ask the readers: when workplace romance goes horribly wrong

In honor of Valentine’s Day next week, let’s talk about workplace romance!

To kick us off, here are some office romance stories that have been shared in past years.

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“I once worked at a bank in a department dealing with loans for high value assets (cars with six-figure price tags, yachts, roller coasters). Every Valentine’s there’d be a parade of fancy bouquets, chocolates, jewelry delivered to the office from ‘secret admirers’ that were usually suspected of being brokers buttering people up (the whole department was shut due to suspicious dealing not long after I left) but a few were genuinely from spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends. For three years, I got nothing because my spouse is an accountant and only bought flowers after Valentine’s when it’s cheaper, but on the fourth year he happened to be off work and had a great idea. Wild flowers. Not much grows in our country in February so I ended up being called to reception to collect a glass (not a vase) containing a bouquet of weeds. The receptionist (thinking it was hilarious) made me take them back to my desk. Once they warmed up to the temperature of the office, it quickly became evident that something had urinated on them :/ it took days to get rid of the smell in the open plan office. He’s stuck to store-bought gifts ever since.”

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My last boss had a ‘personal assistant’ who I’m pretty sure was his girlfriend. I actually liked her; she’d show up now and then at the office in fabulous pink leopard prints and do absolutely no work, but she had a great personality and seemed like a woman who didn’t take crap from anyone. I guess she got fed up with my control freak boss, because one day they got into a screaming argument in the office and my boss sent the rest of the admin staff home early. The next day his personal assistant had vanished, never to be seen again, and so had the office microwave.”

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“I sat on an interview panel once where I encountered a guy who, when answering a question about dealing with workplace conflict, went on a long, convoluted, extremely detailed story the upshot of which was: he’d started dating a colleague, it wasn’t going well, and he needed a new job so he could break up with her. He did not get the job.”

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“I had a former colleague who had been fighting with her husband, so he decided to go all out on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, I guess as a way to make up for it. He came walking in with this huge chocolate cake in his arms and a bunch of roses in his teeth. … He tripped over the area rug in the front of the office suite. We came running out at the crash to find him with his face firmly lodged in the cake and roses jammed up into his ears.”

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Let’s hear your own stories of workplace romance in the comments — embarrassing disasters welcomed, as well as genuinely sweet stories.

{ 946 comments… read them below }

    1. AG*

      I only opened the comment section to request a re-run of this story. I don’t care that it’s the opposite of “gone horribly wrong”

      1. Bananapants Circus With Dysfunctional Monkeys*

        Maybe Alison can use it at the end of the post as a palate cleanser!

    2. RC*

      Can we get another update on that?? Are they still together? Did they move in together? How’s the diaper bank doing? (Although, I hope it’s a good update, “it ended up not working out, and also created drama” would be such a bummer!)

  1. Sally*

    My former husband ordered 32 massive mylar helium balloons for my 32nd birthday. They took up the entire ceiling space of my office and filled the back seat of our car when he came to pick me up from work. It is still one of the most romantic gifts I’ve ever received.

    1. Sally*

      I mean, obviously nothing gone wrong there, but several years later, I would have sat down and howled with laughter if he’d been the guy wearing chocolate cake and roses.

  2. Marigold*

    The last thing I would ever want to do is shaming someone for falling some at work. I love love and love is love. **HOWEVER** – my coworker who I work closely with has dated 3 guys and she has been with the third for 1 year now. The first guy was creepy and the second was not good to her. The second guy is now her grand boss and she HAS to talk to him about big projects etc. It’s so awkward. I hope the current relationship works out but I find that as a good rule of thumb, it’s best to not crap where you eat.

      1. soontoberetired*

        Someone I work with is a serial cheater – she’s dated at least 20 guys at work, lived with a couple and married and divorced one. She wouldn’t leave someone alone who broke up with her and HR got invovled. She hasn’t learned and other people haven’t learned because she’s still dating people at work.

        I can’t believe she hasn’t been fired for the whole harrassment thing and other reasons.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I never quite got the full story, but at a previous job the guy liked the girl, the girl broke up with the guy/didn’t like the guy/something, the guy wouldn’t leave the girl alone, the girl got a protective order, and the guy somehow only got shifted to a different team in the same department. Girl got a new job and left, unsurprisingly.

        2. Tinkerbell*

          I worked with a woman who had been married nine times and engaged thirteen. She dressed like someone half her age but totally pulled it off! We worked with the public, and it was INSANE how many men would blatantly hit on her, often with their wives right there in the room. Honestly, I think we were all pulling for her to finally find the right husband – she was a lovely woman, but had appalling taste in men :-\

          1. Random Dice*

            NINE marriages.

            Blinks hard

            Ok now I need to share the utterly bonkers J.Lo autobiography love movie trailer. There is dancing in a steampunk factory, motorcycle crashes on a water stage, hilarious therapy, a sex addiction intervention, dissolving into rose petals, earnest dialogue, and extreme action flick music. It’s amazing.

    1. Sandi*

      It can work at a big company where someone can be avoided if things go badly and neither manages the other. I know of many work relationships and all of them are totally fine. The bigger problem in your case is that your coworker has a tendency to date people with questionable character, and the second one is her grandboss and is still managing her?! That breaks a big AAM rule.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Yeah grandboss is a huge no-no.

        I work in a niche industry, as does my husband and yes we met through coworkers, but we’ve never worked on the same project and I think maybe twice gone to the same larger meeting since we’ve been together. Its really common for people to marry others in our industry. Usually the people are in different departments/projects and don’t run into each other too much. But I worked in a department with a married couple and they sat in the same cube (since before they started dating, that’s where they met). I also knew a couple in the same department that were dating and she got promoted to lead and he had to take a transfer to another department. And I have been in meetings with people I know to be together who are also working together. Some industries just are like that. There was a company in our industry known for not hiring spouses of employees, and they stopped that rule several years ago because there are so many couples in the industry it was affecting their ability to hire.

        Also there are plenty of places that are basically modern-day company towns where the big company is one of the few/main employers in an area, and in those places its nearly impossible for both spouses to work if either the company or the couple doesn’t want to work for the same employer.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Don’t crap where you eat is a euphemism for keep your private and professional business separate. One of many English expressions that don’t directly tramsl.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I use “don’t shit in your kitchen” as the equivalent expression – don’t mix the personal “shit” with the professional “kitchen”.

          1. Midwest Manager*

            My favorite variant on this (as a female) is “don’t get your meat where you make your bread.” Or the more PG version, “don’t fish from the company pier.”

            1. Some People’s Children*

              Don’t dip your pen in the company ink (or inkwell).
              I learned that one watching others at a high school job. No, smarties, not because there were still inkwells but close!

              1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

                There were still inkwells and ‘dip and scratch’ pens when I went to primary school, and as I was a pedantic child I was entrusted with mixing the ink powder with water AND filling the inkwells!

                1. LHN*

                  I don’t think it ever occurred to me that ink for inkwells wasn’t delivered in liquid form.

                  We didn’t have inkwells, but I think mine was about the last elementary class to be taught to use (cartridge) fountain pens, and my middle school typing class was on manual typewriters with blank keys.

                  (Though a few years later I was able to lobby for a printer for my Atari 800, and convince my high school teachers to accept dot-matrix printouts.)

              2. The Bimmer Guy*

                “Don’t dip your pen in the company ink” is what I’ve mainly seen used toward married men who had sex with their—often younger—admin assistants or other subordinates who were women, with all the power imbalances you’d expect from such an arrangements.

              3. i did though*

                I like to combine “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” with “don’t shit where you eat” into to “don’t shit in the hand that feeds you”

                Phrasing developed as I did exactly that… oops. We both left that employer and are still together several years later.

    2. Good Enough For Government Work*

      In my last office, we had several long-term couples, several husbands-and-wives, and in one case also the wife’s best friend and their daughter (who just married the CEO’s Exec Assistant!). We also had two siblings and their brother-in-law.

      It all seemed to work fine – I was there for ten years and never saw any major drama, even when I knew two of the marrieds were having marital strife at home – but a) we were an informal office generally and b) it was scrupulously managed that nobody worked on the same team, let alone in the same management chain, as a loved one.

      1. Marigold*

        And this is how it should be done! The company placed her on a different team to make sure the ex was not directly managing her. But when the ex got promoted, they didn’t bother to change the structure so he would not be managing her manager. After 2 uniquely bad experiences, if I were her, I think I would download a dating app instead of going for round 3 lol.

      2. Ophelia*

        Yeah, my company has a sort of friendly running joke about all of the marriages it has spawned, but the reason that’s possible is because we’re really careful to avoid having people in the same reporting lines, etc. so the professional side is well-managed.

      3. Maglev to Crazytown*

        My spouse and I met at work, and even up to two years after we got married, people we both worked with routinely were still learning that we were together. We changed work places, and ended up back together in the workplace several years later, each having gotten roles in the same organization.

        For people who are mature, keeping it professional within the workplace isn’t the problem…. keeping the office out of the bedroom is the bigger problem, especially for people who thrive on problem solving.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I made a lot of exceptionally bad decisions regarding men in my early 20s including an affair with a married manager and an abusive tosser and honestly all you can do is hope she finds a stable relationship before something implodes horribly on her. And be ready with the tissues.

      But yeah, don’t date your management chain – up or down. It can go very very wrong.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Woof. I mean, I work with Husband–he literally sits next to me–but I had that job for years before he came on board, and neither of us report to each other. I can’t imagine dating my way around the phone center!

    5. Hannah Lee*

      I find that as a good rule of thumb, it’s best to not crap where you eat.

      In general that’s a good policy. I’ve dated co-workers before, but it was always peer level and never anyone in my management chain or same department.

      The only (possible) issue I ran into was when I ended a relationship with a guy who got assigned to be the project lead on a project I was working on. There was no big blow up, we just weren’t on the same page on some thing. At work we still got along fine, had no issues working together. In fact pretty much the whole team worked well together, coordinating efforts, trading off fieldwork/trips if someone had an issue come up. But odd things started happening, like I was taken off or schedule conflicted out of presentations, or project related trips for odd reasons, or when I needed presentation hand outs, or had ordered supplies, things tended to go awry (so I had to plan for things really early, and give myself time to check, recheck and do additional work to fix the random mishaps.) There was no real pattern, it was all within the realm of stuff that *could* go wrong. So I didn’t think it was anything but just random bad luck.

      But a few months later it became public knowledge with my ex boyfriend was having a relationship with the project’s admin/coordinator who managed team schedules, supplies, and was the right hand and gate-keeper for the VP overseeing the project/team . And I started to wonder if in her brain she saw me as a rival (or resented me on behalf of her now-bf, that I had ended things with him) so she was doing what she could to undermine me or get me off the team. (and if she’d ever bothered to ask me I would have told her “yay!, great! I hope you two are really happy” while in my mind thinking, yes please I SO am not interested in ever getting back together with him. No bad feelings – He’s a great guy, he’s just not the right guy … for me.)

      The project wrapped up, we all went on to other things, team lead and admin wound up getting married within a year. The fact that I never got a thank you for the wedding gift I gave them kind of reinforced my suspicions that at best she wasn’t a real work-friend and at worst she may have actively been an enemy (and yeah, ex BF could be a bit of a sexist dolt and she was a super on-top-of-it planner, organizer, manage the details kind of person, so any failure to note or acknowledge wedding gifts would have likely been a *her* thing, not a *him* thing.)

      1. Marigold*

        After going from the owner’s son and then to the manager, it’s probably a good thing that she’s now dating a peer in the same role.

      2. Bigger-the-hair…closer-to-god*

        Was the wedding invite a passive-aggressive way of hinting that she “won” the guy?

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ha, if so, the joke was on the admin when Hannah Lee graciously sent the couple a wedding gift! Passive-aggressiveness is so often derailed by genuine gestures of manners or goodwill.

    6. 22anddumb*

      My first proper job age 22. I fell madly in love at the interview with the interviewer (manager) who I then had a months long ‘relationship’ with inside and outside the workplace. Yeah, when I say inside I mean literally. Yuck. It was so obvious in our very small company. Turns out he had a long term partner. I was devastated when he finally made it clear he wasn’t interested in a relationship. Felt like an absolute idiot. My grandboss called me into the office and told me a version of ‘karma has a way of catching up with people’ which was vaguely comforting. Anyway, I left and moved to the other side of the world. He married his partner. As far as I know karma hadn’t hit him yet.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Well, apparently my sister’s boss fell out with his father who used to work for the company, so the father walked in the following day and walked out with a computer. Perhaps she did something similar with the microwave.

          1. The OG Sleepless*

            Heh. I’m picturing an older dude just marching in, unplugging the computer, and marching out.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              I only got the story second-hand but it sounded like it was pretty much like that. I think her boss was in his 50s or so, so his father must have been at least in his 70s.

      1. Jaydee*

        I 100% imagined the PA/girlfriend saying “Fine! But I’m taking the microwave!” and storming out. In my mind she sounds just like Jennifer Coolidge.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m sketching out a story in which it was actually a third party taking advantage of the chaos to score a microwave.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I really, really want this to be the case. “And while my boss was arguing with his personal assistant/girlfriend, I snuck out with the microwave.”

    2. Never the Twain*

      I love stories like that, where it’s gently coming to an expected end then the last few words blow open a whole other world of speculation.

      1. RT*

        That was my assumption too. like storming out, furiously grabbing it off the counter yanking the cord out “well I’m taking my F#@KING microwave back with me!!!”

        1. Mister_L*

          When my boss at my first job told me to leave or I would be let go (he needed the job for his partner), I also took my tower ventilator with me. Without it the office was a sauna in the summer.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            When I got canned from Exjob, I could have taken the toaster in our break room back (I bought it!) but I left it.
            I did, however, make them wait while I packed up all my stuff. They were going to send it to me but I was like, nope, you can stand here while I empty out my cabinet and drawers. A bit petty perhaps, lol.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        My one ex-bf had a very heated, contentious breakup with the woman he’d dated before me. He told me that she’d driven the 1+ hour from her city to his town, parked on the curb in front of his house, threw all his belongings that he’d kept at her house over his front lawn, and left… but that the one thing that failed to appear on his lawn was his favorite down pillow, which she kept. Severance down pillow.

      1. Crocheted familiar*

        I know it’s not what you meant but I’m just imagining the microwave spontaneously growing wings and making a break for it out of the window. Freedom! Freedom for microwaves!

        1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

          The breakup argument was generating so much secondhand embarrassment, even the microwave noped out.

    3. Emily of New Moon*

      That story reminds me of the time when Stephen Colbert stole Bill O’Reilly’s microwave from his office, and later auctioned it off!

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I thought any of the options listed was likely. But I also thought something (like a gift from happier days) might have been put in the microwave as a revenge nuking that the microwave did not survive.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Or the other direction. Maybe he hadn’t bothered to reimburse her for a microwave SHE had bought for HIS office.

    1. Pam Adams*

      My office microwave demands a celebration every year, but we can’t do it- they were clearly bought on February 29th.

          1. Deejay*

            My boss fired my office microwave because its circuit boards weren’t compatible with the implants his brother needs.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      “My coworker brought sex workers back to the hotel on a business trip and so did the office microwave.”

    3. Emily Byrd Starr*

      My coworker wants us to call her boyfriend “master” and to call the office microwave “micromaster.”

    4. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Or adding “and then came to dragons” to all the famous first lines of books and movies.

  3. Alianne*

    Not my story, but back in my library days when I was a page (general reshelving/fetching/desk duty), two more pages were hired at the same time, both mid-twenties. I noticed the two of them sneaking glances at each other. My supervisor apparently noticed as well. Suddenly, the two of them were always working the desk together. Or sent off into the stacks to pull holds together. One afternoon when there was a little street fair going on a few blocks from the library, she suggested they go take their lunch early and get a funnel cake while they were at it.

    They were engaged within six months and married a year later. That supervisor passed away unexpectedly last year, and my friends have both said that they would never have gotten the courage to speak to each other if she hadn’t gently but firmly pushed them together.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s so nice to read one of these in which the person encouraging the connection actually is correctly tuned into the vibes, and those vibes are mutual.

      1. Sandi*

        That’s key. It was very gently done so the pair could have stayed platonic friends and that would have been completely fine.

      1. MEH Squared*

        You have brightenend my day with all your awarding of microwaves throughout this post!

        6/5 microwaves for you.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      I’ll throw my similar good-news story here, because I know it wasn’t the question: back in my early 20s, I went to a friend’s office happy hour with her, and afterward, I said to her, “Does A know that B is really super into her? Because he couldn’t stop looking at her with puppy-dog eyes all night!” Come to find out, they were secretly dating, but didn’t want everyone at work to know. They are still together, and their oldest kid is in college!

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      The research library where I worked several years ago had a person on the professional staff who’d been rather unlucky in dating. A few of us thought shed be a good match for a regular patron, a very nice guy who my husband knew from his work, so we considered that as a personal reference. Every time this man came in, I’d develop an issue at the front desk that needed immediate hands-on advice from Librarian. If Patron started to leave before Librarian arrived, a co-conspirator would literally drag him out of the elevator, acting all excited about a new acquisition Patron hadn’t seen yet and just HAD to. We finally arranged enough “accidental” meetings that led to conversations, then friendship, then dating. They were married in that library over 30 years ago, and they are still happily together.

    4. formerlibrarian*

      I used to supervise student employees at a college library. During the time I had the job (only 18 months) two couples ended up forming among my student workers. Both are married with kids now! Maybe there’s something about libraries?

      1. Brandy*

        Aww! My late husband worked at the college library. It’s where we started getting to know each other. Married 14 years <3

        You may be right!!

  4. Goose*

    Dated a coworker where we got too serious too fast. Broke up after less than a year. No one at work knew (at least, I hadn’t told anyone) so it was just internal awkwardness for a few months. Thankfully this was early 2020 so we all started working from home immediately afterwards and I never had to see them again? /s

  5. Very Anon For This*

    I used to work for a pretty toxic consulting organization that had a culture that was all kinds of boundary crossing. There were a lot of workplace shenanigans around drinking and hooking up, but one of the worst was a guy who left a long, rambling, drunken message on his boss’s voicemail thinking he was talking to his “stealth” office girlfriend. Everyone knew these two were having a drama-filled affair, but this ratcheted it up to the next level.

    1. Double Dutch*

      Ooooh I love this kind of work drama!! This is par for the course with consulting and tech.

      1. Very Anon For This*

        It wasn’t an open office, but the boss did forward the message back to the employee with a dry “I think this was intended for someone else” comment. We all found out about it when the employee (again drunkenly) shared his screw up.

  6. jef*

    My husband sent me flowers and chocolates to the office in 2022 to celebrate a new holiday he made up for us (long story). All day I got to explain to my coworkers what the flowers were for and hear him pronounced “the best”, which he is.

      1. jef*

        A few years ago, I had a major medical event happen that landed me in the hospital and has completely derailed my life. I had spent most of the next year trying to keep working full time with a lot of extra bs piled on by my employer. They contested me working fully remote (is a job that can be 100% remote); they gave me crap when I was slower than I had been; they hounded me about reports due monthly and when I explained I could reliably have them by the 10th of the month, they insisted it be the 5th, even when I said it wasn’t feasible. I felt stuck because of the health issues; I didn’t think I had the mental capacity to job hunt, much less start a new position. So my husband sees that I’m fried and dreading the anniversary of my hospital stay. And he makes the perfect gesture. A few weeks before my medical emergency, we had had a hot tub installed. So he declared that date Hot Tub Day and sent me flowers and chocolates so that I could have something positive to enjoy and celebrate instead of fixating on the awful anniversary. He is an awesome person and I still get moony about him even after almost 30 years together.

        1. Siege*

          I have a very similar story! Horrible medical event (fortunately no work drama; my workplace is mostly a drama bomb generally but they’ve really stepped up both times I’ve needed to take unexpected absences) that meant I wasn’t legally able to drive for a few months. When that date came, what do you know, my partner declared that he had to eat a donut THAT DAY or he would die, so we went out for donuts and I drove. Ever since then, we make a point of getting a donut on that day because if he doesn’t have a donut once a year he will die, it’s a terrible illness. Though last year, we were lied to by Google Maps and had to settle for the most amazing cookies I’ve ever had, because the bakery we found in the town we were traveling through didn’t have donuts. He’s still alive, so I’m not 100% convinced that he will die if he doesn’t have a donut annually. :)

        2. nonprofit llama groomer*

          My grinch heart just grew three sizes!

          My husband is fantastic, but yours is a super special man.

    1. Liz*

      My dad used to randomly come home with jewelry for my mom and declare that it was in honor of “the feast of Venus.” It was so cute!

  7. Lex Talionis*

    I was one of the first females to work in a distribution warehouse. One day I was at the copier and noticed a colleague trying to look down my blouse. I gave him a really hard time, he asked me out, we have been married 42 years.

        1. Yes And*

          My first thought on reading the story was, “Oh, 42 years ago, how Mad Men/’60s.” Then I read your comment, did the math, and now I feel old.

        2. Jake*

          Yep. My dad was a police officer and was training a woman that had been hired. He made an extremely lewd comment about what he could do with his tongue on their second shift together. She’s now been my step mother for 30ish years.

          If that happened where I work it would be an immediate firing.

    1. OMG It's 2024*

      I am 5′ tall and busty. Hubby is 6’1. Whenever we get ready to go out, he does the “look down” and will give me a heads up like, “anyone over 5’6 is going to see the girls” so I’m aware. I appreciate this since our POVs are a little different!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Dammit, I’m taller than my husband (6’1 to his 5’10) so this won’t work. Maybe if I can see his knackers? :p

        1. Princess Leia*

          If you’re 6’1, you don’t have to worry: no one is looking down your blouse lol!!! Very few people are tall enough to do that! ;-)

      2. Dr. BOM*

        Reminds me of a time my lady husband and I were out on a brunch date. She had just finished complaining about the lack of subtlety guys have when checking out her cleavage when a dude walked past and basically gawked at her, turning his head for maximum staring time. The timing could not have been more perfect.

      3. Random Dice*

        I often ask my husband before work if my outfit is ok. There’s a certain kind of enthusiastic YES! that tells me that I need to change. :D

  8. my "funny" valentine*

    I worked in the front office of a manufacturing company that had a loading dock for raw material deliverers/shipping our products. My bf at the time knew I thought Valentine’s Day was a stupid commercial holiday so as a joke he ordered me flowers with a sickening sweet message from “your secret admirer”. Except they were delivered to the loading dock and I didn’t use my unusual nickname at work (think my name is Theresa and I go by ZaZa socially) so the entire warehouse was in arms about who ZaZa was and why their flowers were at the loading dock. I was eventually identified as the receiver and forced to walk down to the warehouse to retrieve a truly tacky bouquet and try to explain the “joke.”

      1. Feeling petty*

        I’m deliberately going through the comments now because your assessment via microwaves is hilarious. Feels sad that I don’t have any good stories for assessment. LOL.

  9. Oh no*

    Not me, but at an office I used to work at:

    One staff member was dating staff from another department. She was separated, IIRC, but NOT divorced and their relationship was on the DL. Her separation was not widely known.

    Until they took a walk on the beach one Sunday morning and woke up on Monday to their pictures ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE LOCAL PAPER. The story was something about the beach, but the photo the reporter had snapped showed these two arm in arm on the beach, absolutely no way to misconstrue this as platonic.

    This was a small town and everyone recognized them. It was the seven day’s scandal for ages (even though, again, I think technically there was no cheating involved.)

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        I grew up in a small town, and I think this would rate at least 4/5 microwaves’ worth of Embarrassing!

    1. Gritsy Girl*

      Ooh, that was unethical on the photographer’/newspaper’s part. Not supposed to print likenesses or quotes without authorization from the person.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Not according to US law, at least. If you are in public you have no real expectation of privacy.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        That really depends on the situation… were they prominently featured as the main subject of the photo? Or did they just happen to be included a photo of a public place where there’s no expectation of privacy? Photographers aren’t expected to get authorizations from every person photographed in a street scene, for example.

      3. Dido*

        would be a pretty terrible and uncompetitive news outlet if they couldn’t publish any pictures or video without getting consent from everyone involved

      4. Frieda*

        My parents were pictured in in their local paper, unnamed, while walking down the street after a big storm – the picture was taken from behind and I happened to be reading about the storm in the online version of the paper and saw the photo and thought “Look at that, Mom and Dad!” and mentioned it the next time we spoke.

        My mother still talks about how remarkable it was that I recognized them. It cracks me up. It’s not like they had disguises on!

      5. Oh, yeah, me again*

        Three times we have found photos of my baby niece in print: a brochure/institutional report on her daycare (this one they MIGHT have asked permission, I don’t know); her dad carrying her as we shopped for Christmas trees (identifiable only by clothing); one year later, FULL page in a well-known popular magazine heading a section on the Christmas tree industry with her mother (both identifiable, from same outing). Free-lance photog, making some bucks. I say more power to ’em! If you’re in public, you ARE public.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          This includes clothing-optional beaches, as I found out, surprised to be featured from the rear in a Certain Type of Magazine (I finally persuaded my husband not to clip and frame the picture).

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Wow, a RL example of ‘don’t do anything you wouldn’t want in the papers’. Fate came down a bit harsh on them there.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        “don’t do anything you wouldn’t want in the papers”
        I want to highlight this. IT IS. That’s so remarkable. It happened in real life.
        5/5 microwaves for comment.
        4/5 microwaves, category Embarassing.

    3. Windsorite*

      How was it not cheating if she was dating someone? Even if a relationship is ending, you’re not divorced until you’re actually divorced.

      1. Dr. BOM*

        I suspect this was a case of “everything’s over but the paperwork”. Now, if the soon-to-be-ex-husband was still trying to reconcile, or the terms of their separation were “no dating”, then I’d agree that this was cheating. Otherwise, it’s just awkward.

      2. Esmae*

        She and her spouse had agreed that it was over and they could both start seeing other people, they just hadn’t finalized the divorce yet? I feel like that’s pretty common.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly. Once two people have decided to stop being monogamous (particularly in the context of an ongoing separation and divorce), the relationship is over even if they haven’t finished the legal filings.

          It might fit the legal definition of adultery, but not the ethical one.

          1. Cat*

            While in cases such as the above the relationship is effectively over, it is not true as a generalisation that two people not being monogamous means the relationship is over. Ethical non monogamy exists.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              You’re absolutely correct, I misspoke. Once two (or more) people have agreed to change their relationship (e.g. adding an additional sexual partner, living apart, ending the relationship), the new agreement takes precedence.

              The legal paperwork isn’t what makes cheating immoral, it’s the betrayal.

        2. Featherbee*

          Incredibly common, especially in states where you have to be legally separated for a year before you can finalize a divorce.

        3. Garblesnark*

          Yeah, it’s very normal for divorces to have a waiting period – sometimes as long as six months – when everything is complete except the last signature from the judge. A lot of folks date in that window. (I do consider suspicion when they get engaged in that window, though.)

