Remember those little perforated cards you gave to all of your grade school classmates? You worried about which one to give your crush and whether he or she would give you one too. By now, you’ve graduated to real greeting cards and maybe even flowers and candy, but having a relationship with a person you spend your workday with is still fraught with peril. Here are some tips for negotiating the whitewater rapids of office romance:

  • Take your time—It’s very easy to get caught up in your emotions, but make sure you have thought through the consequences of starting a relationship before you jump in.
  • Check your company’s policy—Some workplaces have stricter rules than others regarding interoffice romance. You might be okay dating someone in a different department but not someone on the same floor.
  • Set some parameters—Public or private? Phone calls or email? Handshake or handholding? If you make decisions at the start, no one will get their feelings hurt later.
  • Sign a “Cupid Contract” recommends a written document between employees of different levels reflecting that the relationship is consensual, to avoid any appearance of harassment.
  • Talk to HR—Even if office relationships are not frowned upon, a little transparency is a good idea. Let your contact in Human Resources know that you are in a relationship.
  • What happens at home stays at home—Never let conflicts from your personal life come with you to the office. Keep professional behavior in mind at all times.

About a third of working adults will have a relationship with someone in the office at one point in their career. After all, these are the people we spend the most time with and get to know the best after our schooling is over. But all relationships take work and relationships at work take even more!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative