Study: If You’re Dating Your Boss, Don’t Expect a Promotion


On a lot of levels, dating in the workplace makes a lot of sense. For one, those who have a full-time job often spend more time with those at the office than anyone else. Then, of course, there’s the convenience factor.

However, dating in the workplace can also bring with it some serious trappings. Primarily, the googly eyes being exchanged during meetings could annoy others focused on taking care of business. In the worst-case scenario, what if this co-worker you’re dating doesn’t wind up being ‘the one’ and a breakup becomes necessary? That won’t be comfortable for anyone.

That said, arguably the biggest problem can occur if you end up dating someone that’s better positioned in a company’s hierarchy than you are – at least that’s what research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests.

According to separate studies conducted by the University of New South Wales and Australian National University, it was discovered that any employee – male or female – engaged in a heterosexual relationship with a superior is less likely to be promoted than someone who steers clear of dating co-workers.

To reach this conclusion, both studies asked participants to select the ideal candidate for a professional position. For each candidate, participants were provided a CV, as well as a brief personal description of the individual. Also included was information related to whether or not the candidate was dating his or her boss.

Both studies also revealed that men who dated a female superior were even more discriminated against when it came to seeking a promotion.

“Men who date higher status women are negatively evaluated in a biased manner because such types of relationships are rare and violate traditional gender roles. Men are expected to be higher in status,” explains researcher Suzanna Chan-Serafin of the Australian National University. “This, in turn, activates the evaluators’ minds, and reminds them that these men are indeed of lower status in the organization.”

Whether or not you agree with Chan-Serafin’s assertion, it would be advisable to seriously consider the possible ramifications of dating someone in the work place. Sometimes – to keep life on the right track – it’s just better to make sure big things like romance and work in separate rooms, miles apart.

-Adam Grant

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