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December 31, 2009

5 Tips for Navigating an Office Romance

man and woman making out between shelves of files
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Dating blogger Maura Kelly shares her tips for avoiding the dangers of an office romance. For more from Maura, check out her blog: A Year of Living Flirtatiously

It's clear that dating someone you work with could be a large-scale disaster. If things go bad, there will be no avoiding the person in question. A bad breakup affects your concentration at work regardless, but if you have to see the bozo who has caused your misery EVERY DAY — during every single staff meeting, no less — it's going to be excruciating.

So if you're going to do it, here are a few things to keep in mind to minimize the damages:

As Ask Men points out, having a big office will make it easier to keep a distance from the person in question if things don't work out, whereas a tiny office could help to make things mighty uncomfortable.

The person you're having nookie with is the head honcho — or your underling? That could have a damaging effect on your career, as an Excelle article notes. "If the focus of your desires is in your line of authority, such as your boss or your subordinate, you're on very risky ground," Jerry Talley, a former Stanford professor and therapist, tells Excelle. "People can lose jobs and get sued. Best to keep your feelings to yourself." In other words, it's a safer bet to date someone who is on the same level as you — a fellow account executive, fellow marketing associate, fellow teacher, etc. Or, even better, date someone from another department: that cute guy you are always bumping into at the coffee station, or the adorable girl who always seems to be getting into the elevator just when you are.

Help minimize any potential damage by zipping your lip about the whole business till you and your office-mate are officially, like, going steady. So, hold back from sending that inter-office memo about how the IT guy finally asked you out. That way, if the two of you get wasted on tequila shots and end up sleeping with each other on the first night, only to regret it immediately, no one else has to know what went down. And even if you're going on Date #10, there's no reason anyone else in the office has to know about it.

Some companies have strict rules against employees dating each other. So, before you get yourself in head over heels, you might want to have a confidential, professional meeting with your HR liaison. No need to name names; just ask what the company's policy is.

If there's any chance you or your workplace love are going to be transferring offices, moving to a new company, or taking off to start grad school any time soon, do your best to wait before firing up the romance grill.

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