Is “Love” Appropriate at Work?
Being in a “love” relationship at work? Is that appropriate (or some might ask, is it even feasible?)
It depends, largely, I think, on what you mean by “love”.
Our culture has numerous definitions and uses of the word love (“I love their sushi here!”), but when used in the context of relationships, we tend to think of the type of love related to “falling in love” or “being in love”. This is unfortunate because there are actually different types of ways to “love” within a relationship. Let me describe a few:
- Romantic love. Displayed in movies and other media, this is the type of love where you “feel” a warmth and affection for another person. (Dr. Chapman in his discussion of the 5 Love Languages, calls these feelings “the twitters”.) The problem is, research has shown that these feelings of attraction typically only last about two years in most relationships.
- Familial love. Love within a family – between parents and children, among siblings, and even extended family – is based both on biology but also on the basis that you live together (or have in the past), share life experiences, and you are part of a group committed (hopefully) to caring for, and taking care of one another. (Familial love also may be displayed in family-owned businesses.)
- Collegial love. (This has been called “brotherly love” over the centuries, but that feels too gender specific for today.) There are relationships that we develop through doing things together, going through life experiences together, and sometimes having similar interests. Often formed in the context of friendships, the intensity of these relationships can vary significantly depending on the life experiences shared together (think of the “Band of Brothers” series where a group of men endured the hardships of war together). But this can come from being parents of your child’s soccer team, from long-term work relationships, or friendships developed through some common social group.
- Erotic “love”. Our culture has taken our sexual desires and infused them into (and confused them with) romantic relationships. [Further, sexual intimacy has moved into “non-relationships” where individuals “hook up” sexually even when they don’t have an ongoing relationship with the other person. While some view this as some type of loving relationship, it seems to be more of a distortion of the purposes of sex in relationships (for example, to celebrate the intimacy and commitment of a relationship).]
In workplace relationships, collegial love seems appropriate, even healthy. What does this type “love” look like practically in the workplace?
- Serving one another
- Commitment and loyalty
- Being kind
- Encouraging one another
- Looking out for another’s interest.
So, from this understanding of love, yes, I think love should be a part of the workplace.
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Tags: intimacy, love, love at work, romance
Categories Communication, Five Love Languages, Relationships, Work