Along the lines of keeping things professional, in any office environment, there’s one more big thing you need to remember: don’t make it personal.
The fact of the matter is, you spend a lot of time in the office both with your significant other and your other coworkers. Chances are, you’ve developed a few friendships (and obviously one “more than friendship”) within your office. You may even hang out with those coworkers outside of the office. But despite the fact that you spend time with your coworkers outside of the office, your relationship is inherently different come 9am Monday morning (or whenever it is you have to roll in the door).
Just as it’s inappropriate for you and your man to start making out at your desk, it’s also inappropriate for you to involve yourself in issues that don’t involve you simply because they involve your significant other.
It’s one of the more difficult things to remember about being in an office relationship — particularly if you’re keeping it on the down low — but the issues that spring up between your significant other and a coworker in the office are not your problem.
If you work directly together, it can be difficult. You may hear your coworkers complaining about any number of things related to your significant other. It’s tempting to step in, defend their honor, and make a stand for your man (or woman). But it’s a fine line, because you could easily be accused of favoritism or sucking up, particularly if you have any managerial control regarding your significant other or vice versa.
The other thing to remember is that while you may try to mediate a dispute between your significant other and a friend outside of the office, that’s not your responsibility in the office. Your relationship is different inside those four walls than it is outside. When your significant other and a coworker have a dispute, particularly if you are also friends with the coworker, you don’t need to step in as the “good” girlfriend or boyfriend and apologize for your significant other’s actions or for the coworker’s actions.
Your job is not to mediate, apologize, and make everything all better. Your job is to do your job and keep things professional. If it’s a big issue, then hopefully they will be professional enough to discuss it with each other calmly and in private and work out the dispute on their own time. If the dispute continues to remain unresolved and tension in the office grows because of it, it still isn’t your problem. At that point it becomes the manager’s issue to deal with.
By all means, let your man or woman rant to the high heavens when they’ve had a bad day, just do your best to keep office life separate from personal life and try not to let your significant other’s opinions and experiences with one coworker characterize and color your interactions with them. Not everyone gets along, but just because your man doesn’t like the chick that sits in the cubicle behind you doesn’t mean the two of you can’t be friends and grab lunch together occasionally.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that you wouldn’t be able to mitigate an issue with a coworker if you worked in a different office, so why put yourself in the middle of it because you don’t? Most of the time people are strong enough to handle their own problems and stand up for themselves, but even if they aren’t, that doesn’t mean you have to.