          1. Ellen*

            It can happen. I met my husband while waiting for the divorce paperwork to be finalized. I was upfront immediately that legally I was married, but emotionally I was quite footloose.

            We got along like a house afire. So much so that he proposed, the day before I signed the final papers. That was 7 years ago, and definitely the best decision I ever made.

      3. Future*

        A relationship can be well over in all ways but legal, because legal stuff can take time or other resources that make it difficult. I certainly wasn’t cheating even though I hadn’t had my divorce court date yet when I met my current partner. Relationship with now ex-husband was well over. It seems bizarre to me that people would think of that as cheating.

        1. jojo*

          I got separated and filed for divorce in 2019 (and I was extremely clear with my then-spouse that reconciliation was not on the table and we were O-V-E-R in every way but the paperwork). It was supposed to be a relatively quick process, they said. No children or property to divide, it’ll take maybe six months, they said. Then there was a pandemic. It took almost THREE YEARS for the divorce to become final. I was living with my new partner for two of those years. If that’s cheating, then fine, I guess I’m a cheater.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t think of it necessarily as cheating, but when something as significant as a marriage ends, most people probably need to take some processing time even if they wanted out. Of course that depends on how soon they actually start dating — if it’s immediate, that’s kind of a red flag for me.

            And obviously court dates can get pushed out for an ungodly length of time.

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        Isn’t cheating really about breaking the relationship agreements, whatever those may be? So if they agreed, “it’s over; we can both date other people now,” then dating others wouldn’t be cheating.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A number of places will not issue a divorce decree unless the couple has been living separately for a specified period of time. In at least one place an AAM commenter lives, even an amicable uncontested divorce requires a year’s separation.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Some US states don’t allow divorce if a woman is pregnant(Missouri for sure, but there may be others). Plenty of laws can prevent a couple from finalizing a divorce even if there is a mutual desire to split up.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yep, it’s true. Also, if you have a baby while you’re married, or within 300 days of the divorce, the father is presumed to be your husband regardless of who he actually is.

              1. Zephy*

                If you have a baby within 300 days of a divorce, the presumptive father is the man you divorced, am I reading you right?

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          In Ireland until 2019, it was four of the previous five years. It’s now down to two of the previous three.

          1. Future*

            I’m in Ireland. Luckiky, that two years can be backdated now, provided both parties agree to it. That’s what me and ex-spouse did. Still took more than a year between what I’d consider the actual end of the relationship and the legal end. (Don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of that two years, though. The backdating only works if both parties agree, which makes it essentially a weapon that a vindictive or controlling spouse can use against another. And if you haven’t been married more than two years when you decide to divorce you still have to wait out the two years. Which happened to an acquaintance of mine. So unfair.)

      6. Ace in the Hole*

        When my mom left my dad, she made it *abundantly* clear that the relationship was over and would never resume. She completely separated from him, spoke to him only about legal or logistical necessities, moved to her own apartment, and moved forward with divorce paperwork as efficiently as possible.

        My dad was a controlling guy who did everything possible to delay legal proceedings. He managed to drag it out for several years before the marriage was legally over.

        I can’t imagine calling a relationship she had with someone else in those years “cheating,” given that she had already broken up with him in no uncertain terms.

      7. Abundant Shrimp*

        I’d be willing to give them a pass. Granted, I waited for mine to be final, but mine was the fastest in history (whole thing over and done in 4 months’ time). I’ve heard of divorces that drag out for years.

      8. BubbleTea*

        My relationship had been thoroughly over for two years before we were able to get divorced. It would absolutely not have been cheating if one of us had started seeing someone else (and for all I know, my ex might well have, we weren’t in touch any more).

        1. Betsy*

          A good friend is still married because she can’t afford to get divorced. Both people in the relationship have moved on and had other partners since the breakup. I think it’s been 4 or 5 years.

          1. Anonymous for this*

            My daughter and her husband have been “married” for nearly 17 years. They haven’t lived together for 15 years. In fact, they both went on other relationships and had a child with their new partners. So why didn’t they divorce? I think it was. mainly because he didn’t want to pay child support. If you’re still legally married you can’t sue for support.

            1. arachnophilia*

              My ex and I were – on paper – married for about… 15 years? But the last 10 of those we weren’t together. We went on to other relationships and lived our own lives, but because we stayed very good friends (we were great as friends – the marriage just didn’t work), and because neither of us had family locally, we wanted to be each other’s next of kin, be able to file taxes together, and generally look out for each other, we just never filed divorce paperwork. When they moved to another state, closer to family and complicating our taxes and such, we filed the paperwork. We’re still great friends and talk often, though. So a dragged-out divorce isn’t necessarily a bad thing – though I recognize that our situation is incredibly unusual (something that our divorce attorneys commented on – they’d never seen two people so agreeable).

          2. Aitch Arr*

            Yeah, getting divorced, even ‘amicably’ and with a mediator instead of attorneys (note: you still need attorneys even with a mediator) takes time.

            In my case, it took nearly 4 years.

            Yes, I met my now-husband during those 4 years; my ex-husband met his long-time partner.

      9. Random Dice*

        The state where I got divorced was very clear that sex that happens after separation is not adultery. I actually appreciated them saying it so clearly, and imagined the many thousands of allegations that led to the clarification.

  10. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I worked at a place where this guy Chris* would date every new, young female employee. There was this cycle: female employee would start work -> Chris would ask her out -> she was gaga for him because he was good looking -> they’d date for a couple of months -> he’d dump her because he’s Chris and he’d be bored or a new female employee started -> former Chris flame was openly heartbroken and quit within a couple of weeks. Management NEVER said a thing to him, but I suppose there wasn’t much they could do? I dunno. AAM wasn’t around in those days.

    Then Natalie starts, and she really, REALLY likes Chris to the point she intends to keep him. Chris picks up on her possessiveness, but doesn’t say anything as he continues to date her. One day a new receptionist starts and about two weeks in, Natalie asks this receptionist, “Hey, what are you doing this weekend? I’m going out with my girlfriends.” New receptionist says, “I’m going on a date with Chris. He just asked me out, and he’s soooooooooooooo cute. What do you know about him?” Natalie and new receptionist get into a physical fight in the front lobby over Chris, and Chris stayed at his desk the whole time. I don’t know the HR result of that conflict.

    Moving forward, Natalie is horrible to any new, young female employee, and she parks her ass by Chris’ desk most of the day. The two of them get their work done, although I don’t know how because laptops weren’t a thing back then. Eventually, Chris and Natalie get married in the Caribbean, invite no one from the office, and send everyone their wedding registry after they got back.

    To this day, I have no idea what any of those women saw in Chris. Yeah he was good looking, but he wasn’t that smart or charming. He was very bare minimum in everything he did.

    Maybe I should write AAM to see what the response should have been from management.

    *Names not changed because he was horrible.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Those two deserve each other. They knew what the other one was like, still chose marriage.

        1. Snarkus Aur noelius*

          And the effort Natalie put herself through to “keep” him! I just remembered that every time there was a new receptionist and Chris went out front for whatever reason, Natalie would be out there too in under a minute. I don’t know how she knew when Chris would go to reception, but she did and she would hang all over him and tell everyone that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. “Dingo ate your baby” and all that.

          No one is worth that effort. He either wants you or he doesn’t.

            1. Snarkus Aurelius*

              Yeah that’s what I don’t know, but she stayed on until they both quit. There was another physical fight between two sisters-in-law a year later, but they didn’t get fired either.

              I’d like to think that’s a fireable offense!

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Ahhh, the “I can change him” canard. Satan was on a roll when he formed that notion.

    2. You want stories, I got stories*

      I work with a few people like Chris at my job right now. I don’t get it either.

      1. You want stories, I got stories*

        And to add, I keep thinking of how to phrase this question to AAM, “should I guy warn the young ladies about the womanizers of the department.”

        1. 1-800-BrownCow*

          I worked with a Chris Wannabe (named Bill, I’m not protecting him either, that’s his actual name), who happened to be engaged at the time. Thing was, he was not that good-looking and not charming in the least, so instead, he creeped out all the new, young female employees. His method would be to send them an email saying hi and welcome to the company. Then his next sentence was inviting them over to his apartment Friday night to drink alcohol and maybe watch a movie or “some other fun activity” (did not say what, but umm….). He sent one of those emails to a new intern once and her manager, a friend of mine, forwards it to me and asked if the Bill that sent her intern the email was that guy in my department. I went to talk to my friend and told her yes and also that he was engaged (his fiancé was still in college, 200+ miles away). Shortly after was when we found out he’d sent similar emails to other new, young female employees. No one ever took him up on his offer and sadly, employees at that company would only get slaps on the wrist for any complaint made to HR. He worked there for 3 years before finally getting fired for other reasons, mainly for screwing up ever single task assigned to him. And yes, he and his fiancé are now married and last I heard they’re still together and have a daughter.

        2. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Here’s what I would have asked AAM, basing it on what I know now and how much I’ve grown since then.

          “I need to be able to hire the most qualified person without turning the office into Melrose Place. The job and pay typically attract young people, specifically women, and I won’t change them because those two details aren’t why we have poor retention. There’s no HR policy in place about dating in the workplace so can I go to leadership, tell them Chris’ behavior is costing us money even though he can date whoever he wants, and ask them to put something in place that attempts to curb Chris’ actions? I’d also point out that during the physical altercation, Chris pointedly stayed in his office because he obviously didn’t want to deal with the fight his behavior caused, even though his behavior put the company in jeopardy. What else can I suggest to improve the situation?”

        3. Feeling petty*

          I am definitely NOT AAM and my advice is probably wrong, but as someone who was young, naive, and often clueless, I would have (and still would lol) appreciated if you did. I’m guessing that AAM would not agree because it’s not technically your business, but I still would appreciate it if someone did that for me.

        4. Abundant Shrimp*

          I worked with a few Chrises over the years. Word always got around somehow and we were all thankful for that. I say, anyone who helps that kind of word gets around is doing the Lord’s work.

        5. Garblesnark*

          I worked with a Chris named Chris and… yeah, maybe you should.

          I was too obtuse to know I was being hit on, was eventually declared his sister, and then he gave me a ride to and from his wedding to someone else because I didn’t have a car and he had no other ideas.

          Someone should have warned her, and me, and the woman he immediately cheated on his wife with, and several other people, I think.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      (Sidenote I love reading your comments in the archives)

      I’ve worked with a Chris although it ended a bit differently – our one managed to dodge seven accusations of harassment ‘because he is handsome and can get any woman he wants’ until the eighth provided video proof. Not only was he dating his way round the office he was also groping the older/fatter women in the lifts because he could legit get away with it.

      Revolting man, and he was eventually fired.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t think that’s a fair comparison – nowhere above did they say that Chris was harassing anyone. Sounds like he was just a serial dater, or perhaps a “Don Juan” which may be poor office behavior but isn’t criminal.

      2. Hermione Danger*

        Well. That would have earned a stomp on Chris’ instep, an elbow in his gut and a loud “That is inappropriate workplace behavior come to HR with me right now!” from me as the elevator doors slid open to be sure we had witnesses. This older female employee does not tolerate incursions on her person, and I am not afraid of making a scene when a scene is warranted, even at work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same. Plus I’ve made it a point to be friendly with the security people at my building. Heh heh.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Wow. Just…wow. That was a whole season’s worth of storyline from some “Suits” type show. Not like, the main one, but the B plot.

    5. MigraineMonth*

      Management absolutely has standing to tell an employee not to date coworkers if it is causing repeated issues for the business. They’re obligated to do so if there is a significant power differential in play (unclear from this story).

    6. Abundant Shrimp*

      How in the almighty heck did that chat between Natalie and receptionist not end with both of them confronting Chris and then BOTH of them dumping his sorry arse? Like, how good-looking was that man exactly?

      “Eventually, Chris and Natalie get married in the Caribbean, invite no one from the office, and send everyone their wedding registry after they got back.”

      HAHAHA OF COURSE they sent out the registry.

      Great story, I’ve been coming back to it all day. I’m fresh out of a mini-breakup (we tried, realized it six weeks later that it was not working for us… sadly he realized it before I did and surprised me with the news) and the way this story is written lifts up my spirits each time I reread it. I find new details each time I read it, too. “*Names not changed because he was horrible.” HAHAHAAA*SNORT*

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I asked that exact question after I was pulled in to cover reception for the rest of the afternoon. “Don’t get mad at each other! Go confront his ass! I would rather cover reception for THAT reason than the current one!”

  11. BathroomBlues*

    At an old workplace, our building was undergoing a lot of internal construction including renovating the bathrooms. As such, there was some temporary shuffling of bathroom assignments, and the men’s bathroom on my floor was temporarily converted into a women’s. When the women on the floor started using that bathroom, we saw that it was absolutely COVERED in graffiti, including a long tirade about a woman who worked on the floor who had recently broken up with a man who also worked on the floor. Said tirade was horrendously sexist, and included explicit details about their relationship. When I tried to bring up why this was upsetting to my (male) boss, he brushed it off as “I’ve never noticed it before” and “it was probably written by the construction workers”. The graffiti was written in giant bold sharpie, and there’s no way the construction workers would even know this woman’s name, but ok… Luckily we managed to bring this to a female higher-up who tore all the men in the department to shreds over it. (There was also other sexist graffiti besides this particular tirade too)

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      That’s so good. One of my favourite Old Boss was doing an inspection during his first week and noticed that the office supply cabinet was covered with pinups on the inside doors. He had them all removed on the spot.

      1. Mister_L*

        I once worked in a packaging warehouse where a small area walled off and used as a workshop.
        One day one of the ladies was told to remove her “aesthetic” callender with shirtless men (nothing you wouldn’t see in a commercial), because people from outside the company might walk by and see it (unlikely).
        Meanwhile the guys in the workshop were allowed to plaster every free surface with the most tasteless pin-ups of women imaginable.

  12. Fuzzfrogs*

    I’m a public librarian, so mostly we encounter ATTEMPTS at love from patrons. My personal favorite was the guy who followed me to my car to ask me out. He said he didn’t want to make me uncomfortable by asking me out while I was at work…

    The public library is a big hookup spot for teenagers. It doesn’t matter if it’s literally a one-room library in a small town. They will lay down behind the shelves in the kids area and do everything that you can do while still keeping your clothes on. And then you have to go over and talk to them while they pretend they were “just hanging out.”

    1. Local Garbage Committee*

      I feel like we could do a whole thread of public library patron advances! My favorite was a guy who started out by asking a question about books about STDs, which transitioned into asking if I had STDs and then would I like to date. (No. To both!)

      1. ReallyBadPerson*

        I’m a volunteer at a rural library that is staffed primarily by volunteers. One of my jobs is to call patrons whose accounts are expiring and ask them to update their info. A few years ago, I called a name on the list and got a guy who’d been banned for a year for harassing the previous director. Oh yes, I got an earful about her thin summer dresses, sexy mouth, and curly hair. The new director apologized profusely for accidentally including his name on the list.

      2. Random Dice*

        “My favorite was a guy who started out by asking a question about books about STDs, which transitioned into asking if I had STDs and then would I like to date.”

        Wait that’s not a good pickup line? Dammit. Let me jot a note.

    2. Jojo*

      I worked in a book store, and the number of guys that would hit on me while I was ringing up their gentleman’s (ha) magazines was disgusting. One even started asking me if I had looked through the pictures in that month’s publication. I Noped out of that transaction as fast as I could.

      Decades later and it’s still gross to think about.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “Have you read this month’s Computer Weekly, Emily? I bet you look like the centerfold.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I used to work at Borders and was in charge of the kid’s section, which was in the very back of the space, pretty much on its own. One of my more depressing and gross duties was regular searches for the porno mags that guys would sneak back there, take out of their plastic bags, “read,” and leave on the shelves for kids to find. Humans are the worst.

    3. Meow*

      I worked IT help desk at a library when I was fresh out of college. I didn’t usually have to interact with patrons, but if there was a computer problem the librarians couldn’t figure out, they ask us to help. One day one of the computer class teachers asked me to help a guy in his late 40s who was newly divorced and trying to transfer photos from his old phone to his new phone (ah the days before cloud syncing). It took a long time and he was friendly, but nothing seemed particularly unusual about our interaction. Then a couple days later he came back and needed help with something else. Then he was apparently asking the teacher if I could give him some one-on-one lessons on how to use his phone (And she didn’t seem to see anything weird about that?!?). The last straw was when I was walking through the library to fix something, and I ran into him. It could have just been coincidence but my creepiness sensors were going off.

      Fortunately, I talked to my manager, who talked to the teacher, who was absolutely horrified she had contributed in making me feel uncomfortable, she told the guy off, and that was the end of it. I almost feel a little bad – the way he acted, he really might have just been a lonely guy who was trying to shoot his shot… but also the dude was easily 20 years older than me, so really??

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        “I almost feel a little bad – the way he acted, he really might have just been a lonely guy who was trying to shoot his shot”
        No. Newly divorced 40 year old guy did not deserve multiple chances to shoot his shot by having a woman half his age provide private computer/phone lessons while she is at work and cannot walk away.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I once followed a man back to his dorm room to help him synch his iPod with his computer. Then I discovered that he didn’t actually have an iPod and got out of there fast.

        Men are not owed chances to hit on/date/have sex with us. They don’t earn them by being halfway decent. They aren’t granted them by divine right. If they want to learn how not to creep out women, there are many resources to learn how (including DO NOT approach her at her job and DO NOT isolate her).

      3. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Don’t ever feel bad about blocking a potential stalker. You absolutely did the right thing. If your ‘creepiness sensor’ was going off, LISTEN TO IT (which you did, BRAVO!) and never, ever, ever feel bad for doing so.

    4. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      My local library branch has a small park attached with lots of benches for patrons to use. But on the other side of the road is a high school. Before and after school the little park is filled with teens doing their teenage thing that they can’t do in the school hallways.

    5. desk platypus*

      I also work in a library and when I was in a public facing role it was an endless parade of would be Casanovas. The kind who’d always be like “guess who’s back” like I would be excited to see them again and ask for a smile. My favorite thing to do would be to pretend like I had never seen them before and ask if they knew how our services worked. It usually popped their bubble real quick.

    6. Still a librarian*

      So back in the dark ages when I was a public librarian I received: shoes (multiple pairs & correct size!), cookies, flowers, and a love letter written in heiroglyphs. Each of these was from a different male patron. I was only a public librarian for three years.

      1. Cabbagepants*

        now I’m imagining the hieroglyphics. was it just the sort of thing people would draw on the bathroom walls in middle school, or more elaborate?

        1. Still a librarian*

          They were carefully copied out of a book. I refused to translate so our security guard spent some time trying to decipher the letter.

      2. triss merigold*

        I confess I might be rather charmed by a hieroglyph love letter, but I wouldn’t want to get one at work.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Or over 2000 years old (and a time traveller). Actually, a library would be a pretty good place to land if you were a baffled tourist from the distant past.

          2. Meri*

            You remind me of when I was working at the jewelry counter in my early twenties and had a little boy demonstrate his prowess at long division as a form of flirting. Some things are charming when you’re under 10, and ridiculous over.

        1. Frog&Toad*

          Both my husband and I are Computer Science majors, back when hex was a required curriculum. I definitely received valentine’s chocolates with a love note written in hex! :)

      3. Esmae*

        I got a lengthy free-verse poem written in the pages of a devotional journal when I was an intern. Most of it is lost to time but I do remember being called “a graceful angel who robs men of their sleep.”

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Or feet, if he was also Shoe Man. I’m picturing someone under a really bad spell, perhaps a meek shoe salesman drinking a magic potion that was supposed to turn him into an Egyption God superhero, but all he got Hieroglyphs Geek.

        2. Formerly Ella Vader*

          I got a blank-verse poem from a co-worker, written out in nice calligraphy on parchment-style paper.

          I wasn’t sure if it was a generic piece or something he had written specifically for me, until I got to the line “her forthrightness wins respect”.

          Yep, that was about me. I guess he didn’t bear me any grudges for telling him what he was doing wrong at the job.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        I think I’m almost impressed with the last one–any ol’ stalker weirdo can do cookies and flowers, an enterprising one can guess a shoe size, but learning Demotic Egyptian is really quite a feat.

        1. Sunshine*

          Did he actually learn Egyptian though? Or did he just copy an existing passage in hieroglyphs? That the security guard eventually translated to:

          Hey Nefertari UR hot. Wanna hook up?

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            I used to have something that gave you the English letter/syllable equivalent of various heiroglyphs, so that you could use them basically as a cipher.

      5. MigraineMonth*

        I really don’t get the shoe thing. A man once announced to the entire public bus that if I were his woman, he’d buy me high heels. I said I didn’t want them. He said he’d buy them for me anyway.

        (The fact that he got in an argument with the bus driver about not being able to pay the fare made me doubt his ability to do so.)

    7. Non A Mouse*

      Yeah, I worked in a similar type of setting the summer after I graduated high school, when I was seventeen, and in my first week there a guy who was probably twice my age started hitting on me. Not really knowing how to handle it at that age I just tried to avoid him but as I was walking out at the end of the day one day he asked if I wanted to go get a drink with him. I was like “…no, I have to go get a ride home from my mom” (she worked nearby), hoping he’d get the message that I was too young for him. I was a little concerned because I had to work the desk alone the next day (everyone just happened to be off, my boss was in an office right nearby) and I wasn’t sure what I’d do if he showed up and tried to continue to ask me out. Fortunately he did not appear the next day, to my relief, in fact I didn’t see him there again for a while.
      I told one of my coworkers about it the next week when she was back and she just started regaling me with stories of clients asking her out so I chalked it down to Things Public Facing Female Workers Have To Deal With, and strengthened my resolve that I did not want to work in such a position as a career.

    8. Bunny Watson*

      I work in an academic library, and have come across some folks doing everything that they can do with their clothes OFF, so consider yourself lucky I guess?

      1. Academic anon*

        At a prior university library where I worked, the students put up paper on the windows of a conference room and…proceeded.

        No more conference room available to the students.

        At my present university library, a librarian went to jail for sex with an underage page. We called that office the love shack for the longest time.

        1. Syfy Geek*

          At a former college, the head of music walked into a practice room to see why the window in the door was covered to find 2 young people doing what young people will. The head’s main complaint wasn’t what the students were doing with each other, it was the fact they “defiled the piano”

      2. JustaTech*

        The winter break I worked circulation at another university’s graduate library I absolutely walked in on (walked up to?) some undergrads getting frisky. It was extra massively uncomfortable because 1) I was younger than them, and 2) I didn’t go to that school (I went to a school across the country with a different winter break schedule), so there was a tone of distain and “we don’t have to listen to you”.

        Like, I get it, undergrads don’t have a lot of privacy, but the library in the week before finals isn’t private!

      3. Retired Merchandiser*

        Once I was unloading a shelf for a reset, and reached way to the back of the shelf and put my hand on…a used condom. My coworker was cracking up at my disgust until I asked him if he’d would like to dispose of it for me and finish cleaning the shelf. For some reason he declined. I finished cleaning out the shelf then went to sterilize myself.

    9. Esmae*

      I had a patron tell HIS WIFE that he wanted to be with me instead of her. He did not tell me this. We did not have a relationship of any kind. Fortunately his wife was a smart lady and her first question to him was “Does she even know about this?”

    10. clementine*

      As a current librarian and former teenager who hooked up in the library… I am so sorry for all I’ve done.

  13. Menace to Sobriety*

    “The next day his personal assistant had vanished, never to be seen again, and so had the office microwave.”

    So many questions! Did she steal it? Did one of them throw it at the other during the argument? WHAT HAPPENED TO IT?

    1. Retail Dragon*

      Okay, glad it’s not just me who has been considering multiple possibilities for the last half hour!

    2. Nanc*

      I feel like the story of the disappearing microwave is a discarded verse from SHeDAISY’s Little Goodbyes!

        1. Betsy*

          I think the lyric was something about “loading up the TV in the back of my car. Have fun watching the VCR.”

    3. Lime green Pacer*

      Twist ending: The fight was over how long to microwave popcorn safely. Someone destroyed the microwave trying to prove that they were right.

    4. Or Did the Butler Do It?*

      But she was never seen again. I’m guessing Boss in the Breakroom with a Microwave in the office game of Clue.

      Possibly I read too many murder mysteries.

  14. Stuart Foote*

    This wasn’t exactly a workplace romance, but it did bleed into the workplace. I had a co-worker in a horribly abusive relationship. Like many such relationships things were okay between them at times, and then would deteriorate drastically. He had a picture of himself and his wife on his desk, but every other week or so the picture would be flipped down so she wasn’t visible and my co-worker’s face would be covered in deep scratches. The next week the picture would be back up.

    This continued for the better part of a year. At one point, the guy texted all his martial problems to another co-worker, who screenshotted them and sent them to a third co-worker. Eventually they got divorced and the guy quit his job to work as a volunteer serving the needy.

  15. periwinkle*

    I had an enthusiastically matchmaking co-worker who told me “I had a dream that you and Other Co-Worker were dating! Too bad it was a dream. But you know…”

    She told him the same thing.

    So anyway, Other Co-Worker and I been married for almost 23 years now.

    1. No Yelling on the Bus*

      Plot twist: matchmaking coworker is a time traveler who needed you two to get together, for reasons

      1. Miette*

        Plottier twist: matchmaking coworker is YOUR CHILD, time-traveling because you two needed to get together. Because Skynet.

    2. Expelliarmus*

      That’s so cute! But before this coworker told you about her dream, how did you feel about your now-husband (and vice versa)? Did you know each other well at that time?

    3. Waiting on the bus*

      On the flip side of this, a coworker once told me that I and a different coworker (Fergus) would make a great couple. I was caught wrong footed and ended up laughing at the very thought.

      Fergus and I got along great, but he was an absolute flirt and had some very strange opinions. Like, Fergus once lamented how unfair it was that our coworker Michael was male, because Michael was a great cook and would bring in leftovers to share, but Fergus thought it was weird to eat something homemade by another man.

      I would mock Fergus when he started with stuff like this, which he took with with good grace in return. Apparently that meant we complimented each other well and that I would “keep him real”.

      I don’t know if the coworker ever mentioned her couple theory to Fergus, but I think he was in earshot when she told me and I inadvertently shot that down by laughing at the idea. I think my thoughts on the matter were pretty clear after that.

  16. MrsDarling*

    My wife and I met at work when we were in our mid-twenties. We worked in the same office, but for different entities who were doing the same thing (think: working at the NFL office, one of us working for the Baltimore Ravens and the other working for the New York Jets). We’re complete opposites, which is probably why both of us found the other to be utterly fascinating — we’d genuinely never encountered someone like the other in our lives before. We slowly orbited closer to one another until one evening we ended up being the last two at a colleague happy hour. Charming conversation, endless laughter. Sparks flew, hearts were captured. We started dating and secretly dated for months, and finally went public with our relationship on the day of our proverbial Superbowl, which was when our contracts at the NFL ended. Turns out two head-over-heels in love women weren’t as clever or secretive as they thought they were. Everyone knew and had been lovingly pretending not to. We were so excited about our secret they just let us have it. Ten years later, we’re two head-over-heels in love suburban moms with a couple of kids, dogs, a cat and a minivan ;)

    1. I take tea*

      I just love the image of you trying to be sneaky totally in vain. That stage of a relationship is really, really hard to hide!

