I was once a firm believer of never mixing your love life with your professional life. I dated a guy from office and the whole team knew about it and slowly started getting invested in our relationship. There were sweet moments of us as a couple at work, but our relationship later went downhill at work due to my boyfriend's possessive nature. His blood would boil if he saw another male colleague even talk to me. Slowly, slowly, he started controlling the way I dressed, spoke and worked. I felt like his puppet trapped in a cage called 'the office'. Even though he'd tell me he loves me, deep down, his love was suffocating me.
Things had gotten worse when our colleagues started interfering in our relationship. It was a private firm and the team had a very "we are like a family" attitude. I detested the idea of confiding in a colleague when my relationship was on the verge of hitting rock bottom. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was different. He would openly tell our colleagues about our relationship's secrets, our fights and my insecurities. This eventually took a toll on my professional life. More than focusing on their targets, my colleagues would gossip about our relationship. As much as they'd like to deny it, no one wanted to genuinely help us. They just needed some masala at work, and sadly, our relationship was THAT for them.
The good news is that I left that job a few months ago and the boyfriend (or should I say ex now?) there too. The experience has scarred me, but I want to start a new chapter. I'm not looking for love this time, but focusing on making a girl boss out of myself.
The next company I started working at had this bustling office in a coworking space. Gosh! It was like a breath of fresh air! Every day, I met a new face, interacted with more like-minded people. I found myself a new cosy spot in the common area that increased my productivity. People rarely poked their noses into anyone's personal life. Space and mutual respect were given. You come to work, brainstorm with awesome people, make new acquaintances and casually hang out after work. It's amazing that there's always something buzzing at a coworking space.
This time, I made it a point to work hard. Have no distractions and maintain the colleague-friend distance. But, you know, the universe, as usual, is famous for spilling milk on my life when things are going perfect. I fell in love again. This time, not with a guy from office, but someone in the same coworking space. The worst part, he didn't know I existed! I used to daydream about him at work though.
I laid eyes on him for the first time during our team presentation. We were using the common meeting room of the coworking space and he and his colleagues were outside having a hearty laugh. My boss asked me to go outside and shush them. That's what I exactly did, but when I called out to them, he was the first to make eye contact with me. He gave me this naughty smirk, apologised for the ruckus and walked away with the boys. Even though all of this lasted for hardly a minute, I could not help but rewind that memory in my head again and again. He had the face of an angel, a husky voice and a fantastic dressing sense.
After the meeting, I purposely took a break and went exploring each floor in the coworking space in hopes of bumping into him again. Sadly, no luck. I didn't find him the week after either. Just when I had given up all hope, I saw him at the common canteen. Our eyes met again and this time, it was he who approached me. He jokingly told me that he caught me staring at him (which was true) but not to seem like a creep, I denied all allegations. We later laughed it off and he asked if he could join me for lunch.
Talking to him was a breeze. No stress, no tension, no drama - we clicked! After our fourth unofficial lunch date, it was obvious that we enjoyed each other's company. The best part no one knew about our connection in either of the offices. It made dating at work, as uncomplicated as ordering a pizza! We had a vibe going on and felt it was best to keep it a secret from the world.
Gradually, from office lunch dates, we moved to drinks after work and later, movie nights. We kissed at his place and it was from that moment on, we realised things could not be the same again. We didn't want it any other way either. It was such a comforting feeling to know that you and your partner work at the same office but on different floors. We both had our own space, we could hang out at the common areas whenever we wanted and best of all, we didn't step on each other's toes at work.
For the fear of being judged and being the centre of gossip at work, we didn't want to go public with our relationship, we didn't walk into the office together or hang around each other too much. We played it smart, we played it cool.
I've been dating him for 2 years now and you would be happy to know that he popped the question last month. Our parents know about it and there's going to be a proper engagement party in two weeks. I'm sure that our colleagues are bound to find out sooner or later. The news will surely come as a shocker to them! Nevertheless, I'm sure they'll be for us though.
If you're looking to switch from a boring private office space to a bustling coworking space, CoWrks, is a great place to start. In the middle of enjoying presentations, meeting deadlines and making new friends, who knows, you might even bump into your soulmate! *Wink*
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