WATCH: Workplace romances and how Hollywood got it wrong
New Netflix movie Set It Up is not your average run-of-the-mill romcom. It has sass, and sometimes the jokes are well timed. Harper and Charlie are two overworked office assistants.
Life has been cruel to them, but their even crueller bosses are proving to be a pain in the proverbial ass. One of them comes up with a plan to set up their workaholic superiors, hoping a romance might evolve. Long story short, the two eventually discover they have feelings for each other. It’s a cute story that doesn’t always have that happy ending in real life.
Chances are you’ve been stealing tentative glances at your office crush, thinking “should I make my move”?
Blooming office romances have been the key component of many Hollywood movies. Throw in a jealous ex or overzealous best friend and you’ve got yourself a recipe for box office success.
What they don’t write into the script is how it ends. Because, let’s face it, most romances that don’t stay the course end in tears, rage or indifference.
But what is it about gazing across the room at a colleague with a single thought crossing your mind: “I think I fancy you?”
Relationship counsellor and author Gregory L Jantz sums it up perfectly when writing for Psychology Today on why professional relationships often turn romantic.
“Effort, intensity, time and togetherness create a potent combination, often vital to completing a given assignment. This sense of connection can, in turn, lead to intimacy,” he wrote.
“The more time people spend together, the more comfortable they may become with each other. The more comfortable people become, the more they share.
“The more they share, the more they begin to view themselves as a couple, partnered together.”
Why does Hollywood sell us a dream when it could all go pear-shaped?
Things can become somewhat uncomfortable or downright dirty. Have we learnt nothing about Glenn Close and Michael Douglas’s messy encounter in Fatal Attraction? What started as an innocent business meeting ended up in an extremely intense love affair. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned after a one-night-stand, hence the now-popular catch phrase “bunny boiler”.
Maybe script writers should be concentrating on office romances: Part 2. What happens after the honeymoon period is over?
Relationship coach and professional matchmaker Kas Naidoo tends to agree, mentioning that in her many years of experience, it’s very seldom that people remain friends after a break up.
But she did add that “if both people are mature enough to understand that there is a possibility of the relationship not working and they are both sure that they will be able to part ways without it adversely affecting their work, then I don’t see a problem”.
Mediator, divorce and relationship coach Stacey Lewis has similar advice: “In a normal relationship situation, you would be able to have a clean break after a break up and it may even be possible that you may never have to encounter an ex-partner again.
“In this situation, you would still have to relate to each other as colleagues. If it ended badly, this may temper the way you relate to each other as colleagues,” she said.