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Aw! Now I envision charming inter-office betting pools about various cute excuses or charming justifications for various coverups. How adorable!

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Sometimes I think I’m grouchy and jaded. But then sometimes I read stories like this with a tear in my eye.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      My Grinchy heart just grew three sizes! That everyone was “they’re so adorable! Remember, we don’t know about it!” just is the icing on the cupcakes!

  17. Smally*

    I’m married to my workplace romance! For context, I had known him from university and when an internship opening popped up at my workplace I recommended he apply. He ended up coming on board and I was his manager… he did a great job and my bosses recommended keeping him on, and I’m ashamed to say I argued against it, because I knew I was developing a crush (though I didn’t tell them that of course)! They hired him to a different team, and the crush developed into a relationship… we both ended up leaving and going to different jobs within about six months, and now we’re married!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Me too! We both worked at the aforementioned Borders and he asked me to a work group midnight showing of Office Space. It will always be “our movie.”

  18. Retail Dragon*

    I was 19 and in my first “real” job. I was seated next to an adorable but oddly quiet young man who, although polite, rarely spoke to anyone, and if I did speak to him he’d look at me like a deer in headlights. One day I realized I’d forgotten something and he politely offered to let me borrow one of his, which I accepted. He started talking more and more. I later found out that if we were both away from our desks, the hot topic of conversation was “why don’t they go on a date and get it over with already?” Truth was, I was still reeling from having been dumped very callously by my boyfriend and wasn’t looking for a relationship. But he and I did gradually get more comfortable with each other. One day I asked him about that deer-in-headlights look when I would speak to him back in my early weeks of employment. “I figured you thought I was some overly friendly weirdo.”

    “Oh, it wasn’t that,” he replied. “I thought you were really pretty and didn’t know what to say.”

    I’m still an overly friendly weirdo. He’s still very quiet. Next month is our 23rd wedding anniversary.

    1. KateM*

      Sounds like you’d be married to my husband’s brother if he had one. Our marriage just turned 23, too.

  19. Sara*

    I once went out with a guy from my large corporate office – we agreed since he left work 30 minutes before I did, we’d meet at his house and then go out to dinner. I went to his house – he was already too drunk to go out. We hung out and watched tv while he continued to drink, he took a phone call from his mom, his landlord and our CEO (who he was buddies with). I left after an hour(?) or so. He asked me out again and I turned him down. He promised we’d actually go out but I didn’t think it was good idea.

    He later was fired when he and another employee were caught submitting expense reports for their travel together. I don’t know the full details on what they did, but the rumor was they booked a hotel room and dinner together during legitimate work travel and then both submitted it for reimbursement. During an investigation into that, it was uncovered it had happened a few times before as well so they both were fired.

  20. ChurchOfDietCoke*

    Not seasonally relevant, but at OldOldJob everyone had always suspected that the Big Boss was dating (or at the very least, having horizontal relations with) his secretary who was several decades his junior.

    Our suspicions were ratified as CORRECT at the team Xmas party it was early December and he was retiring on December 31st, so I guess he’d ceased to give a fuck what anyone thought. She turned up dressed as a Sexy Santa (it was NOT a fancy dress theme) and proceeded to spend the majority of the meal sitting virtually in his lap and he kept feeding her from his plate. Just as we were all thinking how gross and inappropriate this was, the meal ended and the Xmas disco (shudder) began. And you know what – they danced together ALL NIGHT like the happiest couple alive, and snuggled up for the slow dance at the end. Clearly this was not a sordid affair, but a happy couple very much in love.

    1. Oh, yeah, me again*

      So – once it was all public, and he wasn’t working there anymore – did they get married?

    2. Random Dice*

      That is a rollercoaster of a story. My eyes are trying to make aww but my mouth is making an eww shape.

  21. corgimom*

    In my first job out of college I did admin work for an engineering firm. I became friendly with several of my co-workers during my first two years there and then one day something just clicked with one of them and it made be go “huh, ok”. 3 years later we were married.
    We definitely knew going in that it could go either way and when it was clear it was getting serious we made an agreement that if it didn’t work out one of us would find a new job. Thankfully it worked out! I did leave for a new job after we got married while he still works there. We’ve now been married for over 10 years and have two beautiful children together. It worked out well for us but I always tell people that I think we are an exception and not the rule!

  22. NYWeasel*

    A lonnnng time ago, the large retail store I worked at would host a formal Valentine’s Day dinner/dance. As luck would have it, I’d invited my boyfriend at the time bc hey, free food, but being in high school, I realized by the night of the event that there was no future for us as a couple bc he was too clingy. I felt guilty breaking up with him on Valentine’s though, so I went through with taking him to the event, but was miserably trying to pull away from him the whole night. I decided I would casually nudge him towards a coworker who seemed interested in him and hope they had a connection. As you can imagine, this confused him, so my plan to try and avoid breaking up with him that day failed miserably, but I was at least able to encourage him to pursue this other girl who seemed more into him.

    The kicker was a few days later, she’d begun a hard press bc she knew he was now single. He called me up and said “OMG, I’m so sorry—now I see how I was smothering you!” We didn’t get back together but it at least made me feel less guilty for how I’d handled the whole mess!

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      This sounds so much like my first boyfriend! He was also too clingy and there was another coworker who seemed VERY into him. I didn’t nudge them together (I caught mono and the weeks of not seeing each other helped him realize that he actually wasn’t that into me), I thought for sure they’d get together afterward. I was so confused when they didn’t. Maybe she just wanted someone who was already taken?

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      You know, a high school guy realizing pretty quickly that he’d been too clingy (or too anything, really), and apologizing with no ulterior motive is kinda high-end. Yay for good outcomes?

  23. Lauryn*

    My husband and I met while working at a national lab – our desks were right next to each other in the grad student/postdoc office space. I thought he was cute, and apparently the feeling was mutual. But we were both too shy to talk to each other at work! I was doing online dating at that point (OKCupid before it got weird), and one day he showed up as a match. A couple weeks later I finally got up the nerve to message him, and the rest is history! Normally we just tell people that we met at work, but I’m not sure we would ever have talked to each other if it weren’t for that initial online message.

      1. My mom says I'm a catch*

        Me, too. And is there a good non-weird site that doesn’t demand too many identifying details?

        1. Just for now*

          I don’t know which apps are good or bad. But, regardless of the app you use look into The Burn the Haystack Dating Method. It’s a way of finding your “needle in a haystack”. I am not on apps, but it did make me realize I need to set boundaries in certain areas. It also helped me better understand intent. BTW, I am a woman and this method is based on feminism. Maybe men can use it, too, but it is directed at women. I love it!

      2. FricketyFrack*

        It was bought by Match (who also owns Tinder, Hinge, PoF, and some other less well-known apps), so it’s been enshittified the same way they’ve done with all their apps. Instead of having fun things about data and being able to narrow down matches and things, you now have to pay for a membership to search in a meaningful way, and the app is pretty much exactly like the rest. You still *can* see people’s full profiles on the app, but it’s way harder, so most people are just swiping on the photos in my experience.

        1. Tammy 2*

          Boo! If anything happens to my spouse, I’ll be meeting my next life partner via Petfinder. That would be my choice under any circumstances but it sounds like it’s pretty awful out there.

          1. FricketyFrack*

            It really, really is. I permanently deleted my account a little over a year ago and have decided that if I ever date someone again, it’ll happen organically or not at all.

    1. Cimorene-turned-Morwen*

      This is hilarious, because this is basically how dating in Seattle works! You see somebody you might like ask out, so you frantically swipe through your dating app of choice to find them. If you don’t find them on the app, you never approach ;)

  24. Meemur*

    I used to work in the restaurant where the head chef was also the owner. He was a funny guy, but not what you’d call conventionally attractive, so when a new waitress started who clearly had a crush on him, it went to his head. The two of them would meet up outside of work to “play boardgames” but after a few months, they finally dropped the pretence and admitted they were dating. Everyone was delighted for them.

    This did not last long. While she was a grand waitress, she had a fiery temper. When she was being managed properly, this was kept under control but she was soon promoted to management herself and everything spiralled. Shifts were rearranged so she’d get the best hours, one of the best managers quit because they couldn’t deal with her attitude any more.

    In less than three months, she tanked the business. We had a lot of regular customers who refused to come back until she was gone, but Chef wouldn’t believe that this was the reason he was losing customers. She was lovely *to him* so how could she possibly be causing all this trouble? She was extremely paranoid and if customers where laughing amongst themselves, she’d assume they were laughing at her and yell at them. We lost so many customers this way. We went from being consistently in the top five on Trip Advisor for our area to not making the top 50. Still, despite the negative reviews, Chef would not accept her being at fault.

    I ended up quitting in a Facebook post that said, “What has two thumbs and no job?” with a selfie giving the thumbs up. Not my most professional moment but the restaurant’s reputation was already in tatters so it didn’t make any difference. The whole place closed for good three – four weeks later.

    Chef and waitress are still together and have two children so at least things worked out on that end.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I worked at a restaurant where the cook was dating 2 of the servers. One was single and one was married. The servers spent their smoke breaks insulting each other, then return to work all smiles and sweetness for the customers. Next smoke break, the same thing. At least they were “proffessional?”

    2. t-vex*

      Restaurant life is wild. When I was a server, the barback would steal tuna steaks from the walk-in and we would eat them together and giggle. Eventually we got hitched. It lasted 19 years.

      1. Bad Sous Chef, Bad*

        My friend’s husband of less than a year worked as a sous chef and left her for a waitress that was also married at the time. The new couple (friend’s soon-t0-be-ex-husband and newly-divorced waitress) both ended up fired from their place of work for their conduct (sex) at work once they were officially together. He also started posting inappropriate things on socials with the waitress before his divorce was announced so all of his soon-t0-be-ex-wife’s friends and family were seeing very intimate parts of his new relationship and partner.

        I get to tell this story because I served the divorce papers to the former chef, who hasn’t found steady work since this happened (2020). I guess word about sex in the kitchen gets around the industry. At least my friend got a little bit of karma after that mess and she got to take the high road and just observe.

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      How have you not told that Facebook post story in “most dramatic resignation” threads? I LOVE it. 5/5 microwaves, up there with spelling out “I QUIT” in fish.

  25. Keymaster of Gozer*

    (I swear this is true)

    Back in the early 2000s I worked for a small software firm that had a pair of identical twin sisters working there along with the husband of one of them.

    Somehow, the unmarried sister and this guy got into an affair. It went on for months until they were spotted passing love letters and sneaking off to the smoking room for a snog.

    The outcome was cataclysmic to say the least. Married twin filed for divorce, all three got told to take leave because the fighting in the office was getting very nasty and the guy took up house with his new love – the identical twin sister.

    I left the firm shortly after so I have no idea how it all worked out. Pretty sure xmas dinner was awkward in that family..

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I know! Some 20 or so years later I still wonder just what on earth was going on. Did he want a ‘twin sisters’ fantasy life or something? Not likely after the words his wife hurled at him in the office car park when she found out.

        (I learnt some new words that day)

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I mean, there’s having a “type” like liking redheads or something, and then whatever THIS ^^ is.

    2. 1-800-BrownCow*

      If the first wife twin sister has trust issues for the rest of her life, I don’t blame her!! Like, WTF??

    3. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      Wow! This is freaking wild. I know someone who slept with her sister’s husband and the fallout wasn’t pretty. But this takes the cake (sleeping with identical twin sister’s husband in the same workplace).

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Years back when I was still in HS, a guy (D) my older brother had recently graduated with, got married a young women he met after HS. Just over a year later, it came out that D’s hew wife was having an affair with D’s dad. D’s dad and D’s wife ran off together, although I don’t know if they stayed together or not.

      1. Retail Dragon*

        That’s what went through my mind, that maybe when it started he thought he was with his wife?

    4. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Very shortly after my grandmother died, my grandfather married her sister. Which was a creepy, “I’m a man, I don’t want to have disruption in my life, I want to be taken care of thing,” but at least my grandmother was out of the picture! And I am told the sisters did have fairly similar personalities. I wonder if the appeal of the twin was same look, different personality?

    5. Oh, yeah, me again*

      A whole new level to the “What does she have that I don’t have??” feeling of a betrayed spouse.

  26. H3llifIknow*

    Every year my husband would send these huge elaborate arrangements from a local florist to my office. Easily $200-300. They were massive to the point I had to use a cart and get help to get them to my desk and when I stood next to them they were taller than I was (on the desk of course). People would stop by and exclaim over them. When I stopped working there, I stopped getting them. I asked one year, “Hey why no more big floral arrangements?” His reply, “Now that you work from home, there’s nobody to show them off to anymore.” True Romance indeed!

    1. Ama*

      Booo. My husband was relieved when I started working from home full time — on more than one occasion he ordered flowers to be surprise delivered to me at the office only for me to wake up sick and not go in that morning.

      The worst was when we were still just dating and not living together so he didn’t find out I was sick until it was too late to call off the delivery — and it was the Friday of President’s Day weekend – thankfully a nice coworker at least put them in water for me so they weren’t fully dead when I got back to the office.

      He much prefers to have them delivered to the house now.

    2. Anoj*

      My husband used to send flowers to my office, but since we had no reception desk, they were delivered to a different department. I was embarrassed to go to the other department and walk back to mine with these large bouquets, I don’t like being the center of attention at all. I asked my husband not to do that anymore and asked instead he get me plants for our garden we can *both* enjoy! :)

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Oh he does ALL the gardening and he’s wonderful at it: veggies, herbs, roses, lilies. If he goes on business trip for a week, no matter what I do everything dies. I have a black thumb. We have ONE plant in our home, a Mother in Law Tongue, and everytime he comes home it’s drooping. Within hours it’s lively again. I swear it’s ME. When we were first married he was like “Should I be concerned you can’t keep a plant alive before we have kids?” Turns out the kids were easier! Maybe if plants could CRY when they need something…..

        1. BubbleTea*

          I absolutely will not take responsibility for any living thing that can’t tell me what it needs, or at the very least that it needs SOMETHING. No plants, no fish, no stick insects.

          1. Betsy*

            My dog barks at me, and I have to go through my mental list: does he have to go to the bathroom? want to go out on the porch? to the back yard? is he hungry? did I forget to give him his after-dinner dental chew? does he want to play? But at least I know it’s very likely to be at least ONE of those things.

        2. Juicebox Hero*

          I once completely neglected one of those things for about 3 months and it wasn’t even wilted. I bow to your superior plant-killer skills.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            “What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for [plants].”

            I have killed more than cactus.

        3. Retail Dragon*

          I have the same problem! My sister is an amazing gardener who has plants all over her home. I love plants and wish I could do the same, but literally every plant I’ve ever had died in my care. That includes an *air plant* which isn’t supposed to require any care at all! Black thumbs indeed!

    3. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      At my old job, my husband would send me beautiful 2 dozen long stem red rose arrangements on Valentine’s Day, so I could display them on my desk. My female coworkers would see them, come by and compliment my husband on how sweet he is. This happened every year.

      At my current job, we are on a hybrid schedule, so hubby no longer does this. He now has the Valentine’s Day roses delivered to our home.

      However, back to old job…one night, the lovin’ was pretty sweet and the next day at work (it wasn’t Valentine’s Day) I got a call from the reception desk that I had a delivery. The receptionist was a male officer who had a reputation for making irreverent and inappropriate comments at times. It was a law enforcement agency back in the early 2000’s and sometimes, the environment could be quite raucous and raunchy in terms of language (and behavior).

      Anyway, I went to the reception desk and the officer handed me the delivery of a vase with 2 dozen beautiful long stemmed red roses from hubby. And without missing a beat he said loudly, “Damn, that ass must have been good last night!” I was so taken aback – I started blushing and I had a look of embarrassment/probably horror on my face. Basically, my reaction confirmed what he said and then we both started laughing.

      After a moment, I turned around face still ablaze, walked back to my desk and nothing more was said after that!

    4. Tammy 2*

      My husband once tried to personally deliver flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but he didn’t tell me he was there so when the receptionist messaged me, I assumed they’d been dropped off by a delivery person and I could come pick them up at my leisure.

      He STILL didn’t tell me or ask the receptionist to tell me he was there until his parking meter ran out. I did manage to catch him before he drove away.

    5. Artemesia*

      I think most elaborate jewelry, fancy cars, and over the top flower gifts are more about marking territory and bragging about one’s wonderfulness than affection and love. This is classic.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        He buys me many lovely gifts, is very thoughtful and brings home much smaller more managebly house-sized bouquets now. Please don’t make assumptions. We’ve been together 40 years. No need to mark his territory. The stretch marks do that just fine! He just thought “I” would enjoy the spectacle. He’d also on occasion send a huge Edible Arrangement of fruit so I could share it. It was FAR more about him wanting ME to feel good than about anything else. Believe me.

  27. Esme_Weatherwax*

    I work in an organization where several married couples are employed, mostly in different departments, often with different last names. In other words, it’s not always easy to tell that someone is married to someone else if you are new.

    One of my coworkers did an all-organization presentation where she made reference to “the advantages of sleeping with your boss.” Roughly 2/3 of the people in the room did not recognize that she was talking about her work with her husband (who, yes, was also her boss, which was a separate issue.)

    We are a religious organization.

    1. Emily of New Moon*

      That’s hilarious and awesome, and the fact that it’s a religious organization makes it even funnier!

    2. fre*

      Not work related but makes me think of my parents – my dad does all the remodeling in their house (he was an architect but also carpenter, electrician, plumber…..) and so every once in a while someone will ask my mom who they hired to do whatever work/build whatever thing and if their rates were reasonable because they’re looking for someone to do that at their house. My mom’s response is usually something along the lines of “I got a guy but I just sleep with him”. Sometimes takes people a bit to figure it out if they don’t know how handy my dad is.

    3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      Not work related but reminds me of my parents. My dad is very handy (like could build a house from the ground up levels of handy) and does all remodeling/repairs in their house. Occasionally someone will ask my mom who they have work on their house because they need something done, and are their prices reasonable? Her response is along the lines of “I’ve got a guy but I just sleep with him”. Cue confusion from the people who don’t immediately know/remember how handy my dad is lol

    4. Academic anon*

      I was discussing a colleague in a review process and mentioned that she had the advantage of sleeping with her programmer. One of my coworkers goggled until I explained that they are married. In academia, once you publish under one name, you may not change your name upon marriage to not lose your publication history.

    5. Artemesia*

      The Senator Sherrod Brown is married to a journalist who once got a nasty letter about her lack of objectivity because she was seen having dinner with a Senator (her husband). It was unseemly for a journalist to fraternize with a politician. She wasn’t reporting on him.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Connie Schultz’s response to the conservative blogger who tried to ‘expose’ her relationship with Sherrod Brown by mentioning there were several photos of her with Sen. Brown, including one where they are hugging: “”Dear Mr. [Name Deleted]: I am surprised you did not find a photo of me kissing U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown so hard he passes out from lack of oxygen. He’s really cute. He’s also my husband. You know that, right?”

  28. MI Dawn*

    Not my story, but still one I look back and and smile.

    Many moons ago, when I was a sixth grader (so 11-12 years old for the non-US readers), in September, we got a new teacher for gym/physical education. Mr Handsome was VERY cute and young (22 or 23 at the time – his first job after college) and had all of the 6th grade girls swooning over him. So swooning, in fact, that our teachers lectured us about it! LOL.

    Halfway into the school year (January), one of the senior teachers retired, and the school hired a young substitute – she had graduated in December but hadn’t found a permanent job yet in the district. I’m sure all of us can see where this is going – Mr Handsome started dating Miss Substitute (who was a very nice looking woman but all of the 6th grade girls HATED her for “taking our man”.

    Mr Handsome and Miss Substitute did get married a few years later. By then, we were all high-school age and took the news much more philosophically.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      I really wish someone would’ve spoken to me/my similarly boycrazy peers at that age when we all developed a massive crush on our handsome young Bible teacher. Fewer kids in Christian schools would end up being groomed if teachers would actually educate them about consent and grooming, rather than sweep everything under the rug and teach abstinence-only garbage. (I turned out ok more due to luck than anything else, but my brother and I still talk about the mid-30s youth pastor who married our classmate straight out of high school.)

      1. Jezebella*

        Yeah, this still goes on. In my town, a priest absconded to Europe last year with a girl who had just graduated from the high school he was assigned to. They have returned married, and he is no longer a priest. But the commentariat in the local paper is now all “Oh leave them alone, they’re married now, it’s FINE.” And the sane people are like: “Grooming. THIS is what grooming looks like. Note that he is not a drag queen.”

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I follow a lawyer on TikTok who documents all the faith leaders (and other people who are responsible for vulnerable populations) that are arrested and/or convicted for SA of minors. She concludes every post with “that’s [x number+1] offenders and we’re still at zero for drag queens.”

    2. Nea*

      Handsome men who have to deal with 6th grade crushes are SAINTS! Every girl in my class, me included, burst into wild tears on the last day because we would no longer be in class with our Mr. Handsome.

  29. Anna Badger*

    I got hired to work in a brand new store which hadn’t opened yet, so we did our training in a nearby store. I worked on the counters, which meant that we stayed in one place and other people who moved around more stopped by to deliver news and gossip to us in short bursts. I will give you the story in the order the details were revealed to me over the course of maybe 90 minutes:

    – one of the guys who worked the shop floor had come in on his day off, punched one of the other guys who worked on the shop floor, and then walked out

    – there had been a party the night before that they were both at

    – the party had been at the house of the puncher

    – the puncher had had a bit too much to drink and passed out in his own bed

    – at some point post-passing out the puncher had woken up to find the punchee having sex with his (the puncher’s) girlfriend, with whom the puncher did not cohabitate, IN HIS BED. instead of letting them know he was awake, he just stayed quiet until they left.

    – the puncher had been fired.

    – the punchee had quit.

  30. Pickles*

    I have a happy story of how I met my husband at work! Don’t worry, we were never one another’s supervisor.

    Here’s the tale: We met as low totem-pole admins from different departments and did the classic “any excuse to walk to the other building where the other worked, oh hi you, just passing by casually” for a while. I had other Personal Stuff going on, so after we made out in his car one night (off work property!) I said I wanted to be friends. He was a gentleman and respected it.

    Fast forward a couple years. We’re both at the same company still but have climbed into higher roles. I’m moved to his department (as a peer). I can play it cool, I say. But when he’s showing me the ropes on boring accounting things, my brain is going “Hey, remember when he said [sexy stuff redacted for my dignity] when you made out in the car? Remember that?” Thank you, Brain, I did very much remember.

    Anyway, we ended up hooking up amid one of the biggest projects in company history, which we were leaders on. (I don’t recommend this for your stress levels.)

    We fought our feelings for a long while. We didn’t want to be coworkers who were just hooking up. If we were going to Do This, we wanted it to be Something Serious.

    Well, we succeeded! We got married in 2022. He recently left to take time off for professional training, but I swear there were still some people in the company who didn’t know we were married. We were VERY set on being ultra-professional. (And I, a woman, didn’t change my name.)

    1. No Yelling on the Bus*

      I’d just like to point out that your name is Pickles, and the commenter below you is named Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck.

      So I guess you’ve got some commitments coming up.

  31. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    A man and woman I used to work with, both married, started up a “secret” relationship with each other. Except the whole office knew they were sleeping together, and the whole office knew he convinced her he was in an open marriage.

    As I’m sure most of you have guessed, he was not in an open marriage, and everyone found out when his wife showed up at the office to angrily confront her husband’s girlfriend. Security was called to escort the wife and girlfriend out and neither of my coworkers showed up the next day or ever again. We did not know if they were fired or quit.

    1. No Yelling on the Bus*

      I’d just like to point out that your name is Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck, and the commenter above you is named Pickles .

      So I guess you’ve got a date.

      1. lioness_rampant_*

        As an avid Tamora Pierce fan, I was like…. what, Mona Lisa Saperstein is not a TP character??! Is TP writing things I don’t know about (instead of working on the Numair books no less!!)…Then I saw the username :D

    1. No Yelling on the Bus*

      Also effing LOL great point. And did she also start a fire in the bathroom?

      Can we be friends? I like you.

  32. Corrigan*

    My parents met at work. My mom thought my dad was good looking but didn’t talk to him. One day it was raining and he offered to share his umbrella and walk her to her car. They’ve been married 43 years.

      1. UnemployedInGreenland*

        I automatically had that song going in my head as soon as I read the word “umbrella”.

    1. MsM*

      My parents met at work, too. My maternal grandfather had a small advertising firm, Mom was working for him as a receptionist for the summer, and Dad was there to help shoot some commercials. He didn’t find out she was the boss’s daughter until after he’d asked her out.

    2. CzechMate*

      My parents also met at work (my dad owned a small electronics company and my mom worked for in a marketing/customer support role). When people ask my mom how she met her husband, she’ll bat her eyes and say, “Oh…he hired me.” My dad will pipe in, “Yeah, I just asked her, ‘What can you do and how cheap can you do it?'”

  33. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    I worked in an open cubicle office where everyone could hear everything that was going on. The Office Matchmaker decided that a single guy who was a genuinely nice person and I would make a great couple. In December she stood at one end of the office and shouted “Joe, why don’t you ask Jane to the Christmas party?” He turned red and walked down to my desk and asked me. I said yes. Later he approached me in private and said that he didn’t want to pressure me and that I could say no. I told him I’d go with him and we had a great time. We started dating and we were together for almost 10 years. It ended when I broke up with him because he always said he’d never get married. A few months later he contacted me and we met up. He said that he’d dated other women and none of them measured up to me. Then he asked me to marry him. But it was too late, I had moved on. My daughter (from my first marriage) tried to change my mind because this would have been her first chance to be a Maid of Honour. We stayed FB friends and he married someone else.

  34. Healthcare Manager*

    Work colleague sent a text message ending things with a guy in the morning, saying things were moving too intense and she wanted something more casual.

    That afternoon HUGE flowers arrived from him, having been sent the day before and too late for him to cancel.

    We all thought it was hilarious. She did not.

    1. ferrina*

      This is amazing. It certainly validates her decision to break up!
      Cuz nothing says “casual” like huge flowers! /s

  35. WeirdChemist*

    Back in grad school, I worked for a professor who’s wife was also a professor in the same department, and who’s lab was right next to ours. There were so many times when we were trying to coordinate something with her lab and would be told “Can someone get in contact with one of [wife’s] students so they can ask [wife] her opinion?” Dude, can you not just talk to your wife? Especially about work stuff during normal work hours as a colleague? Why are you making us all the go- between??

