Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Marshall Prisbell


This thesis examined why and how organizational romance participants keep their relationships secret. Disclosure to others in the organization was also examined. The literature review focused on definitions and antecedent conditions of organizational romance, the decision to enter into the relationship, internal dynamics of the relationship, external impacts of the relationship, coworker reaction, and management's perspective. The first research question asked why do organizational romance participants keep their relationship a secret from others? The second research question asked how do organizational members keep an organizational romance secret from fellow associates?! The third research question asked what behavioral changes occur amid trying to keep an organizational romance secret? The fourth research question asked how do participants decide if and at what point to reveal the relationship to others in the organization? Ninetynine graduate students were asked to complete a questionnaire containing a hypothetical case scenario. In response to the first research question, intra-office gossip was the primary reason, cited by respondents, for keeping a relationship secret. Respondents were also concerned over others' perceptions of favoritism. In response to the second research question, respondents indicated it was important to maintain a professional demeanor at work, avoiding any public displays of affection. With regard to the third research question, respondents recommended avoiding one's partner at work, as well as cutting off social ties with office friends and coworkers. Finally, in response to the fourth research question, the majority of respondents felt disclosure was inevitable, simply due to the serious nature of the relationship. Although, some respondents adhered to the notion that a personal relationship is a private matter and should not ever be disclosed. Discussion, interpretation of results, and direction for future research are explored.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2000, Debra R. Kelly