As Valentine’s Day is coming soon, we decided to share true stories of Asians who have had office relationships. We talked to Lina*, a woman in her 20s from the banking industry, who decided to date a coworker discreetly.
I first met Andrew at a company event. I was helping run the event, and he was the event photographer. I was instantly intrigued because I like doing event photography, myself.
When I had some free time, I made it a point to go talk to him. I found out he was caring – the first thing he asked me was if I had eaten. We then talked about photography, and it was clear he was very skilled at his craft.
I could tell we had some chemistry, because the conversation kept flowing and we started talking about our lives. He had plans to start his own business, and I was really attracted to his ambition.
We didn’t get to talk too much during the event, as we had to do our own duties. However, we kept catching ourselves glancing at each other throughout the night. He was intriguing to me, and I liked that he seemed to be interested in me as well.
At the end of the event, I told him that I wanted to see more of his work and maybe keep in touch, so we exchanged numbers.
My colleagues could tell that we were interested in each other but I denied it, because I knew it would be frowned upon if we dated. However, I knew I would much rather live life thinking ‘Oh crap’, instead of ‘What if?’
Besides, it made sense to me for coworkers to date. Reason being, you see your coworkers more than your own family. You spend more time at work than you do with friends. And so it is natural to form strong bonds with a colleague and maybe even fall in love.
Hence, we decided to date and keep it discreet.
We really hit it off. He was shy and had a gentleman’s charm, which is so refreshing. We both loved photography, and it was fun taking photos with him at my side. We made each other really happy.
The biggest con was that we had to sneak around and be on constant alert when in public, to make sure no one we knew was around. However, I can’t deny that it added a thrill as well.
Things were going very well for a few months. Then, the ‘oh crap’ moment came.
I took a really nice photo of Andrew and he used it as his profile picture. Unfortunately, a colleague with really sharp eyes recognised the photo’s style as mine.
He had his suspicions that we were dating, from seeing how we acted, and that profile picture confirmed those suspicions. So he threatened to tell the boss that we were seeing each other.
We were afraid. We didn’t want to sacrifice our jobs, and we didn’t want to stop seeing each other either. However we had to face the music, so we broke up.
I really felt crushed by the breakup. It hurts thinking about when I have to see him at future work events.
If I had the chance to do this all over again, I would not have rushed into dating just like that. I would have much rather focused on building a friendship instead. It would have probably saved me a lot of tears and heart pain.
And if I still ended up feeling an undeniable connection with him many months or even a year later, that might be a different story.
That possibility will forever be a ‘what if’ on my mind. But I don’t want to dwell on that, so I take comfort in the fact that I lived, loved and learned.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.