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A general assumption is the inevitability of sexual attraction among certain coworkers. Shared assignments often encourage natural openings for close encounter between men and women, and supports attractions that hitherto wasn’t there in the absence of proximity. As usual, some people will follow through sexual attraction in the workplace to love or marriage, while some will be involved in affairs that threaten their careers or other committed relationships. However many are likely to shun a romantic relationship at work. Or are they?
Though traditional thought assumes the only suitable place for sexual attraction is between lovers or spouses, experts now believe that a single intimate relationship may not fulfill us in every way. For instance, the notion is that busy people leading complex lives outside the home may not be able to get total personal and professional satisfaction from primary relationship. The thinking is to love one person intimately, and appreciate another intellectually in a way that doesn’t devalue the commitment to a primary partner.
This new notion has moved the term ‘consenting adults’ away from sharing physical sex to include openness to the possibility of accepting sexual attraction, talking openly about feelings and relishing sexuality within mutually accepted boundaries. Summarily, the new relationship is limited, that is you may share moments of great personal secrets and intimacy, but no sexual intimacy.
Business Couple: a new sexual etiquette
Relationship experts have developed a practical, two-person model - the Business couple - of sexual etiquette for those who wish to exploit the energy of workplace attraction without physical sex or falling in love. Unlike friends, these partners share moments of great personal revelation. But unlike lovers, they don’t expect to share bodies and emotions. They disclose only what they choose to.
The truth however is that men and women working closely together find themselves in relationships that in many ways resemble dating and marriage. They ride the emotional ups and down of success and failure together. They are interdependent. They think same way and share same values. As beautiful as this relationship looks, a review of life's priorities quickly advises participants what it lacks. The realisation hits home that their work partner doesn’t take part in any of the life activities that make their home romantic relationships primary and their work relationships secondary. In particular, the privilege of discarding boundaries that separate individuals is exclusive to the primary relationship.
Peter and Alice: A non-sexual Love
Peter and Alice are medical doctors working for an international non-governmental organisation. They travel together to tough outskirts working under grueling conditions. They share exhausting work schedules, quick unsavoury meals, hours of journey on bumpy dusty roads, and even leisure activities that create further bonding. When they have an hour break for a walk they casually hold hands and look like a couple. However, an affair is the last thing they need as partnership looms for each. Peter is a father to two lovely kids in a happy marriage, and Alice knows in her heart Peter is not a husband material for her. Both admit a desire to enjoy the sexual spark between them, keep it within their agreed boundaries, and continue working together without falling in love or having sex. They consciously cultivated an intimacy that everyone came to recognise as special but not romantic.
Kemi and Victor: Success is sexy
Business couples work together to make their projects survive. They’re both unhappy when they fail, and happy when they succeed. They may travel together to clinch deals, they’re applauded, and often reminisce on victorious days together. To them, success at work is sexy!
A good example is Kemi and Victor who are close but not lovers. They’re development managers in a division of a toiletries and cosmetics company. They think out ideas and argue them out together, then defend their ideas with the passion of people who share insight. There's a bonding between them that goes beyond blending lotions and growing careers.
Sometimes the look of appreciation they give each other after completing an important assignment may seem to observers as romantic love. Their work in the lab is coordinated actions that grew over the years of close collaboration. They know each other so well and are able to predict every move which sometimes looks and feel personal. But it isn't, and they know it. When work ends, Kemi is totally absorbed in her own life with hardly a thought about her lab partner. Kemi shares romantic intimacy with another partner who knows her like no one else does, while Victor has a fulfilling personal life of his own.
Juliet and Mike: Fulfillment
Julie and Mike are non-loving intimates who both work as accountants for a conglomerate.They have a terrific work relationship but not love. Julie and Mike know what it feels like to be in love, and they never felt that way about each other. There’s attraction, admiration, and occasional lust, but never love. They care and appreciate each other as colleagues, even find each other sexy which makes them feel special. But that’s as far as it goes. When work ends and each depart to separate destinations, neither craves for the other nor gets jealous of the person each goes home to. Though in truth, the power of sexual attraction is not abated, they have gained more maturity and skill in managing it.
Company also benefits
Business couple non loving intimacy relationship at work is doable and surprisingly satisfying psychologically. Couples pursue their work with an abandon they never could afford if they were lovers who had to get along both at work and at home. They do genuinely inspire work together and truthfully passionate about it. However, with their creative energy flowing from a sexual attraction they’ve chosen not to indulge physically or force into love. They have friends and family at home, where they rejuvenate themselves.
Companies benefit from these highly motivated workers who are enthusiastic and happy. The business couple relationship enhances creativity, and partners are not deceiving anyone or stealing work time. They waste no energy feeling guilty. Non-sexual intimates willingly spend time together to achieve great results consciously avoiding behaviour that would threaten the relationship.
The business couple model promises legitimacy for what many men and women have felt but dared not admit or act on - the reality that sexual chemistry can be safely shared with a colleague and turn into a constructive role in their lives. It works because the days of insecure spouses who waited at home have passed with the influx of women in jobs. Simply put, husbands, wives, and lovers accept the fact that colleagues may be sorely tempted to become lovers, but more likely to settle for non-sexual love. The trust that may make a business couple a reality remains in its being the true measure of romantic fidelity.
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