What Is A Love Contract, And Do I Need One?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever heard of a love contract? This term often refers to an official legal document drawn up by an employer regarding an office romance between coworkers. By putting your love in contract terms your employer can ensure that your new relationship does not result in any conflicts of interest later on.  

While it may seem like your employer has no business getting involved in your personal life, love contracts are a common thing in many workplaces. If you’re involved or may become involved in a romantic relationship at your workplace, it may be beneficial to learn more about love contracts in case you’re asked to sign one.

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What is a love contract?

It might seem like signing a love contract is something that only happens in a dramatic TV show; however, love contracts can be an important part of a workplace and are not just something reserved for dramas. Also known as a “consensual relationship agreement,” a love contract is a legal contract that employees who are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship might be asked by their employer to sign.

The purpose of a love contract is often to safeguard the employees and the employer from potential legal damage. 

A love contract may help ensure that employees in a romantic relationship are in it consensually and that they aren’t being pressured into anything for fear of losing their job or experiencing other repercussions in their professional life. 

Common elements of a love contract

These contracts may also help guard an employer from sexual harassment claims and other legal issues that could eventually arise from the relationship or its ending. A love contract may include various sections, including the following.

A statement of consent

Suppose the individuals in the relationship sign a statement of consent. In that case, it may be more difficult for them to win a court case against a company in the future that claims the relationship was non-consensual. 

The contract may have information on withdrawing your consent officially in the future should your relationship later change or dissolve.

A declaration of rights and responsibilities

The rights outlined in this declaration may have to do with the rights you retain as a person in an office relationship. The responsibilities may detail your obligation to do your job as competently as you would if the relationship didn’t exist. 

There may also be an agreement that you won’t engage in intimate behavior on the job. You may agree that you won’t enter romantic or sexual relationships with a supervisor.

Conflict of interest guidelines

In some cases, a contract may be created to avoid a conflict of interest. For example, it may be problematic if a romantic relationship interferes with a company goal because one’s partner is favored over the best candidate. This section of the contract might outline the procedure for situations like these.

Acknowledgement of the company's sexual harassment policy

The contract may also include a section where both parties agree to abide by company policies related to sexual harassment.

Additional guidelines or stipulations may also be included at the company’s discretion. The company may strive to have clear documentation of the relationship from the start and ensure everyone agrees to a set of rules designed to promote the best possible outcome.


How common are love contracts?

Love contracts may not be typical. An article from the Society for Human Resource Management says that family and business lawyers familiar with love contracts often write fewer than a dozen a year. However, as consent becomes more widely understood, employers may choose to implement a contract or similar measures to guard themselves in case of a workplace romance. 

One survey found that more than half of employees reported having been involved in a workplace romance at some point. Almost three-quarters of them said they’d participate in an office romance again if the opportunity arose.

From the employer’s perspective, new legislation may also impact their decision to start requiring documents like love contracts. Bloomberg Law points out that the recent passage of worker-friendly state laws has made some employers look closely at their dating policies. 

States like California, New York, and Delaware have made it easier for workers to sue over sexual harassment allegations. As a result, more employers might require love contracts to decrease their liability.

Potential effects of office romances

There are a few reasons besides legal liability employers might want to enforce rules related to office romances. 

A romantic relationship in the workplace could negatively impact other coworkers or could lead to previous dramas being brought up. It could create an opportunity for other employees to perceive that you or your romantic partner get unfair advantages, such as knowing work-related news first because you’re involved with someone in management. It may increase their discomfort if you vent to them or tell them details about your relationship. 

If you break up, the relationship could put the employees or employer in an awkward position of having to choose sides or take over new job responsibilities so that you and your ex can avoid interacting. 

Romance may also have a negative impact on productivity. Excitement about it may make it hard for you to focus, or time spent interacting with your partner could detract from time you previously would have spent working.

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How do I know if I need a love contract?

Often, the employer requires that the two involved people sign a love contract, as opposed to the employees imitating such request. However, you may be able to request that one be drawn up if desired. Since a potential reason for creating a love contract is to keep the company legal, your employer may appreciate the gesture. Having a love contract could be a good idea to try and avoid awkward situations and help keep you safe after a potential breakup. 

If your employer proposes putting your love in contract, you may have to decide whether you will sign it. Some people may be hesitant simply because it could seem like a formal, unromantic concept to impose on a romantic dynamic. 

In some cases, a love contract might seem too serious for a more casual affair. Additionally, you may hesitate to allow your employer or others at work to get involved in your relationship, preferring to keep your individual life hidden. 

Depending on the circumstances, you may lose your job if you refuse to sign a love contract that your employer has mandated. You may want to seek professional legal counsel for advice on this situation.

Seeking advice and support through counseling

If you have questions or need advice about the legal elements of a workplace romance, consider seeking the help of a legal professional. Therapy may be beneficial if you’d like advice or guidance on sorting through your feelings related to an office romance or any other type of relationship. 

If you’re looking for emotional support related to a relationship, a trained therapist can help you analyze your feelings from a logical, balanced perspective and can help equip you with the tools and insights to make the right decisions for you. If you’re interested in the convenience of meeting with a therapist from the comfort of your home, you might give virtual therapy a try. 

Studies suggest online therapy can have similar benefits to in-person sessions. In one study, 71% of participants said they found it more beneficial. If you’re interested in trying online therapy to discuss relationship concerns, consider signing up for an online platform like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples. 


In some cases, a love contract may keep an employer from liability in the case of a workplace relationship. You may also want to impose a love contract for personal reasons at work, whether you’re currently dating someone or not. If you hope to find emotional support or therapeutic advice on any relationship concerns related to your job, you might also decide to reach out to a licensed counselor.

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