date a coworker. There are a hundred valid reasons for that simple, over-used statement. But if you absolutely MUST – and I did – just make the most of every day and agree that it could end at any time, by either party, NO questions asked.
    Kris Kristofferson said: “I’d rather be sorry for things that I did, than for things that I didn’t do.”
    And thanks as always, S. You’re a big part of what got me through that mess.

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