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How to avoid an office dating disaster

Before announcing your new beau, research your company's policy on the matter.

Though the latest news scandal involves high-ranking officials, keep in mind that the broad strokes of the Gen. Petraeus affair are not unlike typical office flings. Even if your transgressions won't make headlines, romance at work can be a dicey move if not properly handled. Learn to manage this delicate situation -- because even if you can't resist taking your chances with the cutie in accounting, you can minimize the fallout.

Before announcing your new beau, research your company's policy on the matter. "Don't date anyone at work if your employment contract forbids it. Your job will clearly be on the line with such a violation," says author Wendy Walsh, a contributor to Datingadvice.com.

If you do move forward, think about what the end of the relationship might be like. Nancy A. Shenker, co-author of "Don't Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube," says: "Think about what will happen after a breakup. It's hard enough seeing an ex on Facebook -- how will it feel to see him or her in person every day?"

If you're an employer who notices an office affair, know how to approach it. "Have a policy," suggests Todd Ewan, a partner at Fisher & Phillips law firm, which represents management in workplace disputes. "The employer will need to determine what it is willing to tolerate and not willing to tolerate. As a base point, most employers do not want to let a relationship exist between two employees if one of the employees has direct managerial responsibility for the other." julia west

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