Team IIBP Anveshan, Issue 32, Volume 4

As individuals start their professional careers, the workplace or office becomes an area where they begin to spend a lot of their time. Most individuals spend an average of about 8 to 9 hours of their day at their respective workplaces. During this period, their co-workers are the people they end up spending most of their time with. Although professional boundaries exist, it becomes a common habit to start sharing bits of personal information with your colleagues. In the course of professional relationships, there are instances where it becomes inevitable for individuals to develop romantic feelings towards their colleagues, which may eventually lead to a blossoming romance. What do they do then? Should they speak to the Human Resources personnel about it? Should they remain hush-hush about it? Or should they not pursue the relationship at all? It is completely valid for one to feel confused about this. To break this down and make it clearer, let us dive in to understand what entails ‘healthy romantic relationships’ at the workplace. 


Let’s first look into the two types of romantic relationships that could exist in the workplace: the first is supervisor-subordinate relationships where higher-order personnels are in engagement with lower-order personnels, for example, a manager and their relationship with a subordinate. This may lead to a conflict of interest between personal and professional lives if the relationship affects decision-making, promotion, raises, and the assignment of duties. It may also result in other employees feeling unfairly on the pretext of favoritism. If the relationship goes south, the subordinate may end up claiming they have been treated unfairly. The other type of relationship is the same-level relationship, where engagement occurs with staff members at the same level where neither party holds a position of higher authority. As one person does not control the other’s career advancement, there is a lesser probability of career-related conflicts arising. Nevertheless, there could be the infiltration of personal conflicts between the couples into their professional life, which could cause negative implications for their performance at work. 

One way of tackling these issues is by striving to maintain a healthy relationship. One of the most important things to have a check on is the policies regarding workplace romantic relationships and the rules of engagement set by the company. This may involve speaking to the concerned HR personnel regarding the same and clarifying all queries regarding policy and rules. This will help avoid legal implications, if any. Another important aspect is monitoring the conduct, the way the couple handles themselves at the workplace. They must be able to handle their relationship without interfering with their work responsibilities. This may include not engaging in public displays of affection, not allowing personal conflicts to spill into the workplace, or using romantic relationships for workplace advancements. The couple needs to be educated about professional conduct at the workplace. For this, they could approach HR or a company psychologist.


Establishing healthy boundaries in a romantic relationship becomes significant. The involved individuals should consciously strive to establish and communicate transparently. They must communicate about what is okay with them and what is not okay in physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual, material, and time-related contexts. Doing so will ensure a sense of safety and comfort between the individuals in the relationship and help avoid any personal conflicts related to the violation of boundaries. 


Another important concept for healthy relationships is communication. Communication is one of the most fundamental aspects of a successful and healthy relationship. The couple must channel efforts into building a positive communication pattern that involves communication in a productive manner, exchanging thoughts, ideas, emotions, knowledge, and information. The couple must try to avoid hostile communication such as shouting, abusive language, aggressive/passive communication, mockery, silent treatment, and any forms of violence. They need to employ ideas such as empathy, compassion, validation, gratitude, reassurance, assertiveness, words of affirmation, and active listening. This will ensure healthy and transparent communication between the couple. 


Conflicts and rough patches are common for healthy relationships, and couples having awareness of conflict-resolution strategies is an important part of maintaining and facilitating a healthy relationship. Anger is a very common and valid emotion that all individuals experience, therefore, regulating anger in relationships plays a vital role in conflict resolution. One common method to disengage during an intensive conflict is to call for a ‘time-Out’. Time-out is a period a couple takes apart from each other to not further unhealthy or non-productive conversations that fuel anger. During the time-out, each party must engage in activities that typically reduce the intensity of their anger, they then later reflect on the situation and how they could get their needs met healthily. The couple is expected to revisit the conflict after the time-out and find common ground they both are comfortable with. ‘Nothing swept under the rug’ the couple must communicate about issues however difficult it may be. A difficult conversation is better than no conversation. Choosing non-threatening and calm environments to communicate, and aim to discuss mutually beneficial outcomes is crucial. Sometimes revisiting the past, reflecting on questions such as what made the couple fall in love, relationships strengths, good memories together, and acts of love and care give a new perspective. Focusing on the positives can help create a conducive environment to resolve conflicts and help generate healthy solutions.


By discussing common goals and shared values, couples can find a great deal of happiness in their relationship. The goals can be both personal and professional. For example, a couple striving for a promotion could engage in mutually supportive behavior. A personal goal could be engaging in a shared hobby together. Shared values (such as financial success, family planning, or even spiritual inclinations) are an important discussion for couples to have, it gives the couple a long-term perspective and how they can work towards accommodating and building a life around these values.


Lastly, couples should feel free to approach couples therapy when required. Seeking professional help could allow the couple to deal with the relationship in a healthier manner, and give them a non-biased perspective. A couple’s therapist will strive to introduce healthy ways of maintaining and dealing with the relationship. Seeking help can aid the couple to maintain a balance between their personal and professional life. 


All in all, individuals cannot control who they fall in love with, whether it is in the workplace or otherwise. However, being mindful of these few pointers can aid in maintaining a healthy relationship, ensuring good mental health for both individuals in the relationship. A meaningful, personal relationship will reflect professional success; therefore, it is important for couples to consciously put effort into building healthy relationships! I would like to conclude with a quote by Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of The Gottman Institute and renowned for his research on relationships and marriages, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.”




Ph.D., J. S. (2021, November 9). Conflict Resolution in Relationships & Couples: 5 Strategies. PositivePsychology.Com.


Romantic Relationships in the Workplace. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2023, from


LCSW-C, E. K. (2021, November 24). 17 Communication Exercises for Couples Therapy. Talkspace.



About the author

Ms. Shruthi Ramesh is a Psychologist with a specialization in clinical psychology. She has

experience catering to a wide variety of mental health concerns and providing therapy to clients of all age groups. She works with a trauma-informed approach and strongly believes mental health plays a very important role in the balance of the overall health of any

individual. She employs a wide variety of therapeutic techniques from various therapeutic approaches, both directive and non-directive. She is a strong mental health advocist and encourages free discourse around it!