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For a while there, you were giving Jim and Pam a run for their money as one half of your office’s resident power couple.
But now, it’s over. And you can’t just heal by pounding some beers or watching a teary romance (or doing both simultaneously). You still have to see this person every day. You have to suffer through your ex-sweetheart’s office-wide emails and boring presentations.
So what do you do when your workplace romance sours?
Of course, there are a number of variables that determine how you ought to handle a breakup with a coworker: Was your affair secret or public? Were you involved with your superior? Were you married, dating, or just having fun?
No matter what your circumstances, however, it’s important to stand your ground in the aftermath of a workplace breakup. Don’t allow temporary bad vibes to derail your whole career trajectory.
Here are her six tips for making this awkward time a bit easier:
Take preemptive measures
You might be head over heels for your office love in the beginning, but don’t be fooled by the honeymoon phase. Remember that things might not work out.
Williams notes that it’s important to have an honest conversation about what will happen if you break up before it’s even an issue. This at least allows you to have a bit of a game plan if things explode.
Follow your office’s policy and don’t be obnoxious. If your love is forbidden, then consider the fall out and take sensible precautions to keep your relationship under wraps. That being said, it’s important to recognize that this is easier said than done.
“Attempts to keep the relationship a secret usually fail and invite interest, speculation, and gossip,” Williams says.
Also, don’t become that couple.
“Blatant and indiscreet PDA is difficult to stomach whether you’re walking down the street, at a bar, or attending a ball game, and it certainly doesn’t belong at work,” Williams told Business Insider. “No one wants to watch you suck face in the office corridor.”
If you and your bae turn yourselves into a spectacle, your coworkers probably won’t be terribly sympathetic when things fall apart. In fact, they might be likely to tune in for more drama.
Try treating it like a regular breakup
Even if your fall out was contentious, don’t bring that hostility into the office with you.
“Treat it like any other break up,” Williams says. “Stick to your grounds and keep the relationship cordial.
And definitely don’t be tempted to get back together just to make the situation in the office less awkward.
Remember, it’s no one’s business but your own
If you feel wronged, it can be tempting to complain about your situation to your coworkers. That might give you momentary relief, but it’s just going to make things worse in the long run.
“Avoid the temptation to play dirty,” Williams says. “Do not add fuel to the fire and spread your dirty laundry around the office.”
Never fight in the office
Williams says it’s important to keep things professional with your ex at all times.
That means no fighting in the office. Also, don’t try to embroil your boss in some weird, unnecessary power play.
“Do not undermine your ex-S.O. or ask to have them transferred,” Williams says. “You knew the proposed risks when you entered into the relationship and need to act like adults.”
Steer clear, if you can
It’s not a terrible idea to try to stay away from your ex if possible, especially immediately after your relationship ends. You might be in a vulnerable emotional spot, and you don’t want to aggravate that.
Of course, if you’re still friendly with your former love, then disregard this. Also, if you work in a small office or are assigned to the same project, then you might just have to get used to seeing them constantly.
In order to heal, however, it’s probably best not to go out of your way to spend time with them in the office.
Face the music
That being said, Williams feels it’s important not to hide from your problem. If you’ve just broken it off with a colleague, don’t take a sick day (or worse, quit your job). Even if you’re confrontation adverse, it’s better to just tackle this head on.
Hopefully the complicated feelings will numb as time passes.