  36. Juicebox Hero*

    When I was in college, I did work study in the chemistry and biology labs. One Friday afternoon, the lab manager took me to the Physical Chemistry lab, which was kept locked because it was full of very expensive, very delicate equipment. It was also the last room in a quiet corner of the building. He was going to show me where the equipment was for something he wanted me to do on Monday.

    So he unlocks the door and we walk in to find one of the chemistry professors (50ish) making out with one of the continuing education students (40ish). He, she, the lab manager, and I had one of those moments where we all looked anywhere but at each other, then the lab manager blurted out something like “on second thought I’ll just show you Monday and we’ll go somewhere else that isn’t here right now BYE!” and we ran for it.

    Of course, I had classes with that professor and that student, but selective amnesia was my best friend.

    This happened about 30 years ago, I was a timid college junior, the mid-30s lab manager also developed selective amnesia, and that stuff tended to get laughed off or pushed aside at the time anyway. Please, no shoulda, coulda, woulda. Just embrace the awkward with me.

  37. Meg*

    I once had a friend in grad school (boy) and a friend at my retail job (girl) that I thought would hit it off with each other, so with their permission I set them up (in those days, I just gave them their numbers and let them figure it out, lol). The date went well, yay!

    Turns out no, after the great date, the boy was super duper clingy and texted her *constantly* and got in way too deep too fast. My friend had to call it off. I felt so bad for the girl, I only ever worked with the guy in a professional sense and he never gave off those weird vibes. I’ve since sworn off setting up friends.

  38. Rara Avis*

    I met my husband at work — got to know him when I volunteered to paint sets for his production of Brigadoon. Nothing more romantic than painting bricks on the Old Kirk. Our mutual friends say they knew we were meant to be together when we watched Jeopardy together at their house and were taking turns giving all the answers. Married 27 years.

  39. Abogado Avocado*

    A thousand years ago, when dirt was young, I was a new college graduate in her first job who started dating the young manager of another department. My boyfriend didn’t manage me, but for a year, we kept the relationship secret because we had tons of friends in the building where we worked and didn’t want things to be weird if our budding relationship failed.

    My boyfriend shared a house with a young manager in the same workplace who also began dating an employee (who he didn’t supervise) at my level. This employee and I were friends and frequently were assigned to carry out projects together, but the housemate and she also sought to keep their relationship secret. Only my boyfriend and his housemate knew who the other was dating — because they planned in advance when each could have sleepover guests.

    A year into our relationship, things got serious and all came out into the open. The boyfriend and I now have been married for decades. We haven’t worked together for about that same amount of time. The housemate and my friend’s relationship didn’t last, but they have remained good friends — as have we all. Life can be surprisingly good.

  40. lurkyloo*

    Awwww….I used to work in an office where there was a call centre that I interacted with regularly. There was a couple that worked there…they would bus in together in the morning, kiss and walk off to their respective desks for the day. At the end of the day, he would walk over to his wife’s desk and ask her ‘Are you going my way, pretty lady?’, she would giggle, collect her things and off they’d go to the bus. Every. Single. Day.

    1. Non A Mouse*

      That’s really cute.

      It does remind me though of two of my coworkers who were secretly dating and so had to go the opposite way. They would come in in the morning, go up in the elevator together and then go through different doors into the office so it would less noticeable that they were always arriving at the same time. I think this probably worked pretty well in general except that I was taking over for one of them (who was leaving the company) on a project they were working on together, so when I had questions that I needed one of them to answer it was pretty obvious to me that they would appear around the same time, every day.

  41. Corrigan*

    My husband has only given me flowers twice. On our first date, and one other time a few years ago. I don’t know what was the matter, but I was having a really hard time and suddenly these flowers showed up at work. It was very sweet.

    The next day someone asked me about them. “Is it your birthday?” I said no. They said “Anniversary?” Then I blurted out “No, I was just having a really shitty day!” I could have handled that better.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      If it’s any consolation, I’d think that someone who sent you flowers just because you were having a shitty day and wanted to cheer you up is super duper mega awesome.

    2. AAMLurker*

      Many years ago when I was working at a law firm, my husband announced on a Wednesday night that he was leaving me. I was understandably upset at work on Thursday and our wonderful, wonderful paralegal sent me flowers. My horror show of a boss (law firm partner) kept asking what the flowers were for until I broke down and said it was because I was getting a divorce. He proceeded to close my office door, sit down, and talk to me about how I shouldn’t lose my religion during this time. I was, and remain to this day, agnostic and had never discussed religion with him before. Still a top 10 terrible day!

    3. iglwif*

      I think “spouse is having a shitty day and I want to cheer them up” is the BEST and MOST ROMANTIC reason for sending flowers.

  42. Lunchtime Doubly So*

    I met my husband at an office where I was temping at their word processing center. His company had been bought out by a larger company, and he was systematically being stripped of all his responsibilities till they were ready to lay him off so he had A LOT of free time. He would come and hang out with the temps in the center and help us with technical problems, but more often just socialize with us since he was so bored. He and I decided to start dating about a month before he was finally laid off. When he left, the center supervisors realized that the one thing he had been doing on a daily basis that they hadn’t accounted for was keeping the very buggy software operational. After he was gone, no one had any idea how to fix things. Fortunately for me, for as long as I worked there, if I had any technical issues, I would just call him and he would tell me how to fix it since he was now on speed dial.

  43. Pretty as a Princess*

    I worked at a startup where the VC brought in their own management team. The new CEO came with his longtime (like 10+ years) executive assistant.

    This guy milked the company dry and then he and his cronies basically laid off all the people doing the actual work. We saw the writing on the wall and a bunch of us went out to lunch basically 3 hours before they laid us off. At that time, we learned from the CTO’s EA, that she had uncovered that the very married CEO and his very married EA were kitting off at lunch 3 days a week to the local Marriott for some private sexytime. The CTO’s EA found out because … they were either charging the company card for the hotel rooms, or had been submitting expenses for them & being reimbursed (it was nearly 25 years ago so I just don’t quite recall). She made copies of all the paperwork and was trying to figure out how/where to whistle-blow. So my boss who was also expecting to get laid off, suggested that she submit copies of all the records to the IRS and report them for tax fraud. He even gave her suggestions for how to word the letter.

    We all got laid off that afternoon and the CTO’s EA left with a nice manila envelope full of receipts for the company-paid trysts at the Marriott. I really, really hope she did send them to the IRS.

  44. Emily of New Moon*

    One day, a young woman was standing in line to use the copier machine at work. A young man, who also worked there, was in line behind her, and asked her if she could do his copying for him, since he felt that it was a job more fitting for a woman. She turned around to give him a piece of her mind, and saw that he had a huge smile on his face, and was obviously joking. She said, “Ha, ha, very funny,” and walked away after finishing her copying
    They saw each other around the building several times, and he finally asked her out for a drink.
    That man is my father, and the woman is my mother, and they’ve been married for almost 50 years now, with two children, three grandchildren, and a dog.

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      Awwwww! 4/5 microwaves, for taking a risk with humour. You never really know how a joke like that is going to land, especially at work.

  45. Anna Badger*

    WAIT I HAVE ANOTHER ONE, same store chain, now in the central offices.

    it is valentine’s day. the delivery office rings up to say that there is a bouquet for my new boss, who is new to being my boss but is not new to the company. she is mortified. we do not quite understand why. she flat out refuses to go collect it, so because I have to drop some stuff down there I agree to grab it for her.

    this bouquet is HUGE. like, it’s in an actual pot thing, and I have to carry it on my hip because I can’t see over it. she gets even more distressed when she sees it. we still don’t quite understand why.

    we found out later that she was dating someone in a different department. his desk was only a few desks away. he was not the person who sent the flowers.

    nobody had any evidence as to who did, but the prevailing theory was it was someone in her old team who was not directly her boss but who had power over her there, and who both fancied her and knew she was seeing her guy a few desks away. if it was him, I’m still angry with him.

  46. A Simple Narwhal*

    This is tangentially office related so I think it counts!

    About ten years ago my (now) husband had a company off-site at a ballgame, and towards the end he ran into two of his friends, both women. They hadn’t seen each other in a while and decided to go grab a drink and catch up. He said bye to his coworkers and they left. When he came into the office the next day, to his surprise and complete bewilderment he got a ton of high-fives and people telling him he was a major baller. Apparently no one realized those two women were his friends, and all his coworkers thought he picked up two random women at a ballgame and left for a threesome.

    He quickly set the record straight but it’s a hilarious story that has a sweet bonus: at the catch up drink they both asked if he’d be interested in being set up with their friend – me!

  47. Anonymous Demi ISFJ*

    Not exactly Valentine’s Day-related, but…
    My now-wife and I worked at the same (dysfunctional) retail organization for a while, pre-pandemic. We were the only couple allowed to work similar shifts together because, and I quote, we were the only couple the managers could trust to keep it professional. I found this out when I asked if they were sure about scheduling me for a keyholder training shift where my partner was scheduled to be training me.

    I’m sure this had nothing to do with the fact that we are a same-sex couple that grew up and started our relationship in a very conservative place in the very center of the continental US…

    1. Anonymous Demi ISFJ*

      Now that I’ve written the above I am reminded that one of the other workplace couples there had (been so mismatched in the first place and) broken up so bitterly that they could never be scheduled together because she couldn’t leave him alone about how mad she still was at him.

      Dear God, that place was full of bees.

  48. The OG Sleepless*

    I had a youngish, single male coworker who had an air of the nice, befuddled boy next door. Something about him made everybody want to fix him up. He just seemed like a guy who needed to meet a nice girl and settle down. He was good but platonic friends with a female coworker around the same age, and several people really liked the idea of them getting together. (Not me; I knew they had some fundamentally incompatible views on things.) She posted a photo of them together on Facebook, and almost everyone in our office went nuts congratulating them. She had to go back and set everybody straight.

    1. FricketyFrack*

      Ugh, I have a coworker who is about my age (though we’re both almost 40, so less young and cute, I’m sure) and everyone always wants to set me up with him. He’s a nice guy but we could not have more different interests and he’s not my type, and I’m positive the feeling is mutual. He’s been dating someone since last summer and it still happens. I really wish more people were like you and less the type to see two single people of roughly the same age and decide those people MUST be together.

        1. FricketyFrack*

          YUP! I’m also queer, so having everyone assume I have to be interested in men is frustrating. I’m not *not* interested in them, but definitely not exclusively or even primarily a lot of the time.

  49. Cilantra*

    I once had two bosses (“Jane” and “Tom”) who had a fling with each other shortly before they started both managing me. Jane not yet over Tom (she claimed their connection was so strong she could sense when he was within 1000 feet of her), which made for some awkward team meetings. Jane told me they were like my parents (um, no), and when I didn’t like the answer one of them gave me, I would go ask the other one. I was just trying to get sign off from both of them and didn’t have an opinion on whatever the decision was.

  50. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    Like a year and a half ago, My boss Barnie made my co-worker Fred and I sit in on a meeting with a sales rep trying to get our business. The poor sales rep was maybe a year out of college while the three of us are between 40 and 60 years of age.

    Fred and I were talking before the meeting officially started and I brought up something about my kids and going viral or something. The sales rep jumped on it. “I WENT VIRAL”

    Barnie said “what?”

    The sales rep went into this high energy, enthusiastic, 5 minute long convoluted story about proposing to his girlfriend and what he did and how someone recorded it and his now fiancée edited it and posted it to tik tok and it got an impressively large amount of views.

    Barnie, Fred and I are just sitting there – with 6 failed marriages between the 3 of us (granted 4 were Fred’s) – looking at this poor kid like a lamb being led to slaughter.

    There is this dramatic pause and Barnie says “well damn, you really set the bar high for your next proposal. ”

    I can honestly tell you I have no idea what happened next.

  51. Matchmaker?*

    At my previous position, I supervised two employees who moved to work at our museum. They soon figured out how high the cost of living was, and found and 2 bedroom apartment in the area to save on costs. They started hanging out a lot (hey roommates!). It wasn’t until one bought Hamilton tickets for the other that I started to suspect something more.

    Well, 5 years later they’re now married and still work in the industry! Both were wonderful employees and I’m happy they’ve been promoted and able to do a lot of good in the world.

  52. Bast*

    Very early in my working career I had a stint in retail and began dating a coworker we will call John. I feel it’s worth noting that I was in my late teens and he was in his early 20s, as it became needlessly dramatic in a way that I can’t even imagine happening in my 30s. We dated roughly 9 or 10 months, but in addition to us both being rather immature, there was a fundamental mismatch in our personalities that wasn’t conducive to it going any further. I ended it after a particularly bad alteraction where he backhanded me. It was the first –and last– time. Afterward, he tried to convince me that he didn’t mean it, that it wasn’t really a big deal because I wasn’t actually hurt, that he had friends who were “really hurt” by their boyfriends so this didn’t count, etc, etc. While we both continued to work in the same place, we did not work in the same department, so it was easy enough to not be around him. After we had been broken up a couple of months, I began dating someone else who ALSO worked at the same store that we’ll call Nick. John was hurt, and INCENSED and actually cornered Nick when he was stepping out of his car to go into work to ask what his “intentions” were with his girlfriend. Nick was like “Uhm.. you guys broke up months ago; she’s MY girlfriend” to which John replied “NO SHE ISN’T” and continued to stomp around work all day and glare at everyone. Even after I had been with Nick around 6-ish months, John was STILL angry and wouldn’t let go. One day in the breakroom, he started loudly complaining about me dating someone else and it wasn’t fair that we had broken up, and how hard it was to be in the same break area as me, etc, etc. At this point, another employee completely snapped and said, “John, you and Bast broke up last year. We’re all tired of hearing about it. This is why you don’t date your coworkers.” and stormed off. That shut him up– for a time. Shortly after, he once again cornered Nick, this time as he was leaving work, and stated that he was sorry that he had hit me and that he hoped I’d forgive him and take him back. Nick told him he was apologizing to the wrong person and reiterated that we were still together.

    That’s pretty much the end of that drama. I quit and started a new job shortly after that, and Nick and I have now been married over 10 years.

    1. MsM*

      Clearly John never stopped to consider the possessiveness might also have been a factor in you never, ever getting back together. Glad you made it out of there.

    2. Expelliarmus*

      Glad to hear you made it out of there, and glad to hear that John’s nonsense didn’t adversely affect your relationship with Nick!

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Even if you were inclined to forgive John and take him back, why in the WORLD would Nick want to help him?!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      . Afterward, he tried to convince me that he didn’t mean it, that it wasn’t really a big deal because I wasn’t actually hurt, that he had friends who were “really hurt” by their boyfriends so this didn’t count, etc, etc.

      Tell me I made the right decision without telling…

  53. Tried and Failed*

    My XH used to try to send me flowers at the office. In different years they showed up late, half-dead, and once he went out in the snow because the florist wouldn’t deliver. He stopped sending them to the office, and I can’t blame him.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      Was this all the same florist? Because in most places that aren’t small towns, there’s got to be more than one!

  54. Marlo Kirkpatrick*

    I’m a freelance writer who was hired by a professional wildlife photographer to write a coffee table book on his work. He was a rugged, Indiana Jones type (except he LOVED snakes). I always had a perfect manicure and had never been camping. I ended up accompanying him on an expedition to the Amazon rainforest. In what sounds like the plot of an 80s rom com, we fell in love in the jungle. And if you fall in love in the jungle, it is real love, because friends, between the humidity, the bug bites, and the sweat, you do NOT look pretty. We’ve been married for 25 years. My husband affectionately calls it “the job he’s still paying for.”

  55. many bells down*

    I was a 30-ish teacher in an elementary school. The older brother of one of my students (he was maybe 21?) decided he was in love with me. He’d come to pick up his sister from school and ask me out at least twice a week. At the time I was engaged and planning my wedding. I mentioned this to him several times, but it didn’t deter him.

    Then one day I was out sick, and he apparently showed up in a suit, with a huge bouquet, and proceeded to yell at my substitute demanding to know where I was. My sub, who was a regular and took zero crap, told him in no uncertain terms to get lost and then filed a complaint. He was banned from school grounds. I never saw him after that.

  56. Fledge Mulholland*

    I am a high school teacher who began dating another teacher at the school. We did our best to keep it under wraps, never really ate lunch together or spoke to each other too much in front of students or anything, but one weekend some of the students saw us at the movies together and the rumor mill began. We never confirmed it, but all of the students knew we were dating. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, in our attempt to not draw attention to ourselves, apparently we walked by each other in the hallway without looking at each other or acknowledging one another. Some students witnessing this started spreading the rumor that we must have broken up. In my last period class of the day, I had students putting Valentine’s Day cards on my desk to make me feel better, and telling me they were so sorry if today was a difficult day for me due to my breakup. They were so cute. I didn’t confirm or deny anything, just thanked them for their concern. They were convinced we were no longer together for a while, but a few months later, I had an engagement ring, so the cat was out of the bag again. We’ve now been married for ten years.

    1. awesome3*

      I was waiting for a high school teacher story! Every high school I’ve worked at has had so many faculty/staff married couples. What a cute story

      1. BubbleTea*

        At my high school, the art teacher, who was married to the IT teacher, had an affair with the PE teacher. It was Very Dramatic. Rather more sweetly, the geography teacher’s son married the English teacher.

    2. Ellabee*

      At my high school, many years ago, my French teacher was always talking about what a big crush she had on Tom Cruise. This was in the early 90s before it was clear what a strange person he was; he was just a hot movie star. She also would periodically complain to her students that she couldn’t get a date. Then the drama teacher began publicly claiming that the French teacher had a big thing for him, which the French teacher eye-rollingly denied. (These teachers seemed old to my 14-year-old self but they weren’t… I am pretty sure the drama teacher was 24.) The students found all this back and forth hugely entertaining… even more so when it came out a year or so later that the French teacher had been dating the very sweet band teacher the entire time, and both the Tom Cruise business and the hullabaloo about the drama teacher were deliberate distractions to throw the students off the scent. (Drama teacher was friends with the secret couple and knew what was happening all along.) French and band teachers got married, had kids, lived happily ever after.

  57. zolk*

    In undergrad I worked retail and made the mistake of dating a coworker. I broke up with him. He simply… stopped coming to work. At all. Didn’t quit, just ghosted the place.

    In my office jobs I have had multiple different managers try to set me up with coworkers or even strangers like the cashier at a convenience store. I don’t know what about me draws this.

  58. Big Bird*

    My daughter’s story–she works in a public school and LOVED her principal in a professional, role-model-y sort of way. When he was hospitalized after a stroke she (and students and the rest of the staff) were devastated. He recovered but retired without returning to school. Life went on for a few months, during which he was missed terribly and the interim had a very hard act to follow. UNTIL….it came out that he was having an affair with a young teacher, which was somehow uncovered by his wife as a result of his illness. Results–wife divorced him. The teacher/affair partner went on a “Medical LOA” and officially left at year-end. Principal ended up with a job in a different district. A certain all-school winter event is now banned because it was originated by the affair partner, much to the dismay of the parents who keep asking why.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      I don’t follow why the event is banned? Because “we didn’t like what this person did with a married man, so now we can’t do this unrelated event at all” or because “nobody else wanted to do the organizing”? But the latter wouldn’t require a ban.

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      I hate that kind of thinking. “We have to cancel successful, popular thing because we no longer like/approve of the person who thought it up.”
      Like Bruce Dern said in Support Your Local Sheriff, that’s just dumb and stupid!

  59. Pangolin*

    My boyfriend at uni got me a job at the shop where he worked. The staff area had a whiteboard where people would write updates, reminders, and also banter. After a few months of living and working together, I went to visit friends and he couldn’t come. When I got back, he broke up with me. I discovered that while I was away he had put up a poll on the work whiteboard for whether he should break up with me – and our colleagues had voted yes. In hindsight, they did me a favour (though I doubt all of them meant it that way), but as a 20 year old experiencing the end of their first serious long term relationship it felt pretty bad to say the least!

    1. ferrina*

      What is up with that guy?! And to have all your colleagues know he’s breaking up with you before you know- how horrible!

    2. Cat*

      If you’re at the point of considering doing a public poll on whether to break up with someone, you kinda have your answer already…

      1. Bruce*

        Ding ding ding, that is the right answer! And consider that a bullet dodged, as painful as it must have been to come back to that!

  60. KToo*

    My partner and I met at work 20 years ago. We’d been working for the same company in the same building for 2 years but because of how large it was our paths never crossed. Then I was moved to a different division and he ended up being someone I was working with. I didn’t even really like him at first, and he was going through a break up, but a mutual friend encouraged us both just to give it a chance. I guess she was right, because we’re still together, doing the same job as each other for the same company, and have 2 kids together. Then my oldest daughter (from a previous relationship) started working at the same company and ended up meeting her partner, as well, and they have an 18 month old together. So for some people office romances really do work out.

  61. Ayla K*

    Early in my career, I worked as a junior associate at a bank with very high-profile clients, and all employees were expected to dress a step up from business casual, even if we weren’t client-facing, so I started used a clothing rental service to help boost my wardrobe. On Valentine’s Day, the rental company decided to “surprise” some of their members by hiring a courier service to hand-deliver a box of clothes. They had the couriers wear tuxedos and bring red roses along with the boxes. I was paged to the front desk, which was baffling since I never met with clients or had guests, and I found half the office standing in the lobby waiting for me with huge grins. The courier awkwardly handed me the rose and box and then got ready to head out before the receptionist and other employees started raising a ruckus – they had all gathered together assuming someone’s boyfriend was there to propose!! I had to explain that I did not know this man, and that this was essentially just me receiving some mail. They still made me take photos with him before they let him leave.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      Why was the clothing rental service coming to your workplace and not your home? Or am I misunderstanding and this was the front desk of your apartment complex or something?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s often easier to get deliveries at work because you’re there during business hours at regular times and someone’s available to receive/sign for it.

        1. Ayla K*

          Yup, I was getting packages delivered at work, since my crappy apartment in the city had no protected place to leave mail.

  62. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

    The weekly work thread includes school so I will too…I had been dating a guy for about a year in college, and we were pretty serious. We were both music majors. One quarter we both joined a non-performing ensemble that was just about listening and improving musicianship. To that end, we all sat in a circle while playing. The idea was we could make better eye contact and communicate better nonverbally, perhaps improving general togetherness.

    I am incredibly shy with eye contact in conversation, so this was not my favorite. I especially found it weird that among all of these mere acquaintances I had to briefly look at, in the mix was also my serious boyfriend! So I avoided looking at him altogether. He noticed this and took the opportunity to simply STARE at me, HARD, for long periods of time.

    Obviously he is now New Dad of 1 5/9. (Soon to be 6/9 months tomorrow, nice.)

  63. Lou's Girl*

    My former dentist- he and his wife seemed happy, she would stop by the office and bring treats, all the patients knew her, and the staff seemed to really like her. At my next appointment (6 months later) I found out that he had divorced his wife and was now married to his Office Manager.
    The Office Manager now made everyone’s life hell- even the patients. I ended up finding a new dentist because of her. Most of his staff quit. I’m not sure why she changed, our best guess was that she was possibly afraid he’d find love with another staff member?

  64. christine c*

    Years ago, I worked at a small nonprofit, reporting to a manager (female, 40ish, let’s call her Rachel) who was a lovely person and professionally impressive in many ways, but I think was also going through a tough time personally and not exercising the best judgement some of the time.

    One day, she brought in and introduced a very handsome 20-something man (let’s call him Chris), also very nice, who she explained was an old friend of a friend (I think actually she’d worked with his ex?) who had just moved to our north american city, and who was interested in volunteering with our team for a bit while he looked for work — she indicated she was professionally mentoring him for a career change. Chris was diligent enough though not skilled in our area, but this went fine for a few weeks. They did sometimes arrive in or leave the office together, but this was explained as her being his only friend in our city and them having some shared interests like taking yoga together .

    Then, we had a job opening for someone to be based in a south-asian country. Our team thought we’d be hiring locally there, but my boss suddenly announced she had selected Chris for the job, and off he went to the other side of the world for the forseeable future. It was obvious to everyone that he wasn’t especially qualified and she’d done this as a favour to him as his career prospects weren’t great, but the job was an ok fit for his skills and he did an adequate job, though I think the relocation experience was pretty overwhelming.

    Only like a year later, on an occasion when she’d had a couple of drinks, did she accidentally let slip a comment regarding “when I was seeing Chris”. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure they were in a boundary-crossing secret relationship that started as professional mentorship and shifted to a vague dating/friends with benefits relationship, and she’d had enough of it she relocated him across the globe so she had some distance but also a conveniently located hot booty call when her regular business trips took her there.

  65. pearly*

    I was *very* young, still in college. A manager in a different department and I became single around the same time, and although he was a bit older, we started chatting and seeing each other a bit. I thought we were super discreet, but then one day a coworker pulled me aside and said “I just want you to know, you are both really, really pale, and you both turn tomato-red when you’re in the same room. Everyone knows.”

  66. Camellia*

    Many years ago we had a husband and wife in our department, different teams. He was nice, she was bananapants. One day when I got home from work my husband said, “You’ve got to come out to the back yard and meet our new neighbor; he’s really nice!”

    So I go out and it’s coworker’s husband and their two kids. Turns out they had spent months going through a nasty divorce, he got full custody, and bought the house next door. They had both kept it secret from work. All I could do was tell him that I wouldn’t say a word to ANYONE at work. But oh my, what a shock to both of us!

  67. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    My husband and I did not meet at work, but we now both work for the same large company in different departments. One Valentines Day he went into work early to leave a present on my desk — a balloon attached to a box of chocolates. Sweet, huh?

    But when you opened the box of chocolates it played, very loudly, “I’ve Got You Babe”. All day long people came by my desk to comment on it, would pull on the balloon, the lid would open, and everyone around me would hear “They say we’re young…” I wanted to hide it but there aren’t many places in a cube farm you can hide a large helium balloon.

  68. never doing that again*

    When I was in my late 20’s, I started dating a coworker in his early 20’s. It wasn’t a huge age gap but in those days it felt huge. It was like dating a college bro. His bathroom still gives me nightmares.

    We had only been on a few dates when he applied to work in a job that I would work with. I was asked to be on the interview panel. I had to go to my boss and the hiring manager and explain why I couldn’t be on the panel.

    I helped him prep for the interview. He didn’t get the job, and then broke up with me.

  69. Oh buoy*

    I once worked at a place where the president was dating the VP while he was not only still married, but going through IVF with his spouse. They then had quadruplets, he divorced wife, and agreed to move in with the VP every year for years before changing his mind at the last minute (leaving VP scrambling to find a place to live). Big office fights. Yelling. Breakups. VP sent on a months-long hush-hush vacation (still on the payroll but shareholders thought they were still working) as compensation. Prez dating other women in the office who worked under the VP. Discomfort all round. Wish there were some kind of UK laws to protect the rest of us from the office turmoil–especially the new women who ended up in the crossfire.

