Forming a relationship with a coworker is the ultimate mix of business and pleasure.
Sometimes, the recipe results in a toxic mess (and even job loss). But other times, things work out. Your deskmate might just turn out to be your soulmate.
Business Insider recently asked readers to share their tales of success (and woe) about their office romances.
You responded with everything from disastrous affairs to heartwarming love stories.
These answers are real people’s anecdotes gathered through a Google form. They’re for fun, not advice — if you’re looking for that, check out rules for dating your coworker.
Here are some of your responses, edited for clarity:
‘It wasn’t love at first sight’
“I came to New York in 2007 from DC for the amazing job opportunities and I’m not gonna lie — the attractive women. On the first day of work, I met my future wife. It wasn’t love at first sight. I was a stiff Republican with parted hair and pleated pants. But over the next couple months, we became really good friends.
“One night, while walking out of Russian Vodka Room (she’s Russian), it started to snow and she put her hand in my coat pocket to keep it warm. We started holding hands, and well, that was it! We ended up sneaking away at lunch everyday to hold hands under the table and occasional make out in the elevator.
“There was a time we forgot to push any buttons and it opened back up in the lobby a little too quicker than we thought. We have been married for over six years — and I no longer part my hair.” — Trey, 38, New York, public relations
‘The breakup was bad’
“I started an office romance with a direct colleague. We worked about six desks away from each other and it lasted about four to five months. The breakup was bad and it became increasingly frustrating to communicate with them about work issues.
“My ex would constantly mix business with pleasure. In my job, coworkers rely on each other for certain sets of data and information. Not receiving the information you need to effectively do your job because an ex is holding a grudge makes for a terrible work place environment.
“It is hard to disclose that information to your manager as well. In my case, it didn’t get to a point where that needed to be done, luckily. I would not recommend going forward with an office romance, especially if you work directly with them. ” — Anonymous, 23, Princeton, NJ, financial services
‘It was pretty funny trying to keep it under wraps’
“We met at a work picnic. Ended up dating and then getting married. It was pretty funny trying to keep it under wraps, but everyone found out anyway. Guys at the office actually congratulated my then-boyfriend when he changed his relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook.” — Sunita, 29, Dubuque, engineering
‘I had just ended a relationship’
“It started out at the beginning of our training for our hiring class. I had just ended a relationship post-college graduation and so had she, supposedly. We found ourselves talking about a random mutual friend at a happy hour a few weeks into training. She was the opposite of my ex and very (pseudo) intellectual. I was hooked.
“We worked on different floors and different teams, so it was not risky or a big deal. I think half of the company was hooking up with coworkers anyway. Her boss was seemingly a little more perceptive to people stopping by his team’s desks, so she was very against my swinging by when I felt like taking a stroll.
“What I later came to find out is that the mutual friend of her on again/off again boyfriend was the real concern. Unfortunately for me I didn’t find that out until about eight months in, when a slew of other issues and indiscretions also popped up.” — Anonymous, 32, Chicago, banking
‘All the gossip got to me, emotionally’
“I once fell head-over-heels with my coworker. He was much older than me and wanted a ‘friends with benefits’ kind of relationship. I was the naive one who thought he would change his mind and actually take me out on dates. We had our share of fights and disagreements, both at work and in private. The general manager knew about our relationship.
“There were also some gossip at work about the kind of relationship we had with each other, even though we tried to keep it professional. All the gossip got to me emotionally. I decided to leave the company without saying a goodbye to anyone at work.
“On my last day, I wrote a letter of resignation without a two week notice (which I now regret). I let the boss know that I was tired of working in a toxic environment, but I thanked him for the opportunity and experience I gained while working there. I never went back to get my last paycheck, even though I needed the funds to keep me going.” — Anonymous, 25, New York, retail
‘Marvellous until it wasn’t’
“The romance was very secret, almost utilitarian. We were both satisfying a need. It was a little strange, and marvellous until it wasn’t. I think we both knew it was a fling. When it fizzled out, I thought it ended nicely. We still had to work together, and I was cool with that, but from time to time she did random unprofessional stuff to me at work.
“Of course I probably wasn’t perfect, but she certainly stepped over the line. I respect her and wonder how and why that played out for her.” — Anonymous, 35, Auckland, NZ, IT
‘We still work for the same company’
“We were both married. She was working through a divorce. We worked together in the real estate industry. We were friends and completely innocent but things started pushing us closer together. At a party, something clicked (Fireball). We got out of there and just went primal. We did not talk the day after, as we were both trying to understand what had occurred. When we did talk again, we fell madly in love. We married a year later and are the happiest we’ve ever been. We still work for same company and were thankful we have every day together.” — Anonymous, 41, Honolulu, real estate
‘I chased her across the parking lot in a snowstorm’
“I was in a female coworker’s office when another woman walked in. They were carpooling, and I followed them out to the parking lot. The second woman gave me a cute little smile as they drove off.
