workplace breakup

Breaking up is hard to do and feels more unbearable when you’re forced to work with your ex. Since every relationship ends in heartbreak or marriage bells, why do we take the risk at work?

The answer may be in the time spent together. The average employed person spends seven to eight hours working per day, and a report from 2015 showed that only 24% of the workforce spent some or all of that time at home. This means that most of us are passing more time with our office mates than anyone else, and common interests or goals may cause the lines between professional and personal lives to blur. According to, 39% of its employees dated a coworker at least once during their professional career. Unfortunately, this can only mean many office breakups too.

Here are five steps to help you navigate the choppy waters of a workplace breakup.

Vent to Friends Who Don’t Work With You

Venting can help you feel better, but avoid doing it at work. Instead, why not meet your sister or childhood friend at one of your homes? If your best friend is the person sitting at the next cubicle, wait for after-work drinks or coffee to talk. Finding closure is important; but once you cross the office threshold, leave the tension at the door. At work you want to be known as the person who benefits the company, not the one who co-workers and supervisors associate with drama.

Be Respectful of Yourself, Your Ex, and Your Coworkers

Personal relationships can motivate us to work better, but they can also create an uncomfortable environment. It’s important to keep your eyes on the prize, and at work that means progressing the success of the company and earning a paycheck. No one will appreciate you for inhibiting either target. The best way to respect everyone, including yourself, is to arrive with a positive and assertive attitude. It’s not necessary to be Susie Sunshine, but you do need to be professional and add to a productive environment.


Remind Yourself of Your Ex’s Professional Strengths

Are you required to collaborate with your ex on a project? Is he or she your supervisor? If avoidance is impossible, remind yourself of the benefits to working with them. Perhaps their communication skills always win clients over, or their personality is perfect for calming tense environments. Remembering why you’re working with them in the first place can help put things into perspective. If you’re really strong, try complimenting them after a job well done. Not only will he or she appreciate the gesture (and possibly pay you a compliment in return), but it will show the office that you’re a composed and dependable professional.

Let Your Work Distract You

It’s normal that everything, from the lunch room to the water fountain, may remind you of your ex-love, but chase those memories away with your current task or project. Throwing yourself at your work will not only make each moment easier but help make the day go by faster. Before you know it, you’ll be able to return home and wallow with pizza, ice cream, and the Gilmore Girls revival (or any other way you prefer).

blond woman working on laptop

Worst Case Scenario, Consider a Move

Sometimes, a move can be the best decision for your mental, emotional, and professional well-being. Before spending your breakfast hour poring over the classifieds, however, consider all of your options. Are you in the best situation for career enhancement? Do you work in a large company with the opportunity for lateral movements? Remember, you may not need to leave the company to remove yourself from an undesirable situation.