      1. Artemesia*

        No kidding. And almost certainly premature and disabled quadruplets. Hope they turned out okay — What a jerk that guy was.

  70. Noodler*

    A story from when I first started working at my current company…. A husband/wife couple were both managers. She was supposedly working late and he decided to surprise her and walked into the office to find her having sex with their boss in one of the conference rooms. HR was a mess back then and somehow no one was fired, but also no one quit. It was common knowledge with everyone though – especially as the subsequent divorce was messy and they all continued to work there for a while, in the same roles, while the wife continued to date (and eventually marry) the boss.

  71. Alex*

    When I was an older teen/young adult, I worked at an overnight summer camp. Obviously, with so many teens and young adults on staff, all living together, there was going to be some hanky panky going on. There was a small group activity building that was kind of private at off hours that many couples would use for aforementioned hanky panky.

    One day, I led a group of kids into the building, and the space had obviously been used the night before. There was a camping mattress, sleeping bag, and candles set up on the floor. The kids were all like “WHY IS THIS HERE?” Most of them probably knew exactly why lol. In addition to these items, there was a pair of socks folded up and placed on the sleeping bag. I was pretty sure I knew exactly who had been up to this and decided to play a little trick.

    At mealtimes it was typical that staff would stand up and announce lost items. “Who lost this towel at swim class?” kind of stuff. Well, that night at dinner I stood up and said “I found this pair of socks in the small group area! Belong to anyone?” And the culprit, unthinkingly, raised her hand and said OH those are MINE! Of course, everyone knew everyone’s business and knew exactly what a staff member’s socks would be in that area, but she didn’t connect it until she was already coming forward to grab them. The look of recognition that slowly clouded her face was priceless, as she realized that everyone in the know, even our boss, was chuckling at her.

    Don’t worry, we’re still friends :)

    1. Emily Byrd Starr*

      That reminds me of that summer when I was a camper, and two of the counselors were not-so-secretly dating. One night, someone in my unit caught them making out on the back porch. We were middle-school age at the time, so you can imagine how we reacted!

  72. Aww, coffee, no*

    I’d gone out on a date with a co-worker from a different department ‘Dan’, realised I was massively on the rebound from a significant ex, and the next day apologetically explained this and that thus there wouldn’t be a second date. He took it well and behaved perfectly normally after that; no . A couple of my closer work friends knew about the one-off date, one of whom, ‘Helen’ was slightly deaf (the deafness will become relevant shortly). Helen was lovely and had not a malicious bone in her body but could be very scatty and not the best at reading the room.
    All of which led to: A month or so later Dan, Helen and I were discussing a work problem when, goodness only knows why, Helen decided to share with the two of us about a dream she’d had where we were both sitting in the same bed. ‘But nothing happened’ she said, ‘you were both fully dressed, just both in bed together’. Seeing the look of horrified embarrassment on my face she doubled down on the ‘no, no, nothing happened, you were both dressed, it was fine, it was just an odd dream’.
    Did I mention Helen was slightly deaf? Which meant her volume control was…unreliable… and in this instance her volume was such that pretty much everyone in the open office could hear her.
    ‘Stop’ I pleaded. ‘Please, stop digging, you’ve nearly reached Australia, just stop now!’ Honestly, I can’t actually remember how I made her finally stop; possibly Dan intervened, possibly the office roof fell in and killed us all, but finally, FINALLY, she stopped. We wrapped up the work-problem-conversation and returned to our desks, where I could finally die of embarrassment in peace.
    Kudos to Dan: at no point then or later did he try and take advantage of Helen’s over-sharing, or otherwise try to make me feel bad for not continuing to date him. He was (and presumably still is, but we lost touch when I changed jobs) a genuinely good guy.

  73. Bananas yo.*

    I had a colleague, Jim, who was not in my department but who I worked with frequently through committee work. I did not know him before he joined my company, but others on the committee had known him previously, and we were all friendly. Over our first several months working together I felt like Jim was flirting with me and making advances. He’d frequently text me just to ask how I was doing and invite me to social events, all of which I declined. The situation came to a head one day when I left a work event, that he was also at, early for a meeting, and he texted me asking where I was going and if I was okay. I told him that it was inappropriate and needed to stop. After gaslighting me a bit, he apologized and asked if we could start over, and we did.

    Jim and I were friendly after that, but he never spoke about his partners until one day he announced he was getting married the next week. Then the wedding was called off. Then the wedding was back on. They eventually got married and had a baby, and a bit after that I heard through the grapevine that they had separated. He left the company not too long after this.

    Some of my colleagues keep in touch with Jim socially, and about a year after he left, I asked them how he was doing. It turns out that while he was still with the company, he had also been “dating” an administrative assistant, who was a single mother, in another department. When she got pregnant early in their relationship, he made it clear they were just casually dating, and not in a serious relationship. She was so distressed about the situation she ended up leaving the company.

    It also turns out that Jim has had five kids with as many women and never spoke about any of the kids or his partners, except the one he married during his tenure at our company. The baby with the administrative assistant was likely #4, and he had since (at last check, a year ago) had another baby after that. He doesn’t owe anyone any information about his life, it was just glaring clear after I heard this news about why he played his cards so close to the vest.

  74. Meow*

    There was a guy at work who apparently had a crush on me for a while, but despite working in similar departments, our job functions were completely different so he didn’t have many excuses to talk to me. But he did kinda know my cubicle mate Steven, so all of sudden he started spending a lot of time talking to Steven during breaks, often about semi personal stuff, like the fact he was single dad. I’d chime in occasionally, since I was sitting right there. Then the guy asked me if he could add me on Facebook because it had supposedly recommended us as friends based on proximity, I was totally oblivious and was like sure, whatever. The rest is history, and we’ve been married for 6 years.

    When we first started dating, we kept quiet about it for a month or two to try to spare the drama if it didn’t work out. But he would still come by my cubicle every break to talk to me and Steven. One day after he left, my coworker across the isle said, “Well, he has a crush on *one* of you!”

  75. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    One more story.

    I used to teach EFL in Hong Kong. One day at lunch I was told the English department was going out for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Surprisingly a student teacher from another department was also invited. We get to the restaurant, my department head says something to the hostess, and the rest of the English department disappears, leaving me and the student teacher to eat alone. It was a blind date that we didn’t even know was going to be a date. It was the most awkward first date ever, since he struggled with English and my Cantonese was mostly limited to ordering food. There was no second date, but a handful of students saw us eating together and the rumors of us being an item lasted the rest of the semester.

    1. Baldrick*

      Oh, wow, so the librarian situation where the two people were scheduled at the same desk was how to do things right, and in your case this is how to do things completely wrong!

  76. Ayla K*

    Early in my career, I worked as a junior associate at a bank with some high-profile clients, so we were all required to dress a step up from business casual, even if we weren’t in client-facing jobs (which I wasn’t), so I subscribed to a clothing rental company to boost my wardrobe. On Valentine’s Day, the rental company decided to “surprise” some of their members by hiring a courier service to hand-deliver their newest rental box. They had the couriers dress up in tuxedos and carry red roses for the members. I was paged to the front desk, which never happened (because I never met with clients), and when I got there, half the office was waiting for me, grinning. The courier awkwardly handed me a rose and the box and turned to head out… but then the receptionist and the other employees started raising a ruckus. It turns out, they all heard about the dressy man in the lobby and had gathered around because they thought he was someone’s boyfriend come to propose! I had to explain to everyone that I DID NOT KNOW THIS MAN, and that he was only there to deliver my mail. They still made me take photos with him before they let him leave.

    1. Ayla K*

      Oh heck this didn’t post the first time so I typed it up again, but now it’s here twice. Ah well.

      The rental company didn’t do any member surprises the next year.

  77. BellyButton*

    I can’t with the tinkleweeds (shout out to Juicebox Hero for this gem!) . LOL!! I know he meant well, but there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap.

  78. Keely*

    My now husband used to send flowers to my office for Valentine’s Day and my birthday when I worked at a super toxic clinic. The longest tenured office assistant HATED this and made snide comments about it. One year she tried to blame the ant problem on my flowers and tossed them in the garbage while I was out on an appointment call. We had it out over those damn flowers because the ants were there because the whole building had just been expanded and remodeled and not from the professional florist. My boss refused to get involved and I told my boyfriend to just send them to my apartment instead.

  79. Ingalls*

    My husband and I meet at work over 30 years ago. Everyone knew we were dating, but we were in totally different departments so it wasn’t a big deal. One day flowers arrived at the front desk for me. The VP happened to be walking by as they were delivered and asked me what the occasion was. I told him “Oh, boyfriend was a total arse yesterday and this is him apologizing.”
    After that, every time I got flowers, the VP would ask “What did he do now?”

  80. No Yelling on the Bus*

    I have the opposite of a romance story. Young woman in my early 20’s in a male dominated discipline, I never wanted my qualifications or professionalism to be called into question. There was a lot of dating going on, and an annual satirical publication (published anonymously), one of the features of which was to catalogue who was dating whom and therefore connected to other people via past romances. I told colleagues I’d never consider dating anybody we worked with and found out 2 years later that my reputation as “The one who wouldn’t” preceded me – people literally knew that about me before they knew ANYTHING else about me. So, despite my best efforts for my personal life not to interfere with my professional reputation, it did anyway.

  81. Cubicles and Chimeras*

    My work at the time had a fair amount of people who were dating each other, but for some reason one couple was keeping it very quiet. (The only thing I’d question is choosing to date someone within your team, even under different managers. Seems like potential for disaster to me.)

    But I found out about it because apparently me and the girlfriend looked similar from behind at the time, and he came up behind me at the copier and grabbed my ass. Dude couldn’t look me in the eye 3 years down the road still. They’re still together 7+ years later and I still find it hilarious.

  82. AcadLibrarian*

    I went to get a coke out of the vending machine. The coke machine and the snack machine were both in a little alcove off an atrium. The snack vendor was kneeling and refilling the snack machine. As I put my quarters in the coke machine (it was 20 years ago), the dude looked me up and down, AND PROCEEDED TO TAKE OFF HIS WEDDING RING. I grabbed my coke and fled. The added bonus was even at the ripe old age of 25, I was regularly mistaken for a middle schooler.

  83. Ingalls*

    My husband and I started dating when we worked for the same company thirty years ago. We worked in different departments, it wasn’t a big deal and everyone was aware.
    One day flowers arrived for me at the front desk. The VP happened to be walking by when I went out to retrieve them and asked me what the occasion was.
    I replied “Oh boyfriend was a total arse yesterday and this is his way of apologizing.”
    After that, every time I received flowers the VP would ask me “what did that arse do now?”

      1. Ingalls*

        BTW, we are still married and he is still an arse sometimes. I just don’t get the flowers anymore.

  84. gingerbread*

    On my last day working a pizza parlor, I ordered a pizza at the end of my shift to take home for dinner. The guy that made the pizza was sweet on me, it had always been very obvious, but I had a boyfriend so he never made a move. Then when I got home and opened my pizza, he had spelled out “I <3 U" with sausage. My boyfriend was not amused.

    Also, on year on Valentine's Day when I was single and playing the field, I got roses delivered at work from 3 different suitors. I was so embarrassed.

  85. Michelle Smith*

    Too many sweet, happy stories in this comment section, I’m kind of disappointed haha. I’m here for the messy drama that was requested in the post!

  86. H.Regalis*

    When my partner was in grad school, another student invited him and the rest of their cohort to a party to watch an astronomical event (comet, eclipse, something like that) and have a BBQ. Other Student was polyam and also invited all of his polyam friends.

    As it got dark out, Other Student fired up their outdoor hot tub. Polyam friends proceeded to all get in the hot tub and start having an orgy, while all the Grad School friends hid in the house and discussed grad school stuff, doing their damnedest to ignore the backyard.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, I would have filled that thing with bleach the next morning. And more bleach. And then more bleach.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I don’t have a problem with an orgy if that’s what people want to do (not my thing, but whatever). But the lack of consent from the other people present at the party?! Fucking YIKES!!

      2. Beth*

        I think the hot tub belonged to the poly student, so his tub, his mess. But ick. Bad bad bad to do it at an event with non-consenting guests present.

    2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      As someone who is polyamorous, I won’t say Other Student & Co. are not polyamorous, but they are very, very stupid.

  87. Helen_of_the_Midwest*

    Not an office romance, exactly, but a workplace relationship-gone-wrong story nonetheless. As a young adult, I worked at a sleep-away summer camp that I had attended as a child/teenager. As a teenage camper, I had a crush on one of my fellow campers, who became a counselor the same year I did. The leadership staff remembered how close we had been and assigned us to work together. Not only did it turn out we had massively different work styles, but he’d also been my prom date a couple months before we started working as counselors . . . and he’d rejected my request for a romance AT PROM (when I’d asked him to the dance, it had been ambiguous whether I was asking as friends or if I’d meant it as the start of a relationship). So that summer we were both feeling really awkward around each other, and he dealt with that mainly by avoiding me, which made it really difficult to work together. (This was years ago now, he’s apologized for being weird that summer, and we’re still friends, now both happily dating other people.)

  88. That girl with superhero issues*

    My parents met at work. Their cubicles were near each other. Mom didn’t change her name until after I was born. Dad goes out for a run at lunch and happens to see Mom and other co-worker coming back from off-site lunch. It’s a huge international company so it’s easy to assume they wouldn’t necessarily know each other. Co-worker tries to make introductions. He vaguely suggests that they would be compatible. They quickly explain that they are both already married…. To each other!

  89. Pinky Blinky*

    Years ago, I got a call from one of my local stores (I am in HR). Several employees were complaining that their Manager and Asst Manager were ‘hooking up.’ I call my boss and he decided to pay the store a visit. My boss (HR) finds the Manager and Asst Manager in the Manager’s office with the door locked (with, as my boss put it, ‘lots of weird noises coming from the office.’)

    HR banged on the door and the store Manager yelled “go away.” My boss told them that he was with HR and to open the door immediately. It took them a minute or 2 to open the door and when they did, HR stated later that they ‘looked quite disheveled.’

    HR asked what they were doing to which the Store Manager replied “training.” HR sent them both home and suspended them pending an investigation.

    Asst Manager called crying stating she needed her job and telling us that it was all the Manager’s idea, she felt coerced. Upon further investigation, the Store Manager had several other ‘girlfriends’ (including customers, vendors, etc.) and was misusing his company credit card (some of which was keeping the local florists in business).

    He was fired immediately, we did allow her to keep her job, but she quit after a couple weeks because of all the gossip. Sadly, both parties were married to other people. We heard her husband left, but we heard the Manager’s wife stayed because they had a newborn.

  90. Joyce to the World*

    At the very large company I worked at, it always seemed to be the same people who had no problem using work as the dating pool. One lady dated her boss, boss got fired, she got promoted. She then started dating the serial dater. He had worked himself through quite a few ladies, dating and even marrying, abusing and then divorcing them. He wouldn’t go away and spent all his time in the spare chair in her cubicle. He then got promoted, then they both again got promoted. They got married. I just feel sorry for the ex-wife. Can you imagine working in the same building as your abusive ex-husband? Another couple, they were together and engaged for years and the guy kept cheating on her with the young new girls. She finally wised up and kicked him to the curb.

  91. Overseas love?*

    At one job I felt like I was basically thrown at a guy that I was working with, and it was so frustrating. I was living overseas in a country that (at least outside the capital) had more conservative ideas about male/female relationships and spending time alone, etc. But the two of us were working on a team solo and spent almost ALL of our work time together, including several hours each week planning and prepping for our work alone in my apartment. At the time my housemate was gone most of the week (including leaving town every weekend to go visit family), so he was about the only adult I had any conversation with all week besides a local store clerk (we were working with kids and we saw other adults at their school but not very much). I asked for options so we wouldn’t have to be alone all the time; I even begged for somewhere (our office? Something?) that we could meet and prep, but since all of the materials were stored at my place that went nowhere. (I will add that the young man in question did nothing to make me feel uneasy; it was the general being alone w/ him all the time esp in a culture where that wasn’t cool that bothered me.) Neither of us was conventionally attractive and many of the others in my (mostly female) organization found him mildly annoying (he thought he was funnier than he was; again not in a creepy way, just in telling terrible groaners that got old after awhile), so I guess they assumed that we couldn’t possibly be interested in each other.

    Well, when you spend several months in your 20s working one-on-one with a member of a sex you’re attracted to and you like that person reasonably well and they are decently attractive…. feelings started. Which was a problem because technically we had a no dating in the workplace rule, which made sense to a certain extent (we were small enough that that had the possibility of blowing up in terrible ways), but was super unhelpful in our situation. Anguish! Sighs! Painfulness! At one point in time I had to leave to return to my home country, and there were visa issues, so he offered to marry me so I could come back. I was sensible enough not to marry someone whom I had never dated, and that was my eye-opening moment that this wouldn’t work out, but it gives you an idea of how things were going.

    Finally, months later he had moved on to a new job and I’d returned to the country, so we technically could have dated, but I’d also moved on emotionally. He sent me a text out of the blue asking if we could go for a walk. I said sure. Please remember that we had spent MONTHS together all the time including regular time alone. But apparently going on a walk with him meant that we were…. dating? In his eyes at least (unsure if this was a cultural expectation or if he was just… hopeful). He walked me to the house of some friends that I was visiting and gave me a huge bouquet of flowers (that I had to carry with me awkwardly on the walk and then go in without any idea of what to say to the friends whose house I’d arrived at with a bunch of flowers and a guy I’d thought was a friend). Somehow that awkwardness (and his assumption that we were dating, although again my agreeing to go on the walk could have meant that culturally??) killed things for me, and we never saw each other again. Years later he mentioned it to my housemate (one of the people I’d begged to act as a chaperone) and she was utterly dumbfounded that we’d had feelings for each other. And I remain bitter at my place of employment for forcing me as a young woman in my 20s to spend several hours each week alone in my apartment with a young man when I had specifically asked for this not to happen and indicated my discomfort. He never did anything during that time (except during the time we were actively interested in each other when we made anguished eye contact and the like), but HE COULD HAVE.

    1. Overseas love?*

      Upon further reflection, I should mention that we were working as Christian missionaries (trying to teach disadvantaged kids useful life skills and such) in a conservative Christian country. Had we done anything beyond holding hands or maaaybe kissing then I at least would have been fired and sent home in shame and possibly used as a byword in promiscuity for years, and he might have been fired too. It was the kind of country where in the rural areas marriage still often happens by a couple meeting each other a few times in a carefully supervised setting, deciding that they’ll suit, and then getting married. Not always, and that’s changed a lot in the last 50 years, but it’s still a thing that’s done (or was when I was there, which was admittedly 20 years ago). Which is part of why I was so upset about the whole situation on our organization’s part (including our supervisor who was a national of that country); they just didn’t see him as romantic partner material, and possibly not me either, so they just… ignored the situation. While making me the team lead of a 2-person team with a guy who grew up in a culture where men are always the ones in charge, and just… assumed it would be fine.

      1. econobiker*

        Wowwwwwww, yes, very uncomfortable!

        Thank you for the further explanation which definitely ratchets up the gender roles/cultural/religious/employment issues so much farther in this case!!!

  92. blupuck*

    Years ago, I was working at a supermarket and had a coworker Stephanie. My father worked at a paint store and had a coworker named Dave.
    Local kids who knew OF each other. Though they hadn’t conversed in years, they hated each other. Constant bad mouthing. Neither remembered why there was this dislike though. We asked!
    It was sad. They were well suited for each other.
    So my Dad and I hatched a plan. We’d talk up the other. ‘Oh Stef! Dave and my Dad went hunting. Boy, Dave is a good guy. They had such fun’. “Hey Dave! My daughter and Stephanie went downtown to the farmers market. She’s really awesome’ etc.
    A few months after this, Dave and Stephanie cross paths at a party. Rather than avoid each other as they had done for years, they stopped and had a chat. Their conversation started with a lot of jokes about my dad and I…
    We attended their wedding a few years later.

  93. Sam*

    Office Christmas party and the wealthy (married) owner has brought a gift for all 15 employees. They enjoy refreshments and open gifts one by one: nice pen, desk set, business tote, yada yada. Except one female employee received an expensive diamond necklace!

    This real-life situation was like a parody skit lifted from SNL. So many stories.

  94. Bruce*

    I have a long story about a CEO, but suffice it to say that he was divorced due to being a workaholic, fell in love with and married his admin, and decades later they are still together and seem well suited for each other.

  95. Polly Pocket*

    We had a big work retreat every year for a week, and one year it seemed like two people, let’s call them Jim and Pam were suddenly very close. Jim was a notorious flirt, but Pam had a long-term boyfriend and they worked on different teams and in different states, so we didn’t think too much of it.

    A week or so later, staff from Jim’s office were posting pictures on social media of them hanging out at a big local festival, and I noticed Pam was there. The next day the same staffers were posting pictures of Jim proposing with a ring, Pam accepting, and the two of them kissing.

    The entire company spent the next week trying to figure out if this was a prank. Monday it seemed real, Tuesday someone said it was a prank, Wednesday we weren’t sure again, etc. The gossip mill was working overtime!

    As it turns out, it wasn’t a prank! Pam had gone home from the retreat and broken up with her boyfriend, then Jim had invited her to visit and bought her a plane ticket. Jim transferred to Pam’s office a month later, they got married the next year, and are happily married five years later.

    As far as anyone knows, they didn’t know each other before the retreat.

  96. TeachThis*

    So! My boyfriend at the time had just moved across country for me so we could see if our relationship was working. This was in the Outback quite a few years ago. I was working at a roadhouse that was the only rest stop for a 100 miles or so. He got a job in the kitchen as a chef and I in the bar…tending bar. He had to come from the kitchen into the bar area to get ice and water. I was serving an elderly conservative-looking couple when he decided to grab my ass to embarrass me. The couple cringed for me, but without missing a beat I said, “Oh, don’t worry, he’s my brother.”

    My boyfriend looked like I had grown a second head and the couple could NOT stop laughing.

  97. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    Many many years ago (we’re talking mid-80’s), my wife sent me flowers at work. Now, at the time, I worked in a secure area. So I get a call from the department secretary to come get something.

    I need to carry the flowers down two halls and then into the nice secure area, past another hall full of offices. To be honest, I wasn’t embarrassed — but remember, it was the ’80s — so I got ragged about it for a week or so.

  98. Backseat Fish*

    Our department director was dating a subordinate on the DL. We all knew because she was very excited about it, acting like she was the boss and would be promoted any minute, telling people they would be getting fired and she’d get the better shift. We all knew he was still married and working things out with his wife and that HR would go scorched earth on both of them if it kept getting out of hand. We tried helping her until she tried to pull rank over something she had no power to do and caused a huge problem. The director handled it by dumping her the week before Valentine’s by transferring her to a different department, refusing to talk to her and denying their relationship so he wouldn’t get fired. She was livid and came to our building and filled the back of his car with dead fish. It was winter so it’s not like it sat in the heat but I bet it didn’t smell great. Reason #45 why you don’t date your boss.

    1. Silver Robin*

      Now I am trying to imagine what it would have looked like if the car had been filled with *live* fish…

  99. I Found True Love at Orange Julius*

    Back in high school, I worked at our local mall’s Orange Julius. I lived in a Big College Tiny Town, and the summer between my junior and senior year we hired a new college student with whom I had a LOT in common. Over the next year, we joked around and discussed pop culture every shift we worked together, and ran into each other frequently at events around town.

    My parents were not pleased when I asked him out on my 18th birthday. But they got over it. We got married four years later and celebrated our 28th anniversary last summer.

  100. Katherine*

    Many years ago I had a job where I would work a few hours after everyone else left, except for one other employee, Eric (not changing names because name and shame). Since we both worked late sometimes after work we would hang out. I thought we were friends. Then he broke up with me and I was very surprised because I hadn’t even known we were dating. Then he reported me to the director/owner for sexual harrassment. Then I found out he had done the same thing to at least 2 other coworkers, and had bragged to a different coworker about doing so (his philosophy was to make the report so that if reported him it would look like retaliation). I have no answer as to why the director didn’t start becoming suspicious about these reports.
    What kind of work environment would have this kind of drama? Gentle reader, it was a preschool.

    1. BellyButton*

      What?!?! OMG, he broke up with you and you weren’t dating?? What kind of messed up psychological game is that?? Shame on Eric! I can’t believe director put up with that and didn’t get sued. wow.

      1. Katherine*

        I was 18 or 19 at the time so the thought of suing did not occur to me. I became pretty close friends with the 2 other women, though!

    2. ferrina*

      Preschools are some of the most dramatic places I have ever worked. A lot of it has to do with the high turnover- it’s high stress and low pay, so management turns a blind eye to any personnel drama

      1. Katherine*

        Oh man. The one my kid went to had one employee (A) start seeing another employee (B)’s boyfriend, so then B went through A’s employee file for some reason and was fired and then called parents and made allegations about A slapping their kids; there was a whole investigation, it was awful.

  101. phira*

    My spouse and I did not have a workplace romance, but because of our work history, people think that we did. We both worked in academia for years in completely different capacities, we never once even came close to interacting professionally. About a year after we met and began dating, he got a job at the university where I was, and we were both there for 4 years at the same time. We then both left that university around the same time and just happened to end up at the same second university (really–I stumbled on an opportunity there, and he was applying for all sorts of jobs, including ones outside academia), where we both were again for even longer.

    Now he’s at a start-up and I’m a stay-at-home parent, but anyone who worked with us over those 10 years, or who looks at any of our work histories assumes that we met through work.

  102. What in the Microwave*

    Had a coworker (“Jen”) hired at the same time as her husband’s best friend (“Mike”). Jen proceeded to have an affair with someone on Mike’s team. In full view of Mike, Jen and her partner would disappear for lunch break together and come back with lipstick smudges and disheveled clothes. When Jen announced her “miracle pregnancy” (since, as she proudly told everyone, her husband had had a vasectomy years earlier), she was shocked to find out her husband wanted a paternity test. She moved away quickly after that, and I always wondered what happened next in the soap opera.

  103. DorthVader*

    I used to work at Build A Bear in high school and college (before every single animal was from a licensed property) and February 13th was the BEST day of the year. After 4 pm the store was PACKED with people who needed gifts for their partners (usually semi-frantic older teenage boys or 20-something men who’d forgotten what the next day was). We could upsell them on ANYTHING- shoes, felt flowers, make-your-own sounds, a more expensive animal. Unless it was a blizzard, the five hours between 4 and close were among the best of the year for us.
    If you’re looking for cheap amusement next Tuesday, get a pretzel and go to Build A Bear just to watch haha

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      Worked at a chocolate shop while I was in college and can confirm: Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 were the BEST shifts. Only days of the year we sold the five-pound boxes of truffles.

