Conventional wisdom tells us it's not a good idea to dip your pen in the company ink. But according to a 2008 survey from Vault, 58 percent of respondents reported doing just that -- by being involved in an office romance. While this figure is somewhat remarkable, considering the typical office's penchant for fluorescent lighting, it's easy to understand that the amount of time like-minded co-workers spend together can often lead to lasting relationships. Twenty percent of marriages stem from office romances, according to Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen, AOL Coaches and authors of Office Mate: The Employee Handbook for Finding - and Managing - Romance on the Job. While Losee and Olen are proponents of cubicle love -- both met their spouses at work -- they do caution that there are some rules you need to abide by to ensure that any office romance you embark on doesn't leave your career in shambles.
Eyes Wide Open
"If you have a [work] crush on someone above or below you, you better be able to see the whole thing in front of you, mortgage, kids, the entire future, including the consequences of it not working out," says Olen. According to Olen and Losee's research, most people are more cautious before getting involved in a long-term office relationship. "It's a myth that people get into an office romance without thinking about it," says Olen. "It's quite the opposite." Most people aren't even aware that a relationship is developing until they're actually in the throes of it, and many people find that rumors of their relationship precede the actual relationship by months or years.
The Love Contract
You should avoid dating your boss or a subordinate employee at all costs. But sometimes cupid's finicky arrow can't be helped. According to Vault's survey, 14 percent reported that they had dated a superior, while 19 percent have dated a subordinate. So if you're in an office relationship that bridges the corporate ladder, be prepared to sign a "love contract." The love contract is a piece of paper that companies may give a couple if one or both partners are in a position of high command in order to ensure that the relationship is consensual, says Losee.
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