Avoid the office Romeo

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The Independent Online
When Judith started a new job in a PR company she became friendly with one of her male colleagues and a romance soon developed. "Everyone seemed to get on really well and I felt a bit left out at first. Terry really made an effort to get to know me. I was flattered." Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that Terry had had several flings with other women in the office.

"He wasn't embarrassed about it," she says. "In fact, he seemed to enjoy the fact that people were talking about him. He dumped me after a few weeks and although no one actually said anything I could see them giving me sympathetic looks. I couldn't handle it, so I left."

Falling for a scoundrel, of course, is nothing new, but fall for the office philanderer, however, and you may still have to face him over the photocopier for months to come.

"Romance at work is inescapable," says Sophie Rowan, a psychologist. "Work is such a major part of our lives. But the golden rule is to steer clear of anyone with a reputation. People have usually got it for a very good reason." However, as the new boy or girl, unaware of office politics and keen to get on with everyone, you're especially vulnerable to the advances of the office Romeo.

Keep your distance, says Ms Rowan, until you know your new colleagues better. It's a fatal mistake to become romantically involved with anyone you work with in the first three months of a new job. Your first priority is to create a good impression and make professional contacts.

The office Romeo is often looking for attention or or is just plain bored, according to Ms Rowan. "Of course," she adds "it's not always possible to be rational where emotions are concerned and if you do find yourself just another notch on the fax machine, don't assume that you have to find another job.

"If working together remains difficult or you feel you are being overlooked or treated unfairly because of your past relationship, consider taking the matter to your superiors. People don't usually like to mention this kind of thing but it becomes the responsibility of the manager when someone's social life impinges on their work," Ms Rowan concludes.

But if, like Judith, you still want to leave, take note of her parting shot - "he was expecting a friendly goodbye, but I just kicked him in the shin. Really hard".

Sophie Rowan can be contacted at Career Psychology on 0171-976 1010.

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