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When office chemistry fizzles

26 November 2008

A researcher in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences wants to learn all about what happens after workplaces romances turn sour. By Reetu Singh

With the rising incidence of workplace romances, Ruth Byrne's research indicates that when business and pleasure do not mix, there is more than the bad aftertaste of a soured relationship to contend with.

"I'm exploring the personal outcomes for individuals involved in a failed workplace romance. Potentially the effects are enormous. Participants have described their emotional devastation, attempts to manage their professional relationship with their former partner, and how work relationships with other colleagues have soured due to the ending of romantic relationship," says Ms Byrne, a researcher in the School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine.

Currently in the midst of analysing interview transcripts and written accounts, Ms Byrne is still looking for participants. She is looking for substantial and convincing evidence of the devastating impact of failed workplace relationships on individuals and workplaces alike.

"I hope to provide individuals and organizations with guidelines on managing failed workplace romances, including coping strategies and interventions to assist affected people so that they can move on with their lives both personally and professionally," says Ms Byrne, who is conducting the study under the supervision of Dr Simon Moss.

After being in the workforce for a few years, Ms Byrne initiated her dream of becoming an organisational psychologist when attending a professional development seminar.

"At the seminar we had to nominate our ideal job and I recalled how much I had loved my organisational development subjects while undertaking my Marketing Degree", says Ms Byrne, who is currently undertaking a masters in this area.

To participate in Ruth Byrne's study, email To be eligible, the failed workplace romance must have ended in the last three years, but not within the last six months. You must be aged 18 years or over and available for a one-hour confidential interview in the Melbourne metropolitan area.


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