Outside of the internet, work can often feel like the most convenient place to meet someone, and it’s true that a lot of us do find long-term mates there. Thirty-eight percent of employed people in the U.S. say that they’ve been a part of an office romance, with 31 percent of those relationships resulting in marriage (that’s according to a February 2014 survey released by CareerBuilder). While most modern companies have fairly loose policies when it comes to in-office dating, there’s often still a stigma attached to hooking up at work (especially for straight women). The Cut talked to ten women about how they ended up saying “fuck it” and marrying a co-worker anyway.
Some names have been changed.
1. Aviva, 28
David — who is now my husband — saw my graphic-design portfolio online and had me in for a job interview. I got the job, and we began working together, about three feet away from each other. We became really good friends, and eventually David's roommate moved out of the two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg David shared with his girlfriend. Lucky me, I moved in! Yup, the three of us: Dave, his girlfriend, and me. If there was an attraction between Dave and me, we weren’t acknowledging it. In fact, Dave even fixed me up with a couple of his friends.
A little while later, Dave broke up with the girlfriend and she moved out. We weren’t seeing each other yet, but once we were both free, it was obvious there was some serious love-stuff brewing. We started dating shortly thereafter, and lived together for three more years before we got married. We founded a creative agency together the same year we got married, and we still — six years later — work within a few feet of each other. I feel like we worked out the kinks early, while we were still just friends and living together. I think it helps that we're both extremely communicative and generally easygoing, too.
2. Sue, 67
I was about 27 when I met my husband-to-be. I had wrecked my VW Bug and was getting rides to work with a woman who worked in personnel. I said, "Why don't you hire some good-looking, young, single men?" and she told me she'd just hired a couple of young guys in the design department. Soon after that I was invited to a party given by a friend in that department and that's where I met Kevin. I think our first date — a bike ride — may have been the next weekend. He used to draw me outrageously dirty, funny cartoons and send them through interoffice mail. I still have those drawings! We dated for two years before eloping.
There were quite a few company romances, but when we decided to get married a couple of years later, we didn't tell anyone at work except for one best friend. Somehow it felt stranger to be "Mr. and Mrs." in the workplace than to be a dating couple. I continued to use my maiden name at work for several years, so a lot of people didn't know we were married, but it was no big secret. It sometimes got weird if we happened to be in the same meeting and disagreed about some issue, because we argued with the familiarity and intensity of a married couple rather than the more careful or respectful way of colleagues. Once, someone who’d been at one of those meetings came up to me after and asked, "Are you okay?"
3. Cori, 26
James says that he saw me when I was interviewing for the job; he says that I caught his eye. We'd hang out as friends, pretending that we didn’t like each other. Then, one drunken night, we quit pretending. We kept it quiet for a while. Once, when we first started dating, James handed me a folded-up piece of paper on his way out of the office. It was a map with directions to a handicap bathroom and the words “Meet me here in ten minutes!” We had a quick make-out session in there and that became our meeting place for the next three years.
We tried to be professional, and it was pretty easy because we were on the same level — if he had been my boss, I don’t think it would have been so well-accepted. But there were a few times when it was an issue, when one of us had to correct the other’s mistake, and as we got more serious, it became weird to be working so closely. We both started looking for other jobs, and ended up leaving the company about a month before we got married. I’m obviously glad I met him, but I wouldn’t work with him again.
4. Kara, 34
We met working at a hot PR agency in Chicago. I was in my early 20s. Michael was a bit older, married, and living in the suburbs. I thought, This guy is so cool, I can’t believe he lives in the suburbs. But I soon found out that he was going through a divorce ... right when I was in the midst of a breakup with my college sweetheart. Everybody at work hung out socially, and we were friends from the start. I started asking him for advice on being newly single, and it was actually my sister who first pointed out that I had a crush on him.
We were working together for 15 months before we started dating. Once it happened, we kept it totally secret. Not that it wouldn’t have been accepted: There were married couples at work. But there were a few reasons why we did. First of all, it was fun. The secrecy certainly added some excitement. And while we didn’t work together directly, he was senior to me. I never wanted to invite perceptions that I was using a personal relationship for professional gain.
