There are numerous blogs, columns, and articles regarding the ins and outs of personal romantic relationships. In recent years, the topic of these articles has shifted from the analog courtship to the nuances of relationships in the digital age.
One of my favorite Sunday columns in the New York Times, for example, “Modern Love,” has featured countless articles about online dating, the ethical dilemmas of being able to google someone prior to a date, and the travails of long distance relationships initiated through an online connection.
Every now and then a Modern Love column gains traction, as the topic strikes a sometimes vulnerable or heartfelt chord with its audience. This happened a few weeks ago, when a writer talked about her experience in being “ghosted,” i.e. the act of being broken up with by one partner simply “disappearing.” Numerous articles in the Times ensued, eliciting people to tell their own “ghosting” stories, and what it means to be entirely non-accountable in the age of social media and the omnipresent access to cell phones.
What is interesting to me is that I’ve rarely seen these columns address the topic of platonic workplace relationships, and the ability for those professional, mentor/mentee, peer-to-peer, and co-worker/friend relationships to evolve and change, or, to be lost or, in a sense, “ghosted” once an individual leaves one workplace for another.
A few months ago, a former colleague and I mused that, when intellectualized, it can seem strange that professionals’ spend the majority of their waking hours with an assortment of co-workers rather than with one’s family and friends. Regardless of how separate one chooses to keep their personal and professional lives, these daily collaborators and like-minded individuals become important voices and interactions in the DNA of our day-to-day, and undeniably play an important role in the fulfilment many people seek by choosing to work in a collaborative office environment.
Having recently switched jobs, I’ve experienced the interesting process of leaving one work environment and daily cast of confidantes and co-workers for an entirely new set of faces. I have not “ghosted” any of my former co-workers by any means, but what is interesting is that in switching workplaces, one must accept that the daily relationships that have been forged by the simple nature of seeming people 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week will inevitably evolve and change.
While friendships that transcended work have easily translated beyond the structure of “place,” it is interesting that in inviting professional change, we also bring about personal change.
Like most big decisions, the outcomes are varied and nuanced. I would argue that while transitions take time and serve as a healthy and humbling reminder to be patient, a tangible benefit of pursuing new opportunities is the notion that there are new professional relationships to be forged, viewpoints to learn, and processes and related outcomes to explore.