“A week later, I chased her across the parking lot in a snowstorm to ask her out, and nearly got run over. We were engaged two months later and got married in six months. We’re still happily married after 25 years. The company had many couples and it wasn’t against policy, plus we worked in different groups. We were still pretty secretive about our marriage and hardly anybody knew about us.” — Anonymous, 62, Princeton, NJ, aerospace
‘He started trying to make me look bad’
“Back in the mid-eighties, I worked at a university. Kevin and I dated for a year and some. During that time, I helped him get a job at the university in a different department from me. We broke up. I moved into his department, not knowing we had issues. He started trying to make me look bad and tried to get me fired. It turned out he’d been loaning his computer accounts to some people at another school.
“He ended up getting fired. I turned him in when I found out, but they were already aware and investigating.” — Missy, 50, Los Angeles, computer operator
‘I feel like I won the lottery every day’
“I was working for a pharmaceutical company and was at a medical conference when I got talking to a lovely female colleague from a different division, about an hour before I had to leave for the airport. We stayed in touch by email, things got more flirtatious, and we got engaged a year later. That was in 2001. We’ve now been married for 14 years, with two kids and I feel like I won the lottery every day.
“OK, so that sounds pretty routine. But what made this particularly memorable was that I was based in the London, UK office (where I am originally from), while she was based in the NJ headquarters, and the conference we met at was in Frankfurt, Germany.” — Ben, 47, New York, pharmaceuticals
‘I asked her out the day after she came out to me’
“We were first year associates at a law firm in San Francisco in 1996. She was a tax lawyer, I was a litigator. She was also married to a man when we met, though they were in the process of getting divorced.
“It never occurred to me that she might be interested in women! I asked her out the day after she came out to me.
“We started dating within four months of meeting one another, finally got married two years ago (after the Obergefell decision legalised same-sex marriage). We will celebrate 20 years tomorrow.” — Ellen, 49, Chicago, legal (pharmaceutical)
‘There’s nothing like the smell of E. coli to get you in the mood’
“We met while working at a molecular biology laboratory. I was in technical support, he was an engineer. Talk about a romantic setting! There’s nothing like the smell of E. coli to get you in the mood. It started as friendship which evolved into him being my ‘work spouse.’ If you are unfamiliar with this concept, this is the term for the emotionally supportive yet platonic flirtation-ship that is created by eating lunch together every single day.
“We went on a few dates but we always seemed to be not completely available to one another. It is memorable because it had to be kept under wraps at work. The secretive nature was exciting!” — Amanda, 28, New York, laboratory
‘We did have one coworker try and get us fired’
“We actually worked together in a restaurant while we were in college. He was a cook/supervisor and I was one of the servers at the time. We did have one coworker try and get us fired. She claimed he would ‘favour’ me over the servers while I was working under him (this wasn’t true, if anything he was harder on me than anyone else)!
“But, three years later, we are happily married! I loved working with my SO. It made the day more enjoyable because I always had someone to speak to who understood my work-related drama.” — Casey, 25, Ames, IA, staffing
‘Sparks began to fly’
“My current boyfriend, who I live with, worked with me in the same department for two years before we started started dating. When I first joined the department, we quickly became friends. He was someone to vent to about workplace stress, laugh with between breaks, and have lunch with in the courtyard. I quickly developed feelings for him but repressed them because I was in a relationship.
“However, we exchanged a kiss at his apartment after carpooling home from work. I felt guilty and broke my friendship off with him, even though I had felt a spark. We continued to work in the same department for another year, avoiding eye contact in the hall and in meetings. Work became awkward whenever we were forced to behave like typical colleagues.
“After a year of avoiding each other, I ended things with the man I had been dating. I realised that what my coworker and I had was a special friendship that couldn’t be replaced. We began to talk again and sparks began to fly.
“We quickly became and item and took the next step by filling out HR forms. We have been together for a year and a half and are currently living together. Although I have moved to a different department, we still work at the same business. We get to drive to work together, eat lunch and spend our evenings with each other. We plan on getting engaged in six months.” — Olivia, 22, Richland, nuclear power
‘I knew he walked to Penn Station everyday’
“Almost five years ago, I sent an email to a guy at work who I had the biggest crush on. I knew he walked to Penn Station everyday, so I let him know I did to, and that I could use a walking buddy. Two months ago he asked me to marry him.” — Clare, 28, New York, advertising
‘We even had a little office group attend the wedding’
“My husband and I met in 2011 while working at the same non-profit. We started dating sometime after that. For months, we managed to keep it a secret from coworkers, who thought we were both single. The surprise when I came into work with an engagement ring was quadrupled when the office learned who had given it to me. Everyone was so supportive. We even had a little office group attend the wedding!” — Anonymous, 28, Texas, association
Together for 42 years
“My wife and I met as new hires at IBM Tampa in 1973. Our desks were together (in a quad of four desks). We were married in 1974 and have been married for 42 years.” — Jim and Kathee, 67 and 65, Plymouth, MN, computer sales
‘I got to watch him wear the $400 pea coat I’d purchased for him for Valentine’s Day’
“I started working for a medical based tech start up last year as a sales executive. There, I had a the pleasure of meeting a guy I’ll call ‘Voldemort.’ During my first month in my role, I was assigned to shadow him. I learned from his tactical strategy and eventually emulated his success. I was attracted to his vigour, impressed with his methods, and mesmerised by his handsome charm. Before, long we both gave into the mutual emotion.