  104. Zombeyonce*

    I worked in the WalMart-esque general store on a military base for several years. As in all retail stores, there was a lot of romantic drama happening behind the scenes all the time, but one was particularly dramatic.

    My coworker Guinevere was married to someone in the military. Lancelot was her “work husband” and they flirted constantly, so much so that they became pretty annoying to be around. Everyone figured it was harmless but the gossip started to ramp up when they’d both be late back from lunches a couple of times a week. She always claimed she was busy doing chores at her home on base (just a few minutes away) and he said he just got stuck in line at a fast food restaurant.

    That is, until someone walking back into the building from the back lot passed her car one day, and they saw Guinevere and Lancelot in the backseat, clearly breaking some wedding vows. This set off a major incident of base-wide gossip, anonymous calls and emails to spouses, and even military brass intervention.

    The most shocking thing about the whole incident? Neither one of them got fired and had to keep working together while divorce was contemplated and side-eye was plentiful.

    1. Bruce*

      Ooo, the military considers that sort of thing bad for morale! Funny, when I was a kid we were posted to a VERY remote base (over seas but not in a combat area), when I grew up my parents told me that there were a lot of affairs and scandals. The captain my Dad served under was a good guy but the captain before him had cut a wide swath through the spouses of his junior officers. This was during the Vietnam war and being posted to this base was bad for the career when there were more combat adjacent jobs… and it was the late 60s!

  105. Lionheart26*

    My story is definitely on the disaster side of the coin. My boyfriend and I had been together 11 years before he left me for another co-worker. We had both just signed on to extend our contract for 12 months and neither of us wanted to back down and break contract, so instead we forced our colleagues to deal with our passive aggressive bullshit for an entire year before (I won and) he left.

    I think the highlight of the year of awkward was when he was tasked with reporting to the all-staff meeting on the progress of a major project he was in charge of. My charming ex decided to talk about the timeline of the project using the analogy of a relationship; we first met the project requirements; love at first sight. then we held hands, shared a kiss… now we’re moving in together. Who knows, if things continue to go well, this project might meet the parent company, and eventually get married! (they did get married, by the way).

    You would be forgiven for thinking that this meeting was the most awkward the break-up could get, but I was not to be outdone. I volunteered to DJ the staff Christmas party for free, but only if I was advertised by my moniker DJaded.

    I apologise sincerely to any former colleagues who read AAM and remember those dark dark days.

    1. Bread Crimes*

      Okay but DJaded is the best DJ name that I’ve ever encountered. You should get a side gig under that name for spinning the discs at divorce parties.

  106. Young & Dumb (But Having Fun!)*

    Early in my career (female, mid-twenties) I got involved with a key business contact “C”. He was a charismatic, successful business owner who came to town 4 or 5 times a year. There was no DOCUMENTED rule against seeing him but, I knew better than to mention it. It was casual; I was young. We had some fun times.

    At work, I got a call from a florist saying they’d tried unsuccessfully to deliver flowers to my apartment and asked for alternate location. I gave them the office address, with no clue they were from “C”. Receptionist read the card. Questions ensued.

    Within the hour “C” sent flowers to every female in the office, thanking them for all their diligent efforts.

    I don’t think my boss was fooled, especially as I later learned, she also had a “connection” with C.

  107. Llama Llama*

    My now husband and I met while working at a retail store. He was two levels above me but we really didn’t work together but hung out a lot. So it was against store policy and they would have transferred one of us if they found out.

    When we started dating, we kept it quiet but it wasn’t exactly a secret. A co-worker told the store manager but the store manager dismissed it by saying ‘Oh she is too sweet for him’.

    My husband quit for a better job a few weeks later and all came out then.

  108. La Triviata*

    Many, many years ago I worked at a large international company. One of the owners had, before my time, divorced his wife and married his secretary (this was long enough ago that people actually had secretaries). To prevent others from following his path, or some other reason, he created a rule that married couples could not work for the company. At the time, there were two people, one a vice president and one a manager (not on the same team/department, no managerial role between them) who were involved. Neither was married, neither interested in marrying the other, but on their lunch breaks they would sometimes duck out to a local sex club. People knew or suspected, but there wasn’t a fuss. Then the manager married a person from another office and one of them had to resign. The man in the couple decided that he’d have a better chance of getting a good job, so he resigned and moved to the city where his new wife was living and working.

    (Although no one ever made a fuss about the noon sex breaks, one time, when the man in the couple had his sister visiting, someone assumed she was someone he was dating and started some gossip about her being there. It had to be explained that she was his sister, not a romantic partner.)

    1. Feeling petty*

      I wasn’t expecting to read “Noon sex breaks” today, but here we are… and a microwave.

      1. econobiker*

        Book club memberships for reading discussions…
        Country club memberships for golf…
        Gym memberships for workouts…
        Rotary club memberships for networking…
        Sex club memberships for, well, the obvious….

  109. Anon for this*

    Well, I married a former co-worker and that marriage ended in divorce. Nothing disastrous, just run of the mill cheating/growing apart (cheating on spouse’s part, not mine, FTR).
    At my current employer, we had an issue where two co-workers who were dating each other got into a physical altercation at an off-site, company-sponsored event after drinking too much (think group attendance at a sporting event). The male employee was identified as the aggressor and was let go; the female employee, as far as I know, still works there.

  110. Jolly One*

    I live in the Bible Belt. Here, you can actually get a nicely paying job at a church. Many churches are ran like businesses. This particular church had several pastors, and most pastors had assistants/secretaries. I was a member of a church for over 5 years – I served as an usher for almost all of my time there. One pastor would really hammer down on sex outside the bounds of marriage, I mean everybody in the auditorium leaving feeling full of shame. I mean it was real hellfire and brimstone stuff.
    One random Sunday, this pastor announces he had fallen as a Christian, as he had been having an affair for 20 years, with his daughter in law. The daughter in law was also having relations with her brother in law. He stepped down from preaching.

    This is very rampant in churches here.

    Recently in the area, we had a preacher leave his wife of like 15 years for a congregant he was counseling after a breakup with her girlfriend. He leaves his wife and three kids. The guy had a past, and became a very influential preacher at a large church. Anyway, the guy goes with his 15 year junior new girlfriend to celebrate his birthday out of town, where he passed away after some relapse level drug use, and he ended up over dosing and dying. The girlfriend left his body at the vacation rental, and left town. She did actually end up calling 911, but only after she was hours away.

    1. BellyButton*

      Wow! Both stories are crazy. The first story made me think of Jim Baker scandal back in the 80s and him crying and begging for forgiveness.

      1. Jolly One*

        It happens a lot here, but the father in law & brother in law was quite salacious. The father and two brothers had support from the church, and the woman had to move to another town.

        The lady in the second situation is looked at as the devil reincarnated and being served “try doing that in a small town” justice. The locals’ battle cries for their beloved preacher and his wife are deafening. This really blew up after the preacher was arrested last month for punching the girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend in the face right out in open in the middle of down town. She (the mistress) has her own hair salon and was just about to start building a new salon. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

      2. Beth*

        Or the Weird Al song about Jerry Springer.

        “Honey, I’ve been sleeping with your sister.”

        “Me too! And I’ve also been sleeping with your pet goat!”

        “That goat doesn’t love you!”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mental golden retriever skidded to a halt and slid across the kitchen floor… Was the second affair with her husband’s brother or her sibling’s husband?

      I’m picturing father and son…neither of which she is married to…and it is breaking my brain.

  111. Not a camper*

    I started dating a colleague, and organizational policy was that we had to tell our department head, who was about a year out from retirement at the time. This was awkward enough (very strong vibes of having to ask dad’s permission), but in an attempt to be reassuring, department head told me, “Don’t worry, the department has had far more romantic scandals in the past.” (Which was a head scratcher, as my boyfriend and I were both single, consenting adults who didn’t think our relationship was a “romantic scandal” at all?) And then he continued, “You’re probably too young to remember when the Yankees had a wife-swapping scandal, but the department used to go on camping trips and have a bit of that…” I cannot remember what I said to extricate myself but did so as soon as possible. “Camping trip” took on a very loaded meaning among my work friends for a while afterward!

  112. Picked Beets*

    I was in the middle of getting a divorce and in my male-dominated industry, the vultures who realized I was available started swarming pretty quickly. I, being young and naive and distracted, did not initially register such regard as amorous in intent.

    That Valentine’s Day, I came in to find a Reese’s peanut butter heart on my desk and was terrified. My now-ex also worked in the same large organization, physical threats had been made, and a restraining order hadn’t yet been finalized.

    I was genuinely convinced the candy had been from my ex – either trying to get back together or poisoned, either was plausible at that point. After the fourth well-meaning coworker asked who my new beau was, only to hear my terror in response, another coworker confessed to leaving it for me.

    Oh. OH. I had not realized his interest.

    I also did not return his interest. I gave a sheepish thank you, avoided the coworker for several years out of awkwardness, and gave the safe-but-still-creepy-for-new-reasons candy to someone else.

  113. SwedishMeatballs*

    My partner of 14 years and I met when I went to interview for a job at a large Swedish furniture store known for its low cost and blue/yellow buildings. He worked store safety and security and happened to be sitting at the employee entrance desk and checked me in when I went for the interview. I was a single mom and really needed another job so I was nervous and he could tell. He tried to reassure me by saying that the manager I was interviewing with was probably more nervous about the interview than I was, which helped calm my nerves. I ended up getting the job and randomly running into all over the store the first month or two. We talked more at the holiday party and he asked me out. We started dating shortly thereafter. I couldn’t handle 2 jobs with a small child so quit after only 5 months, not long after found out I was pregnant and yada yada yada 14 years later we’ve built a life together with different jobs, a home and 2 amazing kids. Little did he know the girl who came in for the interview one random day in January would change his life!

  114. Jackie*

    It was exactly around this time back in 2002 that I had been dating my boyfriend (eventual husband) for a few weeks, after meeting on The dating websites were still pretty new with a good percentage of couples not admitting that’s how they had met. I had been single for a fairly long time, and as one of the few unattached people in my department my co-workers were always intensely interested in any aspect of my potential dating life, such as insisting on trying to fix me up with the perfect mate, often with less than stellar results. I kept quiet about my new love.

    I was in the OR doing a case (anes. nurse), when there was a call into the room that a co-worker was coming in to relieve me. Naturally I was puzzled when I was told to go to the break room for my “surprise”. When I arrived I immediately saw the absolutely gorgeous bouquet of red roses in a vase in the center of our lunch table, with some other colleagues crowded around exclaiming “Jackie! They are for you! Do you have a boyfriend!?”

    I was um…gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe he would “out” me like this. I stammered and said yes, that I was dating a special guy very recently, and it was such a new relationship that I had not wanted to mention it to anyone yet, especially since the co-worker who had set me up on the “Disaster Date From Hell” with her recently divorced brother was standing there too.

    There was a business sized envelope attached to the flowers, and it was weirdly thick. I opened it in front of everyone and started reading it. It was about 3 pages of writing, so odd, and I then I realized the roses were NOT from my boyfriend, but from a patient that I had taken care of a month earlier! It was a letter basically listing all of his good qualities as to why he would be a wonderful date, that even though his mom had brought him for surgery he wasn’t a “mama’s boy”, his financial status, home ownership, etc. ending with his phone numbers, and could he please take me out to dinner? OMG. So I had let the cat out of the bag myself about having a boyfriend…head smack.

    One of my co-workers, who was my mom’s age, then stepped up to admit that a guy had called the anes. department a few weeks earlier, and that she had answered the phone. He explained who he was, and then asked her if I was single. She told him YES, and he said good because he didn’t want to intrude if I had a boyfriend or husband. Something that she failed to mention to me, of course.

    I ended up taking the flowers home to my apartment, truthfully because our relationship was so new that I wanted BF to know that I had options in case he wasn’t serious about me. When he came over that evening he saw them, and I told him what had happened at work. We decided then to be exclusive, and the following day I did call my former patient to thank him for the roses, and to explain that I was indeed in a relationship – I had kept it under wraps at work and that’s why my co-worker had accidentally given him incorrect information about my availability. He was very gracious about it, and wished me well.

    It worked out well for me, but after reading so many crazy stories on this site I’m very grateful that he didn’t turn out to be a stalker.

    1. Former ER Nurse*

      I’m still shocked that your coworker would tell anyone your private details. I started as a RN in 2005, and even then we knew that it was ethically wrong to give out any details about our co-workers. Like I wouldn’t confirm if someone was going to be on for a shift much less that they were single. But then, I also worked in the ER for many years, so maybe slightly more paranoid?

      1. Jackie*

        When she admitted what she had done I could tell she was remorseful and upset for her error in judgment, so I didn’t report her or anything. I gave her a pass because as I mentioned she was the same age as my parents, there was no malicious intent on her part, and she apologized profusely.

  115. Anxious Bee*

    My parents met while they worked at a non-profit after school program for D.C children. The first day they actually had a full conversation was when they were both fired/laid off. Because of the nature of their work- room and board had been included. Luckily my dad’s parents lived near by so he had a place to crash. My mother did not. My dad loaned her a not insubstantial amount of money for first month and deposit on an apartment. Well, they fell in love and had a bit of a whirlwind romance and my dad wanted to propose within 6 months…. only problem was he couldn’t afford the engagement ring without my mom paying him back . I think my dad just straight up told her “I need you to pay me back sooner than agreed upon because I would like to marry you now please.” That sort of directness has kept them going for almost 40 years, and they’re still going strong!

  116. L*

    Many years ago, and a few years into my marriage, my husband was working as a stockbroker with a local firm. I decided to send a sexy Valentine’s card to him at work, detailing what i would like to do with him when he got home.

    Did not know that the company secretary opened ALL the mail, including “personal” because of some obscure SEC regulation . . . .

    He forgave me, but was mightily embarrassed.

  117. JustCallMeBerene*

    My mom was my boss at an unconventional part time seasonal theater thing (think cast members at a niche local theme park) for many years. “Fergus” also worked there as part of a different group, and we’d dated for a year then broken up but remained very close friends. Fergus requested to audition for my mom’s group, and my mom checked in with me first to make sure I’d be ok with him joining, which I was because we were cool and he would be a great fit for the group. Fergus joined the group, and he and I carpooled because we lived near each other. One day my mom’s boss, Jane, who was very fiery and didn’t have great judgement, saw us leaving together, and took my mom aside and lectured her about casting her daughter’s boyfriend how that if she had known Fergus and I were dating, Jane wouldn’t have let my mom bring him into the group. My mom assured her that we weren’t dating. When my mom later told me about the conversation, I was furious; this was fun performance gig that most people did in their spare time, some unpaid, primarily for the community aspect, people had always dated each other, in fact Jane herself was directly supervising her own husband and their three children in another group at the time, and being directly supervised by my mom had caused FAR more stress than working with Fergus would cause (a separate can of worms, but nobody had ever suggested my mom and I shouldn’t work together as a result.) I was also disproportionately upset that my mom/boss hadn’t followed up “they’re not dating” with “and if they were I would trust them to handle it without disruption”, in hindsight because I was very much hoping that Fergus and I WOULD be dating again at some point, and didn’t want that to mean one or both of us would have to leave the group. Anyway, Fergus was a great addition to the group and the season went off without any drama. The following year I was invited to sit in on an HR training for higher ups, including my mom and Jane, with an external HR consultant. At one point he asked for questions and I raised my hand and said, “Yes. If I have someone apply to be in my group who I happen to know is dating another group member, can I exclude them from my group on that basis even though I have no reason to suspect either of them will behave unprofessionally? Bearing in mind that this is a family business where many people already work with their partners or spouses or even supervise them directly, and there is no policy forbidding this.” And the HR consultant of course said no, if you want to exclude that person you’d have to find another reason. Jane later complimented me for “raising such important and thoughtful questions” and when Fergus and I eventually DID start dating again a couple years later, there was not a peep out of Jane, even when we both had to unexpectedly miss the same handful of performances due to a death in Fergus’ family. We’re now still happily together and have a house and a child; we no longer perform at the theme park, mostly due first to COVID then being busy parenting, but also because we REALLY don’t miss working with Jane.

  118. New Jack Karyn*

    Funny thing is, the candidate being interviewed had a great answer in that story! “I started dating a coworker, and it became obvious that the dynamic wasn’t working. I thought hard about the ethics of the situation, and the best approach, and chose to find a new job.”

    That frames it as, when conflict arose, he seriously considered what was right, what actions were on the table, and made a decision. Not just stumbling into conflict and then trying to weasel out of it.

  119. Hera the Mad-eyed Cat*

    So, my first job out of college, I worked for a company that tried to organise the diaries of freelance classical musicians (handy hint, you can’t!). For 5 1/2 years, spoke to one on a regular, but generally business basis. He was the company favourite as he understood if we were hungover on a Sunday morning and would be gentle. It was a fantastic job, got lots of free tickets and musicians definitely know how to party after a concert.

    In 2000, I happened to answer the phone to him. Not work related, he had a spare ticket for a Prom and wondered if any of us wanted it. It happened to be my favourite composer, so I accepted. I fully expected it to be the usual: meet for a drink beforehand, enjoy some fabulous music, few too many afterwards and run for the last train.

    Met him in the pub and love at first sight and I kind of never went home again. 29 years since I first spoke to him and 24 years since I actually met him, we’re very happily married. But I still can’t organise him!

      1. Hera the Mad-eyed Cat*

        Ha ha! Excellent. He’s a trombone player, so not quite the same romantic vibes…

    1. So many questions*

      This is very cute and I love it!!! I do have a question, when you say diaries, do you mean the kind that people journal in every night? Or their schedules? Or?

      1. Hera the Mad-eyed Cat*

        Their schedules. We had the power to make decisions about which work they would accept if offered. But most of them didn’t keep them up to date, so it was always a bit of a crapshoot!

    2. iglwif*

      Awwwwwwwww!!! What a lovely story!!

      And lmao at the very idea of organizing the diaries of freelance classical musicians. Talk about a business plan representing the triumph of hope over experience!

  120. BlueberryGirl*

    When I was in grad school, I worked at a pretty prestigious special library as a student assistant. Another student assistant, Jane, and a staff member, Fergus, started having an affair- she was married, he was not. It was pretty obvious this was happening- lots of giggling, touch, etc. Made everyone super uncomfortable, but wasn’t technically violating any policies. Now, we were a library and because of the nature of our collections, we were a secure space and there were cameras throughout our stacks area. One day, someone went back to a rarely used staircase and discovered Susan and Fergus in the midst of a passionate make-out session. Clothing was on, but hands were not fully visible. Later, a review of the security cameras showed many many times they’d both swiped through that door in rapid sequence. Needless to say, the department head had them both reassigned to different departments where they would not be working together. Last I heard, they were married.

  121. LisaD*

    When I worked at Petco, a cashier and sales associate started sleeping together and ended up collaborating to stage a robbery, complete with her at the register screaming and him dashing outside to “chase” the suspect, who “leaped a fence and vanished” with all the cash that had been in the register. They both gave a detailed description to the police sketch artist.

    Luckily for young love, all the “cameras” in the store were dummies, so there was never any proof, aside from the lack of footprints in the snow on the other side of the fence. They kept their jobs and the couple hundred bucks. Though he got transferred to another store, so I doubt the sleeping together lasted.

  122. Minimal Pear*

    When I was in college, I got into a new hobby, and part of it involved going regularly to a local hobby shop–at least once a month. Almost every time I went, the same cashier was working there. It was the kind of store where the workers are also in the hobby, and it’s not super fast paced, so it was common for workers and staff members to chat. I loved taking to this one cashier! She was funny and interesting and smart–and gorgeous! Of course, I was very conscious of the fact that I shouldn’t be overly friendly with someone who was working, because she had to be nice to me and couldn’t just leave. But it was hard to do that because I enjoyed talking to her so much! Still, I definitely shouldn’t bother her too much and I REALLY shouldn’t flirt with her.
    I was so worried about not flirting with her that it took me… maybe two or three months to realize that she had been flirting with me the whole time.
    We’ve actually been dancing around each other for almost a decade now due to a number of external factors as well as executive dysfunction. But I am hoping to change that next week when I see her!

  123. Iconic Bloomingdale*

    At my old job, my husband would send me beautiful 2 dozen long stem red rose arrangements on Valentine’s Day, so I could display them on my desk. My female coworkers would see them, come by to remark on how beautiful they were and compliment my husband on how sweet he is. This happened every year.

    At my current job, we are on a hybrid schedule, so hubby no longer does this. He now has the Valentine’s Day roses delivered to our home.

    However, back to old job…one night, the lovin’ was pretty sweet and the next day at work (it wasn’t Valentine’s Day) I got a call from the reception desk that I had a delivery. The receptionist was a male officer who had a reputation for making irreverent and inappropriate comments at times. It was a law enforcement agency back in the early 2000’s and sometimes, the environment could be quite raucous and raunchy in terms of language (and behavior).

    Anyway, I went to the reception desk and the officer handed me the delivery of a vase with 2 dozen beautiful long stemmed red roses from hubby. And without missing a beat he said loudly, “Damn, that ass must have been good last night!” I was so taken aback – I started blushing and I had a look of embarrassment/probably horror on my face. Basically, my reaction confirmed what he said and then we both started laughing.

    After a moment, I turned around face still ablaze, walked back to my desk and nothing more was said after that!

  124. Sabrina*

    I will never get over my coworkers who were having an affair and got caught by the lady’s husband, also an employee, because they decided to hold hands at an all staff meeting.

  125. Dawn*

    Everyone at my old office was on FetLife and this was an open secret.

    I just really can’t add anything to that. Everyone at the office was on FetLife and had each other in their network there.

    It was a construction-oriented call centre, y’all.

    1. BellyButton*

      I think call centers are way up there on the list of workplaces for drama and work place “romances”

  126. I have the tea*

    This one happened just after I left –

    My former boss had an affair (she was married at the time) with a new guy on a different team and a lower level (but they were around the same age). I found out later that EVERYONE knew about it, and the guy ended up blasted her on Twitter because he wanted kids and everything with her, and while she divorced her husband I don’t think she officially got with the affair guy. She ended up leaving a few months after. Again, this guy started right after I left and this all happened in the span of 3-4 months. He stayed with the company.

    This happened before I got there –

    A director/VP level man had an affair with a younger junior colleague. They ended up getting married and having kids. But I heard later on, at the time people had a hard time with it. The junior colleague also was the one to leave while the man stayed.

  127. Elle Woods*

    I used to be in higher ed and have heard a plethora of stories about professors cheating on their spouses and/or dating students over the years. The worst one to me though was the professor (“Brad”) whose wife (“Jennifer”) worked in a different department. Jennifer thought their marriage was solid until she got a call from the department chair at a different university asking if she would be joining her husband at his new university. Turns out Brad had accepted a job at a different university–halfway across the country–and hadn’t even told his wife about it. To make matters worse, she was served with divorce papers a couple of hours later during her office hours.

    1. Leia Oregano*

      I was a spring transfer to the university I graduated from and now work for, and I started here one January. My very first class was a huge gen ed lecture in a hard-to-find room. I was lost and almost late, which was awkward since it was the spring semester and everyone else knew where they were going, but finally found it and took a seat. Within about 30 seconds of the professor talking, I pegged him as a self-absorbed asshole — and also clocked the doe eyes being shared between him and his TA. I dropped that class for a variety of reasons and happily enrolled in a different class, where I loved the professor and she was super supportive and ended up helping me gain the confidence to change my major. I quite literally would not be where I am today without one coffee meeting we had on campus.

      A couple years after I graduated, I hear through the grapevine that the first professor has been fired from the university for allegedly sexually harassing his TAs — one in particular, known as Jane Doe, filed a Title IX complaint, which lead to his downfall and firing despite his tenure. There were articles and everything (which appear to have since been deleted, alas, because they were highly vindicating of my gut instinct). THEN, he sued for wrongful termination!! The case was ultimately thrown out and I have no clue what he does these days. According to the uni’s community on reddit as all of this was going on, he was known for sleeping with his TAs and had for as long as he worked here, and it was a badly kept secret within the students of that department. I wish Jane all the best, wherever she is, and I hope this professor rots like the trash he is.

  128. Two Fluffy*

    When I was in my early 20s, I decided to spend a summer doing volunteer work. I looked up some organizations I was interested in and contacted on run by a family. They were going to be at an event that coming weekend so they said I could come to the event and help out. When I got there, various family members were helping (cousins, aunts, etc). At one point in the day, the son arrived to help. He walked in and when he saw me, he told his mom “that’s my future wife.” His parents laughed a bit (I had no idea about any of this). Then they sent us on errands together—ostensibly so he could help me do some heavy lifting or something. I thought he was super awkward but dear and sweet. Eventually, he warmed up and we hit it off. We were married a year later. We’ve been together 20 years now.

  129. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    The summer I spent working for the cult…

    Peer #1 was hired a week or so before Peer #2. They seemed to have some chemistry; we all spent the breaks together in the break room (with only 15 minutes, there was nowhere to go. Being paid minimum wage, we had nothing to spend, and our hours were intentionally kept low enough that we didn’t qualify for a lunch break). After a few weeks of this, seeming to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, #1 asked #2 to a date the following week, and #2 accepted. It was something innocuous, like McDonald’s and a second-run movie. There were a good dozen of us in the vicinity when it happened, including Peers #3 and #4. All smiles everywhere.

    Well, Wednesday came and #1 no-call-no-showed. We never saw him again. #2 no-call-no-showed on Friday. We never saw her again.

    On my final day, three months later, I finally learned what happened.
    On that Tuesday, #1 had asked #2 if he should pick her up or meet her somewhere and she ignored him. Thinking she hadn’t heard him, he asked her again at the end of her shift, and still ignoring him, she went to HR and filed a sexual harassment to break the date. We plebs weren’t worth the time or trouble to figure out, so HR just called #1 after hours, told him his services were no longer necessary, and they’d mail him his last cheque.

    Peer #3 took exception to this, so she went to HR set the story straight. So #2 was also now more trouble than any of us were worth, and HR dismissed her in the exact same fashion for filing a fraudulent claim. #4 got drug into it as a witness.

    #3 had her hours cut for meddling. She ended up getting a job across the street because she was no longer making enough to cover gasoline to and from work.

    #4 put in her notice the following week to go work at the aforementioned McDonald’s.

  130. Peon*

    I married my office romance. It’ll be 20 years come this October. He still does my tech support lol.

  131. Gritsy Girl*

    My first job after college, I worked as a computer programmer for a defense contractor that no longer exists. Computer folks were doled out to various projects as needed, then moved on when the project finished.

    At the end of one project where I worked w/ ‘Tina’ who had been a “popular girl” all her life — personality-wise she was 180° off most techs and engineers in the place, pretty sure the lure of money was what got her into the business — I told her that where she was assigned next had one guy ‘Joe’ that she’d really enjoy working with. He also had a non-tech personality, had almost gone into baseball as a career. After a few weeks we ran into each other and she said, “I thought you had to be exaggerating when you told me about Joe. I really, REALLY like him.” Then they started going out of the building to lunch together. Assumptions were made when people did that, whether or not it was true. I was mortified; Joe was only 5 years married and had just welcomed his first child into the world. Yenta-ing was NOT my intent; I was just trying to reassure her that she’d be working with a fun group.

