Career Advice, Watercooler

How to Recover From a Failed Office Romance

Girl crying in bed

The go-to coping strategy for a breakup is often “out of sight, out of mind” — but when you and your ex work at the same office, that’s not always an option. Seeing your former partner at the coffee machine every day can reopen the wounds, and at times, it might seem like you’ll never be able to get over him or her.

But plenty of people have gone through this awkward phase before (and you can bet that plenty more will to come). As the saying goes, time heals all — though there are always a few things you can do to speed up the process.

1. Take Some ‘You’ Time

Treat Yo Self day didn’t become a cultural phenomenon for no reason — self-care is real and necessary. If the thought of heading into the office fills you with dread in the days following your split, taking some personal or vacation days is completely reasonable.

“Making the time to take care of yourself is important,” says Erica Perkins, Director/Human Resources Business Partner at Glassdoor.  

Whether you want to use that time to seek refuge in a tropical getaway, attend a counseling session or just eat ice cream and watch sappy movies, time spent away from your ex and the pressures of your daily life can help you recharge and recover for when you head back to work. Don’t expect to completely get over it in just a few days, but taking some time off when you’re feeling at your lowest can help you get through the worst of it.

2. Communicate With Your Team

Don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence. When a breakup is interfering with your professional life, your manager, coworkers and HR can be life-savers.  

“If an employee is impacted to the point where they feel like they’re not performing at work it’s important that they communicate that,” Perkins says. “During highly emotional breakups, separations and divorces, it’s not unusual to need additional support from your managers and peers in terms of compassion and understanding.”

You don’t need to dive into the details, or even mention that the person you broke up with is a co-worker if you’re not comfortable sharing, but explaining what you’re going through and what your challenges are can help you and your team figure out a way to most effectively minimize the impact at work. After all, when you’re having personal problems, the last thing you want to add to your plate is job-related stress.

3. Think Twice Before You Quit

If you’re having a particularly hard time dealing with your relationship ending, quitting your job might seem like the most logical (and easiest) way out. But unless you’re one of the few people lucky enough to not need to worry about finances, you’ll likely need to search for a job soon after — which is emotionally draining enough even when you’re not recovering from a broken heart.

That’s not to say that you absolutely shouldn’t leave your current position, but it needs to be one among many other factors you consider before making that big of a leap.

“If you can come to terms with the breakup and can interact with your ex in a professional setting when it’s required, it’s possible for everyone to move on,” Perkins says. “But it’s important to be honest with yourself. If being around your former love interest will bother you to the point of unhappiness or distraction, or if it continues to make you feel worse, a career change might ultimately be a positive move.”

It’s critical, though, to not just snap up the first offer you receive out of desperation.

“Make sure you’re moving onto a good opportunity — not just running away,” Perkins says. “It can be hard, but the silver lining about breaking up is that it often helps people contemplate and establish their priorities.”

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