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When Cupid takes aim at the office

Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

But if you love at work, you could lose it all: your job, your colleagues, your reputation, your career.

Like all enclosed social settings, the workplace can steam up into an irresistible incubator of amour fou, and career counsellors say as many as half of us are someday destined to catch a gulp of Love Potion No. 9 in the company coffee pot. But not all love stories come with a happy epilogue, and before you fall head over high heels for that workmate-slash-soulmate, take one last, sober look at where you’re tumbling from.

“Think about all the things that you want to be in your career,” warns workplace relationship expert Courtney Anderson, “and ask yourself how being perceived as someone who is more interested in romance than finance is going to help.”

It may help your colleagues spice-ify the drudgery of office routine.

“People love when co-workers date in the office, it gives them something to talk about,” author Helaine Olen of Office Mate notes. “What people worry about is the possibility that you’ll have a break-up.”

Or the possibility that you’ll have a one-up.

“People become jealous,” Anderson adds, “and not because they want to date your boyfriend, but because they’re coming to work early and doing 100 little tasks and you don’t really have to do that anymore because look who you’re dating.”

Every leap of the heart comes with a hundred risks, but if you’re already smitten, it’s likely already too late.

“Bottom line, it doesn’t matter what anybody says,” Anderson concludes. “If somebody gets struck with Cupid's arrow, that’s it. They’re just not going to listen.

Making A Move

There are less awkward locales than the office to swing for singles – like a public execution, maybe.

Outside of that, the realm of terse emails and cold-faced professionalism may be the planet’s most stifling, rejection-fraught place to proposition a date.

“If you’re going to ask someone in the office on date, make sure you ask them outside the office. Don’t just walk up to the desk and ask them out,” Olen cautions. “If you can’t find a way to ask them out for coffee naturally, that might be a sign that it isn’t meant to be.”

Keeping it secret

Think you’ve kept your crush on hush? Chances are, your puppy love is already out of the bag.

“Ninety-nine percent of people, when they’re in love, they’re glowing and everyone can see,” Anderson points out.

But that doesn’t mean everyone has to know – officially.

“If someone asks you point blank, don’t deny it, but you don’t need to send out an inter-office memo,” Olen says, offering a better way to break the news: “Show up as a couple at an after-hours function.”

And don’t report it, Anderson stresses, “until you have a solution.”

“If you’ve decided that the relationship is real, someone needs to transfer,” she says, “so that you’re both respected.

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