Love Work: The Unwritten Rules

A perspective on same-sex dating in the workplace.

"Dating is not the first priority of gays and lesbians in the workplace," says Laura Grotz, 40. "We're here to do a job — we're your business partners and we want to be seen that way."

Although romance is not a high priority, Grotz concedes that when opportunity knocks, it can often be at work. Grotz tests software for network-management systems at Pacific Bell and is one of the founders of the company's Gay and Lesbian Employee Association. In her 23 years there she's had two relationships with women from work.

What is it like to have relationships with women from work?

I had good experiences and bad. My first gay relationship started here and it broke up here., too. When you work in the same place it make sit really, really awkward. Breaking up brings on a whole lot of emotional issues that now have to be dealt with on the job.

Did you think about whether starting a relationship with a woman from work was a safe thing to do?

It was 1972, and at that time the company wasn't very progressive. We tried to keep it closeted, but people knew. I was young and in love for the first time and I didn't care. Not until I went through the breakup did it occur to me that going out with someone from work might not be such a great idea. The whole experience made me think long and hard about entering into another relationship on the job. So I started to watch my straight counterparts to see what they did. There are a lot of couples here, but most of them don't work in the same department.; if you do, one of you transfers out.

Having a relationship with someone from work who's still in the closet must be awfully tough.

Living a double life always complicates things. It takes up a lot of energy that you could better use toward your job and your home life. I'd advise against having that kind of relationship — it's a big distraction."

Coordinates: Laura Grotz, lygrotz@pacbell.com

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