    Our portion of the company was dissolved and she ended up working for the accounting area. One day I met her again, sporting a HUGE engagement diamond. SHE WAS ENGAGED TO JOE’S BROTHER. Awk.ward in So. Many. Ways.

    I was not invited to the wedding. Pity; it would have been a very entertaining evening.

    Still later but within 5 years, I ran into Tina yet again and was told they’d gotten a divorce. I figured it was for a massive infidelity reason, but no — he’d come down with colon cancer, and apparently she couldn’t handle the stress, etc. of being a caretaker. I do not disparage the stress of being a cancer patient’s S.O.; I had a round myself and Hubs did not have a good time. But knowing her as well as I did, I’m pretty sure she just couldn’t handle the attention not being about her.

    I have no idea if/how long Joe’s Brother survived. Tina had already landed on her feet and gone on her merry way. At least the last I heard, Joe and his wife were still together…

  132. Rage*

    Back in September 2023, I started seeing a guy who – weirdly enough – I haven’t tossed out on his ear yet. So I went from “12 years independently owned and operated” to “bought out by a competitor and I don’t hate it”.

    In October, he sent me a box of Sherrie’s Berries – gigantic chocolate covered strawberries. My office mates have been making googly eyes at me since then. He’s not a coworker (I have a pretty firm boundary on that), but I think my cube-neighbors are anticipating next week, curious as to what he will send me.

  133. Serious silly putty*

    Someone from another department put out feelers to my office mate to see if I might be interested in going out. She relayed that I wasn’t. Not long after, a friend of hers that I’d met at her party did similarly. It should be noted that this kind of attention isn’t typical for me, as I’m neither flirty nor traditionally “hot”… I’m just friendly to everyone, including socially awkward guys.
    Anyway neither guy did anything inappropriate. I mention this just because I liked my office mate’s response. She got everyone Giant Microbes for Christmas, and she gave me Mono (which had cutesy eyelashes).

  134. Typing All The Time*

    I briefly dated a fellow employee in another department. Our chemistry is strong and one night I made the mistake of making out with him in our parking lot after work. The company windows face the parking lot and we forgot that one department is seated right in front of them. We got an earful of gossip afterwards. Plus the company was so small, everyone knew our business. He broke things off with me but we’re still somewhat friends (both of us left old job a decade ago).

  135. BecauseHigherEd*

    Years ago, I worked for a nonprofit where the CEO had been forced to resign due to some secretive, bizarre political machinations (still don’t know all of the details). I think the board felt pressured to hire someone and to hire fast, but given all that had happened, not many people were clamoring for the CEO job.

    One woman who applied was perfect in almost every way. Articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable about how industry, nonprofit, and government worked together, etc. However, she had a prominent position in state government and resigned after she (married) began having an affair with her (married) boss. Her boss eventually was fired for some sort of financial misconduct, if I remember correctly. They were now married. So, there was some question about whether we wanted our foundering organization to assume some of that baggage.

    Both finalists for the position were asked by the Board to give a presentation to our staff about their vision for the organization. She of the public affair was one of the finalists; the other was a woman who was looking to make the move from for-profit to non-profit work. As she stood in front of our office, she said, “I know you all have been under immense pressure and strain. Transitions are hard, and they can take a tremendous toll on those involved.” We all perked up–this was the first time anyone had ever acknowledged what we as staff had been going through. She went on, “I recently went through a divorce, and I think it’s given me a good idea of how you’re feeling–betrayed, confused, angry, sad…” This continued for several minutes. I’m all for being human and I understand divorce is hard but…it was a lot.

    In the choice between the divorcee who slept with and then married her disgraced boss and the divorcee who was transitioning into the nonprofit sector, the Board hired the former. She promptly laid everyone off.

  136. Anonymous in new england*

    Going incognito here because it is not my story to tell. My late husband cooked at a restaurant/tavern in the late 80s (during what would now be called a gap year.)

    There was a holiday party for the staff, there was a cute new waitress who had been flirting with him, and there was a dimly lit dance floor. There was a sturdy counter where they leaned for some serious smooching. Unfortunately there was also a puddle of ketchup, a white dress, and a 19yo boy so intent on kissing her that he didn’t realize he was smearing it up and down her back.

    (I never did find out if they dated after that fiasco of a start!)

  137. AMY*

    My friend once was very interested in a guy we worked with, and he really liked her too. They flirted for what felt like months. Both were very respectful, and cautious. They had discussions about getting into a workplace relationship. They told their respective supervisors they were planning to start dating outside of work. They both agreed no matter what happened, things would not get awkward, etc. They had full on negotiations and discussions for weeks before finally going out on a Saturday night.

    Come Monday morning, it was awkward as all heck. They were no longer speaking. The frost in the air was palpable. Drawers were slammed. Long detours were taken around each other’s workspace. After all that setting the ground rules up front! I vowed I would never get involved with a co-worker. If those two crazy kids couldn’t make it, who could?

  138. Name (Required)*

    I used to work in a wildly licentious industry where every trade show, conference, meeting, lunch hour or, like, Tuesday afternoon was an eagerly seized-upon opportunity to step outside one’s marriage.

    My favorite is the woman who was pushed out of her husband’s company after he cheated on her at one of those aforementioned events/their subsequent divorce, started her own company AND regional association in the same industry out of pure spite, handily eclipsed his business until he sold it and exited the industry entirely, and then issued an absolutely beautiful press release when she got remarried to someone else in the industry. (My runner-up favorite is the still-anonymous group who started an industry advice column almost exclusively to throw shade at whoever most egregiously misbehaved at an event, calling out how unprofessional that behavior is with both thinly veiled and sharply pointed examples.)

    1. Expelliarmus*

      She married someone else in a notoriously philanderous (is that a word? Well it is now) industry? That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but here’s hoping it’s not.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        She’s the main character in a series about her writing her colum: Merger, She Wrote.

    2. Autofill Contact*

      I used to work in a field where higher ed, government, and private industry (mostly engineers) regularly interact. The private industry faction is well known for drunken debauchery and infidelity. Out of plenty of skeevy interactions at conferences, the one that sticks in my mind is the principal from one firm who told me to let him know if I ever wanted to come to the “dark side” (which I realized later was half a job offer and half a sexual overture).

  139. Slartibartfast*

    I had a coworker get asked out via a fish bouquet. If you’re familiar with Earnest T from the Andy Griffith Show, it’s a good comparison. He brought in a basket of fresh fried catfish he’d caught and prepared himself, still hot. She gently declined the invitation.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Same, I’m not usually into guys but I’m very interested in delicious homecooked food.

    1. Dragonfly7*

      If someone went to the length to understand and accommodate my complicated food allergy right off the bat, this would work on me, too.

  140. Jonathan MacKay*

    My grandparents didn’t meet at work – but did work at the same place – General Electric, (In the early 50’s there was a factory in town – it’s now a desolate concrete field that has been up for sale at least as long as I have been alive) He was an electrical engineer, and I believe, also the shop foreman, and she worked in administration – it was well known that they were married, and they lived about 3 blocks away from the factory, on the other side of a major highway.

    How they met though, that’s a family legend, because we know the general story, but the exact specifics they kept to themselves.

    Toronto Union Station, my grandmother had come up from Michigan to visit family and friends who had moved to Canada, and my grandfather was travelling with his hockey team. Apparently, they had identical looking suitcases, so my grandfather grabbed what he thought was his, and my grandmother noticed that this guy was walking off with her bag… she went over and confronted him, (And this is where they’ve kept the specifics to themselves, because we ALL wanted to know what exactly she said!) retrieved her bag, and left him commenting to his teammates something along the lines of “Wow, that’s the woman I’m going to marry!”

    68 years later, it was only death that parted them, 32 days apart.

  141. Ollie*

    I met and married a guy at work. We both were in computer hardware repair. He was great at it and worked his way up to regional support. I was mediocre and wasn’t getting anywhere. In fact the smell of burning electronics still gives me touch of PTSD. Then my boss needed someone to train for software programming and asked me to take it on. I did and was very very good at it. In fact I spent the rest of my career until retirement doing it. I was soon promoted to regional support and that was the end of that marriage. He always thought he was better than me and he was wrong. Now happily married to a guy who works in a completely different field.

  142. Ghostie*

    Many years ago, I ran a modified triathalon. It was a lot of training and work, and I was excited about it. On the day, my husband came with me, and I was hoping he’d be there to cheer me on. He had other ideas, and asked if he could bring a book to read. He didn’t quite get what it meant to me.

    When we arrived, he saw all of the homemade signs and banners that other spouses and children had made for the participants, and it all clicked for him.

    He felt so bad after, that he ordered a balloon and flower bouquet to my office for the next week. A big mylar balloon with “Congratulations!” written on it, surrounded by ….pastel pink and pastel blue balloons. I fought off pregnancy rumours for weeks afterwards.

  143. Ghostess*

    I was chatting with someone at work that I was sweet on, and was fidgeting with my chair.
    In the middle of the conversation I accidentally hit the lever that made it go STRAIGHT DOWN and then, without a word, had to slowly press the lever again and again to get it to a normal height.

    I ended up dating that person for years, and ended up moving in with them. But I didn’t want my co-workers knowing because it was a small workplace, so I spent YEARS hiding it. We would walk to work together, but then one of us would stop a few blocks away and let the other one walk into work on their own. Then, a while later, the person who waited behind would show up as though they were arriving from somewhere else. We did this routine for years. Eventually we both got different jobs, and split up years later, but I am still impressed that I went to that much trouble to hide my personal life from coworkers. YOU DO NOT PAY ME ENOUGH TO KNOW ABOUT MY ROMANCE THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  144. tjamls*

    Coming out of my divorce, a coworker expressed his interest (to my surprise) when I became single. I’d previously seen that the website for his upcoming wedding had switched from a set date to TBD, so I assumed they’d broken up. Well, you know what they say about assuming. Turns out, they’d gotten secret pandemic married instead. So not only did I stupidly dip my pen in company ink, I dipped my pen in married company ink. I feel so much guilt, and I hold out hope that he wants to get a new job.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      HE was the lying liar that lied (and cheated) and you have nothing to feel guilty for!

  145. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    Personal Assistant Girlfriend: “and so had the office microwave” knocked me flat.

  146. Abundant Shrimp*

    Came to this comment section to post a long, juicy story of my married boss dating my also married teammate, who then left him for an also married guy in sales, but here’s a slightly less revolting and more adorable one.

    At my next job (that I took to escape the abovementioned drama) we got hit by the I Love You virus. It being a software company, everyone knew not to open the email. Except for one guy who apparently was dying to know who loved him. Opened the email and gave the virus to the entire (small) company. This story would’ve been even more adorable if he wasn’t married, so I don’t know what went through his head when he got the email and went “aww she loves me! Let me see it in detail.”

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Yep, I only was at that job for a few months from late 99 to early 00. It may have happened soon enough after I left that I was still talking to people there and they told me.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Happy to share! (long read incoming) In my first US job, I had a boss who was in a loveless marriage, suspected his wife of cheating, and was unbeknownst to me actively looking for some strange. I knew nothing about any of it when I came to that man for advice. I was in a bad marriage too, and had developed an office crush on my team lead/this boss’s best friend, the crush somehow figured it out and started avoiding me, and entry-level me was afraid this would cause me to lose my job, as this lead had a lot of power in the company. Boss (let’s call him TJ here) said that he’d help me, and also offered to be my “special friend” and to “show me America”. To that end we started going out and hanging out after work once a week. Took several months and a job change on his end for him to finally proposition me. I said no and continued to say no after he poached me and I started working for him again. Then he got tired of hearing no and got very “special-friendly” with another woman he’d hired, “Amy”. He made a point of being seen hanging and going out with me in the office, to throw everyone off the scent. I was later told by a coworker that no one had bought it for a minute and everyone knew he was banging Amy like a screen door in the wind. TJ was still friends with me and would tell me about their dates and once showed me Amy’s sex face and imitated her sex sounds while he and I were having lunch. (….. no words)

        I changed jobs and left that second company after working there 18 months. TJ called me at home a few months later and was sobbing into the phone. Amy had asked him to go out for lunch saying they needed to talk. Over lunch, she said she was in love and could not go on having sex with TJ anymore, because that would be cheating on Jim. Jim (name not changed, because wtf, Jim) was a guy in sales. Everyone in this story (me included) was married and had kids. Jim had five!

        I don’t remember how the rest of it unfolded. Several years later, I got a call from Amy, saying that TJ’s wife, whom we’d both met, had just died from her 3rd bout of cancer, and giving me TJ’s new cell number so I could call with my condolences, which I did. TJ answered the call with “this is wild, I’m standing here phone in one hand, her ashes in the other” and within five minutes, pivoted to “Wanna start seeing each other again? I have more time now” I said “(my then-husband) is still alive, so no” and ended the call. Blocked TJ on everything I could and spent the next few years hiding from him in grocery stores, then he stopped coming to my area for groceries and I finally and thankfully lost track of TJ. I heard he’d remarried. No clue what happened to Amy. My crush, who acted as a catalyst to this whole sh!tshow, is now married with two kids living out in the country. No idea where Jim is, he was an older guy already in his 50s at the time of it all happening, which was 25 years ago, hope he’s still with us as he had heart troubles even then (in the quadruple bypass sense, not in the romantic sense, though that too). I am single and happy with a new to me old toothless cat who I named Keith! The end :) oh wait THERE IS MORE –

        Remember how TJ was suspecting his wife of cheating? Well one evening when he and I were hanging out, he randomly stopped by the bowling alley where she was playing on a mixed couples league, to say hi to her and to also introduce me to her bowling partner, who he’d suspected she was cheating with. My spoken English was not great at the time and I greeted the partner with “I heard everything about you!” Got a lecture from TJ the next day. Apparently he came home that night to a 3rd degree about what exactly he’d told me about the guy. SIR IF YOU ARE STILL ALIVE AND READING THIS, HE ONLY TOLD ME ABOUT YOUR 300 GAME AND YOUR BOWLING RING THATS ALL. i only meant to say that I knew he’d bowled a 300, apparently there was more. Not holding that against TJ’s wife for a minute, she was stuck in a marriage to TJ and she and I had always liked each other. I hope that there’s a heaven and she’s looking down from it now, cackling as she reads this story.

  147. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Not exactly romance, but early on at my job working for Awful Corp., I heard my coworkers talking about “another Awful Corp. marriage.” Me, blissfully unaware at that point, said, “Oh, they met at work?” Hahaha, no, “Awful Corp. marriages were how they referred to people who got divorced or broke up because of the stress the job put on their relationship.

    I too ended up with an Awful Corp. marriage!

  148. Immortal for a limited time*

    Fair warning: This story has an “ick” factor, which is why it has stubbornly persisted in my memory for decades. I worked at a daily newspaper as one of 5 or 6 typesetters. One of our more recent hires was a single woman in her 30s or early 40s. I’ll call her Joy. She was a quirky “hippie”-type who didn’t seem to have much of a filter. After she’d worked with us for a few months she acquired a boyfriend, “Bob,” whom we all met at the company picnic or Christmas party or something. He came across as equally, well, “free-spirited.” They seemed to be a good match. In those days (late 80s), type was set using specialized computer terminals and software used exclusively in the publishing world. Our desks were arranged in a circle and as we spent our day formatting copy, laying out ads, etc., we’d chitchat. Someone asked Joy how her boyfriend was. She said, “Oh, he’s great! But I’m not feeling that well” (making a face like her stomach was upset). Someone said, Oh, why? I’ll never forget her matter-of-fact response: “I think Bob has a high protein content.” You could have heard a pin drop as the rest of us looked at her, then at each other as we processed what she might have meant by that comment. Someone very quickly changed the subject and I doubt any of us ever asked how things were going with Bob again.

  149. Fleabag's Inner Monologue*

    This kind of counts as workplace romance: as a broke artist in my twenties, I signed up for a gig as a medical guinea pig as a testing centre. There were about thirty of us, and we had to do three day stints sleeping over at the centre while nurses monitored our reactions to the drugs, a couple times a month for a few months. One of the other participants was a guy from my neighbourhood who I’d always thought was cute, and we started talking over our mandatory applesauce snack one evening. He ended up being from hometown from across the country, and we’d gone to both the same high scool and university (same major!) several years apart, without ever having met.
    The whole experience was totally bizarre – grey clinic, bland food, blood draws, nurses calling us by numbers instead of names – but also weirdly romantic, and we were together for about a year after the study was over.

  150. Alison O*

    Office romances seem to run in my family:
    – My grandparents met on a military training base during WWII (ok, not exactly an office but it was work for them!)
    – My parents met at the office – my mum let my dad in when he forgot his swipe card
    – My sister and her husband met at the office where she worked during her gap year
    Luckily for us these are all success stories!

  151. NewNameWhoThis*

    Ok I have to share the cutest work couple I ever knew, P and N. Middle aged, friendly, professional people, kinda frumpy. Different last names. In the office, you would never know they were married. BUT when they walked between buildings on the campus, they would hold hands. And one day, there was an unexpected torrential downpour right at the end of the workday. Umbrella-less staff hovered near the exit, trying to decide whether to make a run for it down the 50 yard walkway to the parking lot or wait it out. Suddenly, out of the curtain of rain bursts a car, P behind the wheel. He parks on the bricks in front of the exit, hops out, runs around, and opens the passenger door. N scurries out and hops in, and they roll off, over the curb and into legend. *(no walkways or pedestrians were harmed in the making of this adorableness)

  152. JustaTech*

    This is the story of the one romance in my first job, or how I learned that it’s a bad idea to date coworkers.

    At my first lab there were two groups sharing one lab (so, same physical space and equipment, two completely separate reporting structures). In each lab there was one very cool and hip person – a dude in my lab who wore band t-shirts and was pretty aloof, and a gal in the other lab who was friendly and vivacious.
    Just before his 30th birthday they started dating. (A bunch of us went to Hooters for his birthday, which was weird but made weirder by the fact that the only other people in the restaurant was a kid there for his 8th birthday, taken by his aunts. It was painfully PG.)
    Dude had a lot of feelings about turning 30, so he decided to celebrate for a whole week, which happened to include the Gal’s birthday as well. Her birthday comes and he doesn’t want to go out with her friends, but also doesn’t want *her* to go out with her friends, which she felt was entirely too controlling. (Reasonable.)
    So he responds by getting *wasted* on a Thursday night and coming by her apartment screaming and shouting and *peed on her door*. Yup, a grown man with a science degree responded to “I don’t want to go out on work night” by urinating on someone’s door.
    Very mature.
    So the next day he doesn’t come into work at all (he sat at the bench next to me) and Gal tells everyone about it and we all commiserate.
    On Tuesday of the next week I get an email from Dude saying I shouldn’t believe everything Gal says and I should “know who my friends are”.
    Dude – you can barely remember that I exist long enough to be professional with me, you’re so *not* my friend.

    He left not long after to parts unknown and was not missed.

    Moral of the story? If you’re going to date people at work, make sure that you can break up gracefully, or at least without public urination.

  153. AlaskaManager*

    A few years back, I was working at a successful, growing software company. The employee base skewed young and wealthy, and socialized outside of work, around bars, concerts, mountain biking, ski vacations, etc.

    The gender ratio wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t balanced. When an attractive woman joined, there would often be an unhealthy amount of romantic interest from various men. I’m not aware of any inappropriate behaviour happening at work, other than one guy who was summarily fired in his probationary period, but there was certainly a lot of pent-up tension.

    Anyway, one of these attractive women, A, after many romantic offers, ended up dating B. They were both professional & discreet at work, and didn’t work directly together but were in a small enough department that they weren’t too far apart.

    Fast forward a few years, and they were going pretty solid, and everyone was happy for them. They took vacations together a few times, and eventually a longer romantic vacation in Italy.

    He proposed. She said no.

    They still had to go back to work together, for a brief painful period until he transferred to another continent.

    Last I heard, she was in a long-term relationship with another former colleague.

  154. Heffalump*

    I once saw a website that had the following business model. If you had a crush on a coworker, you signed up for the website and gave them your coworker’s email. Then the site would send them an “a coworker has a crush on you” email. Naturally, the coworker had to sign up with the site, for a fee, to find out who their admirer was.

    I became aware of this because I got one of these emails. I couldn’t think of any woman at my then job who’d ever shown the slightest sign of having a crush on me. I concluded that either: (1) a coworker did have a crush on me and I was very obtuse; (2) a coworker did have a crush on me and was playing her cards close to the vest; (3) the whole thing was a scam.

    I went with (3).

  155. Eff Walsingham*

    Years ago I worked as a receptionist for a business that was almost entirely staffed by people from another culture, one that commonly features arranged marriages. The shift I worked was sometimes very slow and usually minimally staffed, and sometimes we would fall into conversations where colleagues (usually older and male) would ask me sincere questions about North American dating culture. Some of them were fathers, and seemed to want insight into what their kids would encounter as they got older. I particularly remember one sweet older gentleman saying in a tone of concern, “How do you know that your parents love you, if they don’t secure your future by making you a good match?” Possibly I should note that I was over 30 by then, and still single, and neither I nor my parents would have been completely astonished if I had never married.

    My boss traveled annually to his country of origin for charitable initiatives, was widely respected there, and had a huge network. He would often ask me if I would like to marry a respectable professional man of my age, and offer to make it happen. I was touched (sorta), but in hindsight I think I probably rushed into my next relationship (with a disreputable local tradesman from a similar background as myself) so that my colleagues would stop fretting and my boss would stop threatening to find me a husband!

    I really think he meant it for my benefit… it is a sought-after profession, and these guys could get into Canada without being married to a citizen. But yeah, when people asked me if my job had benefits, I sometimes said, “Errr, not the usual ones!”

  156. Pinky Blinky*

    My friend T was a Manager. Part of his job was going around to local businesses selling whatever. Sometimes he would take his Assistant S. HR was called because other employees witnessed T and S pull out of their parking lot, drive behind the retailer across the street, and park for 30 minutes or so.

    T got called in HR and had to explain that no, he and S were not having relations during work hours, both were smokers and didn’t want the staff to know.

  157. former stubborn child*

    When I was growing up, my dad worked at a hospital that had a nearby park as part of its property. He and some coworkers had a weekly volleyball match at this park. There was also a walking loop that had sort of obstacle course activities spaced at regular intervals, like monkey bars and such.
    Sometimes he would bring me to volleyball with him. Afterwards we would walk the loop and I would do the obstacle course as much as I could as a small child. One week, my dad REALLY wanted to skip one of the activities. There was a man and a woman sitting at a bench right underneath something I had to climb over, but I wasn’t paying attention to them. I absolutely INSISTED on doing EVERY activity.
    Years later he told me that the man and the woman were having an affair. They were both married to other people. (The affair was common knowledge at work but everyone pretended they didn’t know.) The couple had gone to the park to make out and my dad had to stand there awkwardly with them while I did my climbing. He was absolutely mortified.

  158. No Valentine for me!*

    One of our paralegals, Rachel, was dating a partner in our firm, Ross. They basically lived together and while Ross was in the shower his phone rang. Thinking it was a client, Rachel checked his phone only to find it was his other girlfriend, Monica, who happened to be a client as well. The Ross and Rachel breakup played out in the office for weeks. No screaming or crying, but petty things, including missing emails, wrong case information, last minute schedule changes to ice each other out, and once he brought a different girlfriend (not Rachel or Monica) to a company event Rachel was attending. Neither was fired, but he actively avoided our office, which made life hard for everyone. Cases were delayed, motions were messed up, and one ethics charge was filed and dismissed! Rachel eventually quit, and Ross was arrested for some questionable behavior which led to him finally being removed as partner. Monica however is still a client. We see Ross on occasion and he always stops to chat, it’s uncomfortable for everyone.

  159. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

    Oh, I just thought of a crazy one. My high school district had two orchestra teachers. One was male and married, and one was female and unmarried. We students assumed that, given that there was a man and a woman working closely together, they MUST be interested in each other. Or at least one of them must have a crush on the other. Never mind that one of them was married. You know how kids talk–nobody loves drama, or even the idea of drama, more than high schoolers.

    My junior year, the male orchestra teacher’s wife tragically died of ovarian cancer. By the time I was a freshman or sophomore in college, the male and female teachers were married!

    Now I wish I could time travel back to orchestra with my adult eyes and brain. Was there something there that we kids really did pick up on?! Or did it all develop afterwards? I don’t know, but the possibilities range from adorable to extremely icky.

  160. Owlette*

    In a previous workplace, someone in my department dated someone else on the workshop floor for YEARS without either of them telling anyone. They had met at work and everything. We found out when she came back from holidays with a wedding ring and told us who her wife was!

  161. Sam_Pull*

    A bitter sweet story:

    My first job out of college was with a small insurance company and I started dating a charming lady in a different part of the company. At that time there was a very strong rule against dating coworkers, but, you know, young and dumb always wins.

    Once we started dating we were admitted to the secret club of the dating coworkers. And I found out that everyone was dating everyone else. We dated for quite a while and then the company was bought out and moved to a different part of the company. I couldn’t afford the higher cost of living in the new city, but she had family there. So of course she moved and I didn’t.

    I still think of her every so often.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I do love the part where the secret daters are EVERYBODY and the higher ups are blissfully unaware!

      I do hope you see her again someday.

  162. I Edit and I Know Things*

    I’m excited to have a story to share here!

    My husband and I met on one of the dating apps. Our first date, we connected over, of all things, HIPAA compliance. I was a magazine editor in the senior care space, and I was working on a big compliance issue. His company owner was a compliance expert on HIPAA-compliant tech practices for small businesses. We needed a cover story. I emailed his boss the next morning before my husband had even had a chance to give him a heads up. But anyway, that’s the story of why I have my husband’s boss’s face on my wall (framed issue of the magazine).

  163. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    When my husband and I were first dating, he surprised me on my birthday with flowers at work. It was so unexpected and sweet! He had like no money at the time and also horrible taste in flowers (which I love that he hasn’t outgrown), so they were not my taste but I still loved them. I had them on my desk for the rest of the afternoon and then brought them home.

    It must have made my insecure coworker feel some type of way, because she made her boyfriend bring her a huge bouquet of roses literally the next day (maybe two days later). She made such a big deal about her flowers and kept them on her desk for a week. It was very awkward but par for the course with her!

  164. General Organa*

    I met my husband at work. Our jobs didn’t overlap, but by coincidence we were asked to present on behalf of our respective teams at the same meeting in a city a couple of hours away from where we live, and we ended up carpooling and hitting it off on the drive. The complication was that as part of his role he was over HR…oops. After the drive we became friendly, and there was a definite vibe, but I knew because of his role he would never make a move. He eventually confided in me that he was unhappy in the job (for reasons that had nothing to do with me), I not-so-gracefully told him that I was romantically interested, and we went on our first date a day after he resigned. It could have gone badly at a lot of points, but I am very grateful that it worked out!

