July Featured: Office Romance

Rowan Pelling wrote a romance article for Perspective’s July issue called “The home office leaves work lovers out of dates“. The premise of the argument is that we cannot bring an office romance into bloom working from home. It’s hard to kindle romance over Zoom.

She makes the point in response to Matt Hancock’s resignation. CCTV caught him having an affair at the office with his colleague. Firstly, he broke the social distancing rules that he came up with. Secondly, he was married!

Pelling writes about her own office romance when she was working at GQ in the Nineties. She points out that in those days “you either met sexual partners at work or in the pub.” The problem with a work-based tryst is that the only exit is “being fired, or faking your own death.”

Today’s youth scroll through Bumble, Hinge or Tinder until they find someone perfect. In those days you couldn’t afford to be so picky when it came to love. “We all think we know our own desires, but actually they tend to be hidden from us”. Which is why finding someone attractive at work is so frequent but also surprising.

When Pelling joined GQ in 1993 as a PA, she writes,  “I didn’t feel attracted to any of my colleagues.” Especially not the deputy editor. He was high minded and “the only person in the office who didn’t seem to get blind drunk every Friday.” But slowly and “inexplicably” Pelling became intrigued by him.

Marriage

She writes about the familiar advancement of affection. “Eyes continually catching across the room, furtive lunches, tactile dancing at the office party” before a walk in Cambridge and a “swooning kiss on the sofa”. And they were married two years later.

Pelling concludes that she does not wish a return to those times. “They enabled the Harvey Weinsteins as much as the true romantics. But – dear God – office life was a lot less boring.”

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