Why at-work relationships fall apart

Diego Cervo | Veer

We all know that the hospital is an intense place to work—especially when you are in involved in clinical care. It’s an environment where coworkers can form intense relationships–good and bad.  At the hospital we work as a  team and we even call each other family. True, we do care about each other and at times, even dislike each other. Heck, we work REALLY long shifts together where we save lives!

So, it is of no surprise to me that more intense—romantic—relationships can blossom. But is it a good idea to romance your coworker?

I’ve never had an “at work” love relationship. But I have had very deep friendships that have been challenged by working together. It’s hard to fulfill your end of the bargain in terms of friendship when you’re working the floor, so most of my friends and I have an agreement that we need time outside the hospital to keep up with each other.

And the romantic relationships I’ve witnessed among coworkers have the same problem: little time at work to keep things going, which ultimately breeds bigger issues.  Plus, romantic relationships have all those fun, intense emotions involved.

It’s those emotions that make people lose their heads: they try to make time at work for each other. Perhaps they have intimate moments that may interfere with patient care — they leave the unit to have a rendezvous. Or when they are apart, they spent loads of time texting and calling one another to keep up. It happens.

And then there is the awkwardness factor: it’s hard for a unit to deal with canoodling at the nurses station—honestly, is that the right place for constant PDA, cozy meals together, and long drawn out conversations about personal stuff? Can we be honest here and say that those things are distracting and uncomfortable to watch? And what are patients and their families supposed to think?

Add to those issues the gossip that these relationships seem to kindle, and you have a fire not easily put out. I try not to get involved in gossip, yet “talk” is a reality in such a close-knit workforce.

I haven’t seen many coworker romances actually work. I have seen marriages end, friendships end and people get fired—and this is after patient safety has been compromised while people were messing around in a call room somewhere. I’ve seen lawsuits come out of this romance stuff as well.

Look, we aren’t on TV. The reality of romance in the workplace is that it has its drama, and ultimately seems to be a bad idea. Yes, there are exceptions. But I say keep the floor free of all the lovey-dovey and let’s get to work.

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