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Dating in the Office: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From flirtations in the copy room to after-work drinks that lead to a walk down the aisle, office romances can be an exciting -- if risky -- proposition.  

Some bosses say they’re not worth pursuing at all.

“It’s always better, if you can fall in love with someone, fall in love with someone from a different company.  It’s distracting, it’s disturbing, people don’t like it, and it’s not good for a company,” Donald Trump said in a recent interview with ABC's 20/20.

Still, others say that dating in the office may actually be good for business, particularly when such relationships make workers happy.

“I think happy employees equal higher profitability,” said Tom Szaky, CEO of the New Jersey-based recycling company Terracycle.  “Isn’t that what every CEO is in the business of?”

If you do decide to mix business with pleasure, here are some tips on how to do it while minimizing the impact on your career, from workplace author Caitlin Friedman:

1. Do take it seriously -- a workplace romance can have serious consequences for your reputation.  “It just makes people uncomfortable,” Friedman said.  “Even if they say they are O.K. with it, they’re not.”

2. Don’t have public displays of affection.  “Trust me, nobody wants to see it,” Friedman said.

3. Don’t travel for business together -- it can lead to troubling questions.  “Your receipts for the dinner out is questionable.  How much you spent on a bottle of wine during that dinner out is questionable.  You just don’t want to go there,” Friedman said.

4. Don’t talk about your relationship with your colleagues.  Although from a gossip perspective, your co-workers want all of the details but no matter what you say, you will be judged.

5. Do think about who will be impacted if the relationship goes south.  Are there clients you both work for?  People who report to you who would feel their loyalties tested if you broke up?

6. Don’t change your public persona when your partner is in the room, especially during meetings.  Everyone will be watching your dynamic, especially in the early stages of your relationship, so try to behave consistently.  For instance, don’t suddenly start agreeing with your partner if you hadn’t done so before.

7. Do check in with each other as the relationship progresses to see if it’s time to make a professional change.  If you are in this for the long haul, then maybe one of you should consider looking for a new job?

8. Don’t date someone who reports directly to you.  Even if it is consensual, you will be vulnerable to a sexual harassment suit.

9. Do consider keeping it secret for as long as possible.  It can be really satisfying and really fun to have a relationship that is just between the two of you.

10. Don’t move too fast.  Sure, you have lots in common already -- you share a company and colleagues.  But on an emotional level and on a personal level, you are still getting to know each other.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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