Such examples are fairly clear—but "there are plenty of less clear-cut situations," Martin says."What if you had a brief sexual relationship with the applicant that ended amiably a year ago?We turn that off in the professional sphere," says Elizabeth Simmons, a theoretical physicist who serves as dean of Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing.Simmons and her husband each hold a professorship in MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, but they often collaborate on high-energy physics projects and jointly supervise graduate students and postdocs.Neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese lived with labmate Alessandra Umiltà for 2 years before colleagues figured out they were a couple."We were pretty good at keeping our private life separate from work," Gallese says. Eight years her senior, Gallese was an associate professor, also in Rizzolatti’s lab.This makes it all the more important for couples to make sure that each individual develops—and gets to be seen—as a successful scientist in his or her own right.
Some laboratory couples may be inclined to keep their romance a secret, especially at first.
But living a romance in the laboratory, as in any other workplace, is complicated.
There are rules to follow—but romance rarely follows rules.
You may be a couple at home, but in the lab you're colleagues.
"Often people who are in a life partnership may stand closer to their partner, they may touch their partner affectionately on the shoulder or give them a hug.