After we started dating, we started going to lunch together a lot because it was something that our colleagues wouldn’t think twice about. We also started an anonymous blog where we wrote weekly “he said, she said” restaurant reviews, which got some attention in Chicago. We kept that up for about nine months and then, at the holiday party, I was catching up with a colleague on personal-life stuff and she asked if I liked Michael or would ever date him. I confessed. We then just announced it and people laughed and toasted us. Some friends said they suspected something; others were completely floored. But they embraced it.
About a year in, we started getting really serious, and it became a lot more difficult — working all day together and then spending evenings together got overwhelming. He had been at the agency longer and was more established there, so I ended up moving to a new job. We stopped the blog once we weren’t working together — it didn’t make sense anymore. But I look back at the blog — and the time we spent working together — very, very fondly.
5. Gina, 34
We met in 2001 when Thomas was 26 and I was 21. He was a singer-songwriter living in the city and I was living at home with my parents and going to school in New Jersey. One night my friend dragged me to the Hudson Hotel in the city because she’d read it was cool in InStyle magazine or somewhere. Thomas was there, we met, and he said, “You are the most stunning woman I have ever seen in my life.” When I got back home that night, there was already a message from him on my answering machine. We’ve been together ever since.
I left college two years later to take a job in digital marketing before that was really even a thing. Thomas had put out his album and was really savvy about rudimentary social networking: He was the person who first told me about MySpace. I said that he should really apply what he had learned about marketing online to a job, and I convinced the people I worked for to hire him. I had already brought in other friends and family members to work for them, and those situations had worked out really well. Plus, they knew Thomas; they’d gone to his gigs. We worked together at that company for six years, and then for a few more years at another company. Then we both left to take jobs at different corporations. We live in New Jersey, and would spend the commute into work catching up. I mostly work from home now, and I miss that time. Even now that we don’t work together, we don’t really have a separation of work and home. We’ll stay up until 1 o’clock in the morning talking about work. I know it’s not normal, but it’s normal for us.
6. Emily, 28
It was my first big job out of college and the company was a breeding ground of hookups — there were a lot of young, smart, ambitious people working together closely and late into the night — there were 13 marriages to come out of our company! And countless relationships and heartbreaks. But my friend and I did not want to cross that line — we made a pact to never date anyone at work. We thought it was too incestuous.
I had been at the company for about six months prior to Diego joining. I was talking to my manager and sitting on her desk, and he totally made me do a double take. A few days later, a bunch of my co-workers went out for Korean barbecue and we invited the new guy along. I leaned over to my friend at that dinner and said, I’m breaking the pact. Diego and I ended up chatting the whole night, and he asked me out that Friday. We did keep it on the DL for like, two weeks — neither of us had ever dated anyone at work before. We moved in together after three weeks, and were engaged in nine months. The funny thing is, people still didn’t really know, probably because we didn’t interact much at work. Diego had a secret admirer at work who would leave him little gifts and notes. I figured out who it was, and made sure to tell her in passing that Diego and I were dating. (The gifts stopped coming.)
We worked together for over a year and a half after we got married. We never hooked up in the office per se, but we'd meet in the stairwell. It felt really dangerous, even if we weren't doing anything more than kissing. We'd mainly just abuse Gchat.
7. Jaime, 38
I went to a job interview at a start-up and though I wasn’t sure I wanted to work there, I knew that I wanted to follow up with one of the guys who interviewed me. We had an instant connection. I was married at the time, but I was intrigued. I took the job, and Jon and I tried really hard to be friends (he was also in a fading relationship). One night, after one of our “friend” dates, Jon texted me, "I wish you weren't taken.” I pulled over and wrote, "You have no idea." That was in May, about eight months after I started working there. By July we declared our love for each other, and by August my ex moved out.