    My other favorite part of this story is that he booked an overseas vacation for right after his last day. I drove him to the airport, and he joked that if I wasn’t doing anything the next weekend, I could meet him in Rome. Little did he know that I was sitting on a LOT of airline miles from a prior job that involved travel so…I did!

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      I love this! I love that everyone acted with integrity, and I particularly love that you met up with him in Rome! <3

  165. River Song*

    I worked a nonprofit job and shared an office with the director of the counterpart of my program (think elementary after school vs teen programs). On his first day in our shared office, new guy gasped audibly, and when I glanced up, asked if I ever received an out of the blue message from someone in a past life. I responded obviously yes, it can happen…and he replied “yes but was it your disappeared fiancé?” …

    He did not message her back. The most embarrassing part of this story, for me, is eventually I myself ended up marrying him. Our ten year anniversary is in May.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      This is wild, but why is this embarrassing for you? It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong or unforward.

    2. Oh, yeah, me again*

      She had DISAPPEARED and he didn’t want to follow up on that?! Find out if she had been kidnapped? Had amnesia? Was a spy on a mission? Discovered HER long-lost husband was still alive!? I’d be dyin” . . . . !

  166. Cubefarmer*

    This was at least a decade ago, but in my organization there were two very, VERY flirtatious colleagues. He was married, she was maybe in a relationship at that point. Okay, fine, that’s none of my business. This flirtation goes on for MONTHS, and it’s obvious to pretty much everyone. I have no idea if the two people in question thought, or even cared if, they were hiding things.

    Then one day it was like nothing happened, and you could sense the chill. Did she find out that he was married? Did she get tired of the flirtation? Did his wife find out and force him to end things? They both stayed on in their roles. She eventually left the organization. Another colleague told me that she had found saved emails that were pretty incriminating for him. He’s a major creep in my opinion (for this and other reasons,) so I just steer clear of him outside of anything related to work.

  167. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I haven’t dated at work, but my favorite time I was asked out at work was 200 dollar man. The following happened in the course of one shift:

    -He kept calling me over while I was busy. instead of having a work thing he needed help with, he just wanted to chat.
    -He asked if I liked movies. No, I answered, not particularly.
    -He asked if I would loan him $200. No.
    -He asked me to go out on a date with him. To the movies. No!

    I still wonder sometimes if he thought the request for money would make it easier to get me to go on a date with him, or if he thought the date would make it easier to get me to loan him money, or if it didn’t occur to him that one would affect the other.

  168. leeapeea*

    Not my story but my mother’s. She was a nurse working at our regional Veterans Administration hospital in the urgent care unit, which also saw patients for routine check-ups and follow-up appointments. A patient in an appointment with a different UC nurse kept asking about her (my mom). This is not unusual behavior- male patients hit on female medical professionals all the time, and especially in a VA setting where the vast majority of patients are men. Except in this instance, my mom liked him back so didn’t discourage his persistence! He’d make time to chat with my mom when he visited, and soon they went on a date. I was a senior in high school, and had the “aww/eww” reaction to the bouquets of flowers he’d gift her. They got serious and eventually got married. Every nurse and doctor in the VA knew she was the one that married a patient (in a good natured way). 26 years later and they’re still together and in love.

  169. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    We were all young and working for a big insurance company and many of us were using them to pay for college.

    I asked Matilda if she would like to go with me on an ice skating date; a number of us from the company chipped in and rented a skating rink from midnight till 2 am. We would then attack a local Denny’s and after make our way home. No drinking or other tawdry activities.

    When I went to pick up Matilda, her mother answer the front door and told me that Matilda would never, ever go out with me and I would never be good enough for her. I did not know that Matilda’s father was a company VP.

    Bad news always travels around the world and 5 years later I was a high school teacher and Matilda was divorced from a serial abuser who regularly used her as a punching bag.

    I saw Mom and Dad at the big suburban shopping mall and shook hands with Dad and looked Mom in the eyes and said, “You are right, I will never be good enough for your daughter.”

    I hope her Matilda’s life improved, but the following Monday after the skating party was uncomfortable for me, but more so for Matilda.

  170. Turtlewings*

    One year a coworker’s husband hired a barbershop quartet to come serenade her at our workplace! It was adorable, she was delighted and they sounded amazing.

  171. Ann On. For This*

    I’m still kind of bummed about this one: At my first job post-master’s degree, there was a guy I had worked with for several years (we first met in 2016, then were on the same team from 2017 to 2019). I was seconded to another client, but still would sit with my old team when they worked in the office on weekends (hot desking). Toward the end of 2019, the vibes between me and this guy got very flirty, and whichever of us arrived second would find the other and sit by them, even if it was away from the rest of the team. I asked him out a couple times, but very soft-pedaled: the first time we went to an outdoor art exhibit and got drinks. The second time, though, he canceled because of work (which I understood) and he never made any attempt to reschedule. At that point I was tired of doing the pursuing (and we were both about to be slammed with work) so I just gave up. (I don’t know how much romantic experience he had, but I don’t think it was a lot.) I still think we would have been a great couple, but c’est la vie.

  172. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    Totally forgot my parents met at work.

    My mom was a recent college grad, starting her first school year teaching Business Education to high schoolers. (Back when it was punch cards, typing and stenography.)

    My father missed the first couple weeks of teacher workdays/start of school as he had National Guard Duty. But all mom had heard those weeks was the good looking single guy also in the Business Ed department.

    On his first morning back, my dad was sitting at a desk in the office and dropped a pencil. He bent down to pick it up and when he emerged from under the desk, there was my mom.

    This was early September, they were engaged by Christmas, and married the following July. My dad ended up earning his masters and changing careers and they lived all over the country. He passed away just before their 48th wedding anniversary. My mom followed 3 years later. They had 5 children and 10 grandchildren and 3 step grandchildren.

  173. Milton's Red Swingline Stapler*

    Not strictly a workplace romance, but a real “when worlds collide” situation that involved both work and my alma matter. At my first job out of college one of my coworkers just so happened to be the spouse of a professor at the school I’d just graduated from. This professor had been at the college forever and was a high-profile presence around campus. It also happened that the professor was a mentor for a couple of my good friends who were in they’re area of study — plus it was a small liberal arts school so it was very insular. I really liked the coworker and it was neat to have that connection — turns out that we had even been at some of the same functions a the college but I hadn’t put two and two together.

    Anyway, it was all good until the sh*t hit the proverbial fan. I came in one day and was told the coworker had called out — then my phone started blowing up. When I got a chance to look at the messages they were all from college friends in disbelief because the college had just announced the professor had been fired after an internal investigation found they were having multiple (!) affairs with students. Apparently one of those students tried to break it off and the professor had not taken it well and the student reported it. It was wild. I was getting emails from the college, hearing from friends who had been in touch with the professor — and then there was the coworker who came back after a few days off and was inconsolable. Then after a couple weeks the coworker went from sad disbelief to absolutely scorched earth. They would just start ranting out loud, in the middle of the office about what a terrible person the professor was, how they’d been gaslighted and betrayed, and how they were going to get revenge and take the professor for all they’re worth. There were a couple times the coworker got phone calls from the professor and would just be screaming lots of NSWF things into the phone, again this is happening right in the middle of the office. It was so disruptive and clear the coworker was in the midst of a nuclear-scale meltdown that it was strongly “suggested” the coworker take a leave of absence. The coworker came back about a month later and announced they would be leaving work and moving out of state.

  174. Oscar the Grouchy Nurse*

    I dated a resident doctor where I work. He was an alcoholic narcissist who chain smoked and almost got me evicted from my apartment several times. Worst part was (aside from the C-PTSD, the inability to sleep more than 4 hours at a time because inwas so used to him waking me up hours before my night shift, throwing a fit when I changed cat food because my cat was constantly throwing up and his cats weren’t, taking my cat to the vet when she was sick, got taled out of it, and then he got mad when his cats got sick from her, or the tonnes of booze bottles scattered in my own storage boxes), I couldn’t tell anyone at work why my work was suffering because he was ALWAYS THERE.

    lesson learned: don’t shit where you eat.

  175. Satellit*

    This is a really sweet Valentine’s Day themed story that took place at my mom’s work so I think it counts?

    When I was a kid, my mom worked as a teacher’s aide in our school. For a lot of the holidays you could bring a $0.50 and get a “holiday gram” that would have a card and piece of candy sent to anyone in the school. Near Valentine’s Day my mom was working on posters in the hallway and 2 boys were nearby. Boy A was begging Boy B to come buy Valentine’s grams with him to send to people and Boy B kept resisting. My mom knew Boy B’s family didn’t have a lot of money so she called him over and gave him $0.50 to send a Valentine gram. The boy asked if he could have a dollar so he could send two. He then came back and gave my mom one of them!

    I hope he’s doing well now.

  176. fiona the baby hippo*

    Some background, though none of this story ends in romance: My high school boyfriend and I dated briefly but intensely our senior year. Our break-up was me realizing I didn’t want to go to college with a boyfriend, but the whole thing managed to be very dramatic because all involved parties were indeed 17. We didn’t speak after that, though I was vaguely aware we both moved to the same large city after graduation.

    About ten years later, I am sitting at my desk at our large open floor plan office and lock eyes with… my high school boyfriend. He was walking back to a meeting room with a director at our company, and it was so out of the blue I went into a little bit of shock. I grabbed my coworkers arm since words were failing me. She said, “Ouch! that hurts why are you doing that,” to which i responded, ‘My ex boyfriend just walked by?’ and she admitted that was a good reason. Unsure WHY he just popped up at my company in the middle of the day, we went to one of the director’s direct reports to ask what his calendar said. It turns out he was there to discuss ways his start-up and mine could partner.

    Relieved it wasn’t for a job interview, the next question was: What the hell do I do? Do I go say hi? (I don’t want to say hi) Do I go to a coffee shop and hide (what if he goes into the same coffee shop after leaving the interview?) Do I go to a different floor? My coworkers, absolutely thrilled at this midday drama, kept arguing with me that I needed to ‘strut around’ in the open meeting area to catch his eye, and a boss thought that this would be the beginning of a rekindled romance. (Spoiler: absolutely not)

    Ultimately, I picked the most boring option: I stayed at my desk and stared at my computer like it held the secrets of the universe and completely ignored him when he walked by again. My coworkers reported that he did look back as he rounded the corner.

    And honestly, it’s only as I type this story out another 10 years later that I realize: there was no way he didn’t know I worked there! We were still facebook friends and I posted about my work a lot in those days, both to promote stuff I’d written and to seek out sources for new projects. Maybe he did think it would be the rekindling of a long-lost love.

  177. Alpaca Bag*

    When I was a 16-year-old female camp counselor, I went on a date with a male co-worker (also 16) to a party. When we arrived, I was surprised that there was a goat in the living room (!), and later he leaned on a doorway that he had forgotten was open and fell down a few steps into the yard. It was the only time I’ve seen anyone fall off the floor!

    I was very lucky that his well-behaved cousin gave me a ride home. The co-worker apologized when we saw each other at work and we agreed just to be friends.

      1. Alpaca Bag*

        It was about knee-high, mostly black, cute, well-behaved, and apparently was a family pet. Everybody else acted like this was normal, so I just went with it.

  178. Middle-Aged IT Guy*

    I used to do contract work at a big ad agency, and there was an incident where a guy showed up claiming to have a meeting with one of the Creative Directors. Turns out, the guy’s wife also worked at the ad agency, and he found out that she’d cheated on him with said Creative Director, and was showing up to confront the guy.
    So when C.D. came out to meet with the husband, he yelled something like, “My name is [hisname] and you’ve been f***ing my wife”, charges the guy, and starts throwing punches.
    I never did hear what happened afterwards.

  179. The Wizard Rincewind*

    Outing myself as an office creeper. Mea culpa.

    In my mid-twenties, when Facebook stalking was very much a thing, I had an enormous crush on one of my coworkers. Through the magic of social media, I learned that he had a side gig whose page revealed some contact info: a phone number and an email.

    So I created a contact for him in my phone, which I guess was my adult equivalent of doodling “Mrs. Wizard [Coworker]” on my notebook. And promptly forgot about it.

    Some unspecified amount of time later, I showed him something funny on my phone and he said “hey, can you send me that?” And I said “Sure, here, type in your number!”

    The number that was already in the phone. Under his name.

    We…uh…didn’t socialize a lot after that.

  180. Bitte Meddler*

    Back in the early 1990’s, I was working at a datacom/telecom company. One day, every single person who reported up to the CTO was called to an impromptu meeting on the executive floor of the building. Too many people to fit into a conference room, so we all crammed into the grand lobby on that floor.

    The CTO then proceeded to berate all of us for indulging in salacious gossip and spreading a rumor about co-workers having an affair and who were, ah, “indulging” in the affair in the office building. We got chewed out for not being professional and for creating a toxic work environment.

    I was a low-level datacom tech, so this was all news to me. I walked away thinking, “Man, it’s amazing how much an office can be like high school. Everybody should just mind their own business.”

    Imagine my surprise, then, when the CTO was essentially perp-walked out of the building several weeks later after someone provided definitive proof to the CEO of the guy “indulging” with one of his direct reports on the executive conference room table. Which happened *after* his grand speech about what a bunch of liars and gossips we all were.

    (And, yes, the CTO was married with very young children).

  181. mrs whosit*

    I’m sure I’ve told this before here, but the short version is — the first semester we were teaching in the same school, students asked if we were dating (we weren’t); as the third semester started, we were (but we kept it a secret). A few semesters later, we were married.

  182. econobiker*

    Worked at a factory building say something like “huge expensive RV bus campers”. Romance cropped up between one of the final delivery quality check, repair then clean and detail workers and her supervisor guy. I ~heard~ that supposedly there was some RV bed testing during breaktimes between the two in RVs stored on the lot for future delivery. Eventually they were found out which was a problem for her because she was actually MARRIED to ANOTHER guy who was the heating and air conditioning systems design engineer in the engineering building!!! She’d only been there 4 years while supervisor dude was a 15 year veteran of the company. Sadly she got fired, HVAC engineer guy still worked there still married to her, and supervisor guy was demoted from supervisor to worker.

    But now former supervisor guy made out in the end because the company needed someone with his experience in correcting fit and finish problems on the “huge expensive RV bus campers”. In the end he was assigned as a factory field service technician and was getting sent literally all over the world to fix filthy-rich ultra-wealthy customers “huge expensive RV bus campers”. This meant ex supervisor guy going to where ever filthy-rich ultra-wealthy customers live and hang out which are never ever bad or dumpy places to visit…

  183. HooBoy*

    I used to work at a small liberal arts college on a team that supported a large department. The head of the department hired a guy named Rob to handle marketing and communications and the like. Rob was a super personable and friendly guy, and he quickly made friends with literally everyone. He also noticeably flirted with a couple of women in the department, including a professor named Jane. Before long, Jane and Rob were spending lots of time together, both at work and outside of the office.

    About a year after I left my job at the college, I was talking to a former coworker of mine, Mike, who told me that Jane and Rob had ultimately ended up in an epic fight: Rob’s behavior led Jane to think they were dating, but Rob swore up and down that he just considered her a friend. They stopped speaking to each other, and things got so uncomfortable at work for everyone that Rob applied for and got a transfer to a support role in a different department, while Jane took a job at a different university.

    But the drama didn’t stop there. According to Mike, a few months after Rob transferred over, he and his boss were caught banging it out in an office on campus. As the college was affiliated with a church, both Rob and his boss lost their jobs.

    In a remarkable coincidence, about a week after I spoke to Mike, my boyfriend and I ran into Rob at the grocery store. I let out a startled “Hi, Rob!” when I saw him, and he walked past me and out of the store as if I didn’t exist.

    And that’s how I learned how terribly wrong things can go when you use your workplace as your dating pool.

    1. Bruce*

      About 13 years ago a senior engineer was exposed as having badly harassed a woman who reported to him, he was fired in disgrace. About 3 months later a group of us encountered him in the lobby of another company, he turned visibly pale when he saw us and exited as quickly as he could. Consequences are satisfying!

  184. sclin2*

    When I was a student worker at my university’s writing center, my now-husband (then fiance) thought it would be funny to have a friend of ours deliver a card, chocolates, and a bouquet of a dozen roses in a vase to my office – and then commence a SINGING TELEGRAM style song and dance performance of a letter my husband had instructed him to convey to me. This friend has a very deep, booming “radio” voice, so it carried pretty far (though was pretty good, actually). I was both mortified and found it hilarious. Luckily the writing center was super chill so everyone else also found it funny. Still married to the husband, still great friends with the singing telegram guy.

  185. MsVanS*

    One day, my boss had a lovely bouquet delivered to her office for her wedding anniversary. But it was NOT FANCY ENOUGH, I learned through the wall when she called her husband. The next day, he hand-delivered a bouquet that was literally 3 feet tall, which apparently was enough to win back her affections. You can imagine what she was like to work for!

  186. Cedrus Libani*

    My parents met at work. They’ve been together 35 years, so a success story, but a rather American one…forgive me, there’s a workplace shooting involved. Also health insurance, because my dad was a single parent to a seriously ill toddler (me) and wasn’t in a position to risk getting his sugar where he made our bread.

    But, one day…they were both in a meeting on the other side of the building, unfortunately several of their co-workers weren’t as lucky. This was back in the era where you left your computer at your desk. Their computers got shot, but they didn’t. In light of their sudden renewed appreciation for being alive and the importance of living life while you still can, suddenly the company’s anti-fraternization policy wasn’t a deal breaker. Mom transferred to a related department where they wouldn’t be in each other’s reporting structure, and they’ve been together since.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      And yes, the shooting was a workplace “romance” situation. One co-worker got fixated on another co-worker, who wasn’t interested, and stalked her to the point where he got fired for it. Came back for revenge.

  187. Have you had enough water today?*

    Very un-funny tale of woe really…

    Operations Manager (50 something man) started a clandestine relationship with one of the admin women (20 something woman). They managed to keep it under wraps for about 12 nanoseconds, worst kept secret in the office really. No one really cared until he started to do stupid things like give her preference when it came to taking leave over popular timeframes (Christmas, New Year, Easter), letting her take longer lunches, not reprimanding her for arriving late & leaving early (but was strict on all other employees for the same behaviours), just blatant favouritism.

    The rest of the senior leadership team found out & pulled them both into a meeting where they were shown the company policy regarding relationships which banned someone at his level from romancing a junior employee, which she was. They were given the choice to either break up or one of them had to go. They chose to stay together & she was let go. Wrong decision. She successfully sued the company for wrongful dismissal & was reinstated in her previous role & the Ops Manager was moved to another part of the company where he would no longer be in a position of power over her. He hated the new role as it required him to travel for one week every month & so he left the company altogether after only about two months for a lower paying job just to get out.

    It gets worse – At some point in all that mess he bought a house for them to live in together, which was put in her name only so his wife could not touch it in the divorce…yep, she dumped him soon after he left the company, took the house, & she is also still at the company doing almost nothing & whenever she is reprimanded for something she takes stress leave & claims PTSD from when she was “preyed up on by a senior leader then wrongfully dismissed”.

    A whole mess.

      1. So many questions*

        No. If she was actually working and taking stress leave just because she got reprimanded (and if she needs stress leave then she should be getting treatment) that’s not awesome. They both suck.

        1. Andromeda*

          “She successfully sued the company for wrongful dismissal”

          so, at least legally speaking, she was actually wrongfully dismissed. Not exactly 10/10 outstanding behaviour but I know who I’m side-eyeing more here.

      2. Despachito*

        What is awesome on someone blatantly profiting from favouritism, cheating with a married person, concocting a plan with the cheater to basically steal from his wife, stealing the stolen property for herself, not pulling her weight and using the previous mess as an excuse?

        The man was definitely a horrible person and deserved her, but she was by no means a hero – she sucked as much as he did.

        There is a Spanish proverb “whoever steals from a thief, is pardoned for a hundred years”, basically meaning that stealing from a thief is a good thing. It may bring satisfaction in terms of karma, but it does not make the second thief a good person.

  188. Bitte Meddler*

    I worked for a global, Fortune 5 tech company in sales. I was part of a big division that was rapidly expanding, so dozens and dozens of people were hired within a span of 6-8 months. Meaning: lots and lots of new people every single day.

    One day, a new guy showed up. He was, no lie, the most drop-dead gorgeous man I had ever seen. Like, super model quality. Every woman in the division had moon eyes for him (me included). We absolutely swoooooned whenever he walked by and we got tongue-tied just saying hello to him.

    Then, a month or so later, a new gal showed up. She was, no lie, the most drop-dead gorgeous woman I had ever seen. Like, super model quality. Every man in the division had moon eyes for her and absolutely swooooooned whenever she walked by and they all got tongue-tied just saying hello to her. [Hell, I — a straight woman — got tongue-tied talking to her. My brain would go all jumbly, “How are words coming from absolute perfection? This isn’t real.”]

    We all noticed that they had no problem talking to each other, though. So it wasn’t surprising when I heard they were dating. And, later, that they had gotten married.

    Amusingly, no one got jealous by them dating or getting married. Everyone was just like, “Yes, of course, this is exactly as the universe intended. Those two belong together.”

  189. SylvieM*

    I met my ex partner because he was a supplier, and I used to call him on the telephone every day, we met up one day and things happened, moved in together and I moved counties to be with him.

    Because we were in the same industry, I took a job at the same company as him.

    One year we had was a particularly bad year, family dying, house evictions, family arrested, miscarriages. You name it, it happened.

    We walk into work together, and to my great surprise all my work colleagues were saying Happy Birthday to him. Y’all, I had completely spaced due to the other events, and im not entirely sure if I hadn’t gone into work that day if I would’ve remembered. Luckily he was a good sport and very understanding of the situation, but no he has not let me forget.

  190. Ann O'Nemity*

    Semi-related: The time my coworker received funeral flowers for Valentine’s Day…

    My coworker Kate was surprised with flowers delivered to work on Valentine’s Day, but it looked like a sympathy arrangement with white lilies and a cross. The card read something like, “Our deepest condolences on your loss. May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead. From the team at Smith Consulting.” Kate was seriously confused. Her boyfriend, Tom, worked at Smith Consulting! Was Tom planning a breakup? Was this a joke?

    Nope, florist mix up! Tom had placed two different orders with the same florist on the same day several weeks back. Kate got the sympathy flowers, and the bereaved family of one of Tom’s coworkers received romantic flowers at the funeral home.

  191. Wendy the Spiffy*

    A darker story: About 20 years ago, I worked with someone who had been dealing with a stalker for several years already when I first started at this company. Multiple restraining orders, not in the phone book (which were still a thing), had moved many times without sharing a forwarding address — basically everything possible to keep the stalker from knowing her current location.

    On Valentine’s day, a package arrived at the office addressed to her. Inside was a teddy bear. The bear’s eyes were torn off, it had a gaping hole in its belly with stuffing pulled out, and pinned to it was a note that said, “Thinking of you.”

    She moved once again and changed cars, but did stay at that job with security escorting her between her building and car. Still creeps me out thinking of it to this day.

  192. Cat Sandwich*

    A teacher, Tom, who no longer works at my school (more on that later) had a huge crush on me. Even though he never pulled the trigger, I told him I don’t date coworkers and I am not interested in breaking that rule. I thought he understood.

    Fast forward a year later, I am at my other coworker’s housewarming party with my boyfriend. A third grade teacher rolls in (literally) hammered and loudly says, “Is that Sandwich’s boyfriend? I thought she was dating Tom!”

    Turns out this creep, either hurt from rejection or seriously disillusioned told everyone in the 3-5 grade span (I’m k-2) we were dating and I was his girlfriend.

    The reason I never found out until a year later? Two months after I rejected him, he walked out of the school in the middle of the day and never came back. He did find me on Instagram and I’ve fantasized a couple of times about telling him off or unfollowing him, but I figure the best revenge is to just do nothing.

  193. InsufficentlySubordinate*

    Well, I worked at a place some years ago, fairly small, where our department(around 20 people) had a couple who had met, courted, got married, spoke inappropriately to co-workers about their s*x life, fought, separated, divorced, spread rumors, and continued to work in the same department the whole time. New hires were warned so they knew to not schedule the two in the same meeting without enough other people to buffer. And to explain the acidic comments (mostly from one of them).

  194. irritable vowel*

    When I was in my 20s I had a flirtation with someone I worked with – nothing ever even happened between us, but he still somehow managed to give me pink eye because that’s how contagious pink eye is. (Turned out the person who gave HIM pink eye was his girlfriend… that was the end of that.)

  195. Carole from Accounts*

    I once really hit it off with a coworker in a different division, different reporting structure over mutual interests. It got to the point where we chatted nearly daily on the company messenger system about non work stuff, like upcoming movies or comic books, and eventually started texting outside of work after about a year. After several months of texting, he started getting a little flirty, and while I was kind of reserved about a workplace romance, I liked him and thought I knew enough about him that maybe going on a date would be fun. (Note: There was no policy against dating people from other divisions, and a few people in the company were in relationships)

    The next time he texted about an upcoming movie that looked good, I suggested we see it on the weekend. He said he couldn’t go unfortunately, he was going out of town to visit his parents. I felt like it was a sign that he didn’t suggest alternate timing for the movie, so I didn’t press the issue, but then he kept texting through the weekend and sent some photos of him hanging out with his parents, etc.

    When I returned to work on Monday, I had fifty plus emails from someone outside our organization. As I read them, I learned, with horror, that my flirty coworker was engaged, and that the weekend trip had actually been for wedding-related planning. It was actually creepy how much he told me about his life (and flirted!) without once mentioning his fiancée (think: “I’m looking at new apartments” but omitting “to live in with my future wife”, and then sending me photos of the apartment for me to comment on) The emails also had really carefully edited screenshots of texts that made it look like I had been relentlessly texting/pursuing my coworker, but were also somewhat nonsensical because the replies from his side were missing. Of course, HR was CC’d on every email.

    When I went to HR, they weren’t concerned at all, but advised me to avoid further non-work related contact with that coworker. No problem. The weird thing was he kept texting me even after that, asking me what I was up to, or sending photos of his weekend activities. I left everything on read, as the kids say these days.

    Months later, we had to work on a project together, and while I was presenting the results, I got to say, in front of everyone: “I think it’ll really drive engagement and publicity, nobody benefits from secret engagements” in a really natural way, and watching him squirm and turn red felt like pretty good payback.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Back when I worked in a doughnut shop in college, a colleague brought in several bouquets of wildflowers for the store. No pee, thank God, but turns out I was violently allergic to the pollen.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        My condolences. My husband is also allergic to pollen, and therefore hardly ever gives me flowers. But when he does, I think he’s either being very brave, or he’s plann