“Things were pretty fantastic at work. I had a good reason to look absolutely fantastic for an inside sales position, and the secrecy of our ‘outside meetings’ only made my day-to-day that much more exciting. But, of course, suddenly a ‘friend of his’ was hired. Naturally, and after specific recommendation to upper management by Voldemort, she was assigned to shadow me for the duration of her sales training.
“We became friends. We ate lunch together. We spent weekends together, for godsakes. We made a killer sales team to boot. Oh yeah, the best part is that she was sleeping with Voldemort the entire time. Ew, why? Even better, right after that, Voldemort was assigned to sit right next to me. We were desk neighbours for several months, where I got to watch him wear the $400 pea coat I’d purchased for him for Valentine’s Day.
“I almost killed him. I almost killed her. But I did neither of those things. I simply waited for a specific opportunity to present itself, one where a particular jacket was hanging freely on a very desolate hook. Voldemort became aware of of his missing item … but I certainly returned it. And by that, I mean I gracefully disposed of it out of the window of a six story walk up in the heart of NYC.
“I thought it best to quit, like 10 minutes later.” — Elaine, 27, New York, tech sales
‘It became the worst kept secret’
“In my third year after starting my first job, I was given the task of teaching a new intern and showing her the ropes. We became close and began a romance. It became the worst kept secret. Eventually, my superiors moved her to another department, but we continued our relationships. That was in 2013 and we just got married in December 2016. We both felt that it was better to change companies.
“Now we are now finance managers in two different organisations. In Zambia, office relationships are frowned upon, so it was really a struggle for us to continue, but I guess that is what brought us closer in the end.” — Kaluba, 30, Lusaka, Zambia, mining
‘I found myself hoping it was a date’
“My first date with Austin was kind of an accident. Three of us coworkers were scheduled to attend a football game when one cancelled at the last minute. I had actually gone on a date that same morning with a different coworker and was very bummed that things didn’t seem to be progressing with that person (it was our fifth date and he didn’t even hug or kiss me goodbye).
“When I showed up to the football game that night with Austin, within the first five minutes, I found myself hoping it was a date. He was already more affectionate in the first five minutes of our non-date than my other coworker had been after five dates.
“That night, Austin told a random person at a bar that I was beautiful and that’s when I knew. He claims he knew when I showed up at the football game wearing a Binocular Flask. After that night, Austin and I were inseparable spending all of our time together and going on tons of dates. I never went on a date with the other coworker after that night, and told him I had started seeing someone else (I left out that it was another coworker).
“Austin and I kept things very secret at work because we both had the same boss, and worked very closely with each other, so we weren’t sure how people would react, and we wanted to avoid people constantly giving us a hard time. Slowly, we started telling our close friends from work that we saw outside of work. Some we told by choice, and others we told because they caught us outside of work or on the train together. One coworker we didn’t tell for a while, and she spent a few months hitting on Austin daily, which we both found very entertaining. After about eight months of dating, we decided to move from Chicago to Atlanta together, with Austin staying at our company, and me leaving the company. That was when we finally told everyone that we were dating!
“Some were shocked, others say they knew all along but were just waiting until we told them! Six months into living in Atlanta, I was recruited to come back to the company as well… so we were coworkers again, but this time both working from home at our shared apartment in Atlanta. Flash-forward another six months and we both moved back to Chicago with the same company. We were still dating, but this time it was quite out in the open. We have been together now for over three years, we bought a house together, and Austin proposed about three months ago. We are super excited to accidentally get each other’s emails all of the time, once we both have the same last name!” — Annie, 27, Chicago, sporting goods
‘It opened my eyes to a whole world I never knew existed’
“As a younger executive assistant in New York, I met an older French finance person from Paris. It was a whirlwind affair, with romance, passion, adventure, excitement, art, and culture. It opened my eyes up to a whole world I never knew existed. We didn’t get married but I loved him then and I love him now. I always will remember those times. He took me on the top two out of three dates I’ve had in a lifetime!” — Anonymous, 43, New York, entertainment finance
‘We decided to see if we liked each other sober as well’
“I got drunk at a work event a few years ago and kissed a coworker that I had a bit of a crush on. When we talked about it the next day, we decided to see if we liked each other sober as well! We hung out a few times and right away knew it was right. We’re getting married this year!” — Anonymous, 28, New York, advertising
‘That forced us to spend lots of time together’
“I was the executive assistant to the EVP and my boyfriend was a salesman for the same department. We started as friends (he was in a relationship at the time). Then, the team we worked for made it into the playoffs. That forced us to spend lots of time together. Soon, we fell in love. We are still together today and live together.” — Lauren , 28, New York, sports
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