My company is hiring one of my ex-flings. We were involved with each other for ~3 months, and broke up in mid 2018. On my part there are no feelings involved and working with him won't be a problem. I'm not 100% sure on his side, he hasn't contacted me since then and hasn't brought this up at all. However, I was the first person he has dated on over a decade and I don't know how "over" this he is, even though I have no evidence to say that he is still hung up on this.

I don't think he will cause any problems to me in the workplace as well. We would occasionally work together, but not often and not directly. We would be part of the same team.

Should I tell my boss that this happened in the past or should I shut up about it?

I'm not on the interview panel. My employer is aware we know each other but I had already stated that I don't know him in a professional context at all.

  • 4
    Hi @Lisa, I edited one of your comments into the question itself - comments sometimes get deleted or ignored, so it's important to include relevant details in the body of the question.
    – dwizum
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 15:08
  • 3
    This isn't what you asked for, so I won't write it in an answer, but: It might be a good idea to disclose to the candidate that you work here (for example, by passing by the conference room and "saying hi" to him when he is invited to an on-site interview), before he decides to accept the job. You say that you don't have a problem working with him, but he (or his current partner) might.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 9:04
  • If you don't tell your boss, is there a chance that he will?
    – John Wu
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 12:08
  • I don't think he will and he knows I work here :-)
    – Lisa
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 10:13

3 Answers 3


What happens in your personal life isn't really your bosses concern, even in this situation. All you can do is keep things professional your side. I wouldn't go and tell the boss about it.

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    Unless they are being asked to be on the interview panel - that could be conflict of interest.
    – Smock
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 14:21
  • I'm not on the interview panel! They are aware we know each other but I had already stated that I don't know him in a professional context at all
    – Lisa
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 14:44
  • assuming you were for a second, procedures for conflict of interest should be stated in the company handbook however, all you would need to say is: "I know them personally" - end of. I disagree with disclosing the exact nature of your relationship, that is your personal business.
    – flexi
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 16:29
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    Or more generally, if either of them were in a supervisory position over the other, it could be awkward. Not just the original hire, but at any time. Usually companies try to avoid it.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 21:07

The comments on this post are correct: It's relevant if and only if your paths will cross sufficiently that it could open the company up to claims of unfair procedures. If he is your direct or indirect report, if you would potentially be responsible for some form of disciplining him for his decisions in the workplace, or if you would be involved in determining whether or not he got the job-- all of those could result in him suing for unfair practices at the company. It doesn't mean that he'd win any of those suits-- it would be notoriously difficult to prove that you acted unprofessionally unless there was written documentation-- but it would look bad for you and the company if the relationship came up and you had not come forward about it. Most likely, it would have a negative impact on your career if there was some way that it was relevant and you had not come forward.

My personal opinion is that it's a better idea to disclose it to your boss, in writing, and make it their problem. Now someone else has to worry about ensuring that you're not placed in a potentially compromising position relative to your ex. This is also useful in case somewhere down the line, one of you shifts departments/earns a promotion, and you find yourselves in one of those professionally compromising situations, or if the ex behaves inappropriately towards you and you need to file for disciplinary action against them. I think you can remain professional by telling your boss something like, "I think it's in everyone's best interest for me to convey to you that I was previously romantically involved with this person prior to his employment here. We're not currently involved, and I have no interest in getting involved again. I just wish to share this information so that we can avoid a potentially litigious situation in the future where that relationship might open us up to claims of unfair treatment based on the relationship. I would appreciate you exercising discretion in sharing this information with other team members."

That being said-- this is your personal life, and you have a reasonable right to privacy. You did nothing wrong by having a relationship with this person, but it is reasonable and understandable if you do not wish to convey this information when it is not presently relevant, and may never be relevant. Should things change and you are in a position where you need to reveal your past relationship, you'll probably be asked why you didn't say anything earlier. It's reasonable to say that it wasn't relevant earlier, and you wished to keep your private life and your work life separate.

Because human beings are irrational creatures, there's a chance that this could have negative consequences for you. You'll have to use your own best judgement about how your higher-ups would react to you telling them something like this later on. Certainly some offices will have your back and agree with you that you had no obligation to share your personal life. Unfortunately, I know some of the crummier places I've worked in the past would apply unearned and unflattering social stigmas for it, even though they would have no merit. Most likely those insinuations would be verbal, and HR would just say "I've written them a strongly worded letter saying that they should not do that" as those unscrupulous individuals continue to harass you and damage your reputation. Obviously that could affect your quality of life at work and your reputation within the company.

  • 2
    Good answer. Financial oversight is another situation where disclosure could be important - if I'm in charge of vetting somebody's expenses, and it turns out they've been embezzling, the prior relationship is a bad look.
    – G_B
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 0:49

My employer is aware we know each other but I had already stated that I don't know him in a professional context at all

This is all that matters here.

Your employer definitely needs to know that you know the candidate personally so they can make appropriate decisions about your involvement in the recruitment process. But that's the extent of it. The specific details of your relationship with/to the candidate aren't or shouldn't be important to them.

On the part about worrying about your working relationship

I don't think he will cause any problems to me in the workplace as well. We would occasionally work together, but not often and not directly. We would be part of the same team

This is a question of broader professionalism. I think you know it's absolutely not ethical for you to step in and hinder this person's chances of getting the job, based on only hypothetical concerns.

If you have real, concrete concerns now based on actual behaviour, then yes you must mention it, but that doesn't appear to be the case. My advice would be to go with your gut on this one, and step out of the way.

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