Below Deck Mediterranean‘s chief stew Hannah Ferrier did not mince words when she said: “Dating on yachts normally ends Titanic-style.” But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sinking ship — couldn’t it also end up being a love story for the ages?
ICYMI (but we’re not sure how you could), Hannah and Conrad’s fledgling relationship has been the most public on the boat, with mid-shift flirting, giggling and touching during work hours (much to Captain Sandy‘s chagrin), and a very public post-charter makeout in front of their coworkers.
Love is in the air for other crew members, too, from Brooke Laughton professing her crush on Adam Glick and crying over romantic quotes for a Great Gatsby-themed party to João Franco(possibly) stringing along two coworkers.
While the obstacles onboard may be a bit more extreme than in your typical office, the same truths apply whether you’re navigating love at sea or on dry land. We consulted bestselling author and New York City-based relationship expert Susan Winter about common issues experienced when dating in the workplace, and got some advice that even someone who has locked eyes with a coworker over the copy machine can use.
You may be not be living in close quarters with all of your coworkers and clients while being tossed about in the ocean, but here’s what to do when you’re stuck aboard a literal, or metaphorical, Love Boat:
No PDA in the “office.”
According to Winter, public office — or boat — kisses have crossed over into the “donts” section of traditional workplace dating etiquette. Winter warns that prudence and restraint is key when entering into a dalliance with a coworker, especially when it comes to PDA.
“Following workplace protocol is important, especially when you’re in a relationship with a coworker. Here’s where you need to consciously monitor your PDA to ensure that everyone else feels comfortable around you. Too much overt affection towards your partner erodes your professional demeanor. It makes both of you look juvenile and ineffective. Remember that you’re professionals and all of your personal actions are seen by those around you. Being respectful of other coworkers extends to when you’re traveling together as well (even when that environment is far more casual).”
Shy away from TMI.
PDA isn’t the only three-letter abbreviation that can trip up new couples navigating the workplace, so can TMI. Winter explains that the less you say to everyone about the ups and down of your relationship, the better. People have a tendency to dig for the dirt and savor the juicy gossip. Don’t let your relationship be fodder for their boredom.
“Once we become romantic with a coworker, it’s tempting to share little tidbits of their life with our friends in the workspace. A slip of the tongue could reveal something personal about your lover that ends up working against you, and your romance. Keeping your partner’s private life ‘private,’ is vitally important in the workplace. Remember, you have access to information that’s intimate and only available to his or her inner circle. This makes you both special, and dangerous. You’re considered special to have such information, but dangerous because of this knowledge.”
Additionally, TMI can just plain make your coworkers uncomfortable. Winter adds, “Now that your coworkers know guarded details about your partner, what are they supposed to do with that information? Pretend they don’t know? Deny the fact that they do? Some personal information breaches the edge of the ethical concerns. Now your coworker has been put in a dilemma because you were not cautious.”
Be honest about your feelings, if asked.
What if you find yourself in a workplace love triangle like Brooke, João and Kasey? “Love triangles are a mess whether it’s in or out of the office, Winter says. “It means one person is undecided and putting another two people on hold while they make up their mind. This type of behavior is selfish, cruel, and creates unnecessary drama for everyone.”
While that may seem way harsh to João, he does seem to be putting both ladies on hold while deciding which coworker to fully pursue, creating a rather tempestuous atmosphere for everyone caught in their wake. Winter continues, “my advice is to stay away from the instigator of this type of drama. Dating games such as these are self-serving and have nothing to do with the potentiality of entering a true relationship.
Make it your mission to create time to be alone with each other.
Planning your time together away from your colleagues will offset the restrictions you’ve needed to place on your physical expression day in and day out at work. “A romantic trip, a weekend away, or even a stolen afternoon where you can be unbridled lovers again is what will keep your workplace relationship alive,” Winter advises.
There is hope for our amorous crew, people make workplace romances work all the time. Winter says to hammer out a game plan with your mate in advance. “You’ll both need to commit to discretion and privacy. You’ll also need to check in with each other before making any unilateral decisions. These precautions will smooth the waters with your coworkers, making your romance easier.”