Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Makes So Many of Us Fall in Love at Work? the Office Romance May Seem a Cliche, but There Are Deep Psychological Reasons for Falling in Love at Work, Says Psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

What Makes So Many of Us Fall in Love at Work? the Office Romance May Seem a Cliche, but There Are Deep Psychological Reasons for Falling in Love at Work, Says Psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud

Article excerpt

Byline: DR RAJ PERSAUD

THE office has recently taken over from the pub and nightclub as the place where men and women are most likely to start affairs. Marital therapist Dr Shirley Glass says in her book Not Just Friends that of the unfaithful people she sees, 50 per cent of the women and 62 per cent of the men were seeing someone from work.

"Today's workplace has become the new danger zone of romantic attraction and opportunity," Glass writes.

An obvious reason for the rise of the office romance is that more women than ever are going out to work. Put simply, there is more opportunity for sexual liaisons than ever before.

Being at work has become a major risk factor for marital breakdown for women.

Before the mid-1980s, divorce rates were about equal among working women and housewives. Now, according to research, the annual probability of divorce among employed wives exceeds that for non-employed wives by 40 per cent.

But therapists also argue that a different work environment has spawned a new kind of affair. Dr Glass says the old idea of the powerful boss romancing his lovely secretary no longer reflects the typical office relationship.

Today's affair is likely to be between equals. One researcher calls this new kind of affair the "cup of coffee" syndrome. Men and women begin with safe marriages at home and friendships at work. As they regularly meet for coffee breaks and lunch, these friendships between colleagues become deeper.

Cindy Hazan, a psychologist at Cornell University in America, says the big risk factor is long working hours. Men and women at work end up seeing more of each other than their spouses.

"Proximity is really the core of attachment. Familiar people have a calming effect on us," says Dr Hazan.

Put two members of the opposite sex of any species in the same cage, she says, and they are bound to mate eventually.

And today's office has never felt more like a cage.

HAZAN believes a primitive biological mechanism is at work. …

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