We tried to keep it secret for a while, but by the following South by Southwest we were ready to tell everyone. We had a coming-out dinner with all of our co-workers, where we announced we were dating. Personally, it was a big relief. I wasn’t carrying this secret around, we didn’t have to pretend that we weren’t staying in the same room during work trips. One pain in the ass was that one of the accounting people started going through our work-travel expenses, suggesting that we were having these amazing trips on the company’s dime. It was extremely annoying and unprofessional of her, but everyone else seemed comfortable with it. We don’t work together right now, but I’m sure we will again. It’s probably in our future to do a business together. We balance each other.
8. Alice, 37
We met at Buckingham Palace: Gregory was a butler and I was a maid, but we worked in different departments. I had been there for three years when he started and when I first saw him, he was sitting with a friend in the social club and I had that classic — cheesy, I know — moment. I knew that he was going to be very special for some reason! We would cross paths many times throughout the day, often had to communicate in order to complete various tasks, and would socialize together. And there was live-in accommodation, so we were all living and working together in quite close quarters. It was common for people to form relationships and also marry while still working there. Gregory and I struck up a close friendship and I very quickly fell in love with him, but there was one very major problem: I was already in a relationship with another co-worker. It was a rocky relationship, but I had been with him for three years by that point and I was scared of the consequences of a breakup. He had previously been in a relationship with a co-worker, and when they split, he had threatened to harm himself — his behavior was so unpredictable. I didn’t want the press to get a hold of anything if my partner went crazy or something.
After nearly a year, Gregory left the palace and moved to his hometown; I remained in my unhappy relationship. Gregory and I stayed in constant contact for the next three years, speaking on the phone every couple of days, sometimes for hours at a time, although we never met in person. I eventually left the job as well and so did my then-partner, who ended up proposing. I said no! And permanently ended things. Just a few months later, Gregory and I spent that Christmas together; four months later he proposed to me and I accepted.
9. Lauren, 32
This might be weird to say, but I kind of went into the job thinking I might meet a guy. The majority of the staff was under 30 and single, and there were just as many men as women, if not more. I figured that if I didn’t end up dating a co-worker, I would at least meet someone through someone. He sat catty-corner to me, and we became friends over Instant Messenger. (Way back then, it was AIM, not Gchat.) I wasn’t attracted to him: He wore Express for Men striped shirts. And he wasn’t attracted to me: I wore high-neck lace blouses that he wasn’t afraid to tell me reminded him of Little House on the Prairie. I’d tell him about guys I was semi-dating, and he talked about his crushes on other girls in the office. We hung out after work with other friends, and he brought me Starbucks in the morning. But there wasn’t anything romantic happening. I was only his work wife.
Then, he told me that he was leaving to help start a new company. I was excited for him, but I also cried on his last day of work. Less than a week after he left, I realized that unless we started dating, I was going to basically lose him. I invited him to a work event, where mostly everyone got very drunk. I dared him, very loudly, to kiss me. We made out for 45 minutes in front of the Urban Outfitters on 14th Street and Sixth Avenue (did I mention that we were drunk?). We went on our first date that weekend, and within two weeks I knew we’d get married. I never believed in that When Harry Met Sally sort of thing; that you could be falling in love with someone and not know it. But it happened to us.
10. Jane, 30
Daria and I met while working for a nonprofit. We were both in other relationships at the time, but we would both be lying if we said we didn’t notice each other. A few weeks after we met, a bunch of us from work took the subway together, and the two of us talked the entire ride. We both have similar senses of humor and I remember laughing a lot with her that night.
A couple of months later, my relationship ended. Daria and her former partner separated shortly after my own uncoupling, which led us to face the feelings that we had both been navigating. One night she sent me a text message that she was making me a mix CD and would bring it to the office the following day. I listened to it with headphones at my cubicle, and the lyrics of each song convinced me that this was a connection that couldn’t be ignored.
I asked Daria to meet me in one of the staff lounges in our office, and that was when we had our first kiss. At first, we tried to keep our relationship a secret. There was no policy on fraternization, but it felt complicated to know what to say to our co-workers. We would do all kinds of ridiculous things, like ride the train into work together on separate cars after spending the night at one of our apartments. Of course, when I asked my closest work friend to go out to dinner with me so I could finally tell her what was happening, before I could say a word she said, “You are in love with Daria!” I guess it was pretty obvious.