"Offices are often the easiest places to meet and fall in love," says Andrea Nierenberg, head of a consulting firm called the Nierenberg Group (www.mybusinessrelationships.com). "The important thing is to stay professional and keep romance in its place.... If you handle it carefully, you never know - yours might end up being one of the 22% of office romances that lead to marriage." And if not, well, at least you'll stay out of trouble.
She offers these three essential tips:
Don't mix business and pleasure. "Save romancing for breaks or after hours. Next time you come up with a cute nickname or amorous thought to share with your sweetheart during the workday, write it down in a notebook and save it for later." R-rated e-mails are always (no exceptions) a bad idea.
Know your company's policy on office romance. Some companies, for example, don't allow one member of a couple to report to the other. Bear in mind that, as far as your employer is concerned, "your dream romance can turn into a nightmare harassment case. Be aware of the legal issues, and act appropriately."
Keep cuddling out of the copy room. "People are rarely interested in watching their co-workers snuggle in the break room or fight between cubicles," notes Nierenberg. How true. "Colleagues will be much more likely to respect your relationship if you show discretion in how you behave around them."