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How To Date A Coworker

Behold, the rules for pulling off a workplace romance. Now, you can't say that you didn't get the memo!

If you’re crushing on a colleague, you’re not alone: A CareerBuilder.com survey found that 40 percent of workers have dated someone on the job during their career, proving that the office is a hook-up hot spot, albeit one with parameters. Here, advice for turning a flirtation into a potential relationship.

Testing The Waters

Before making a move, it’s a good idea to suss out whether your work crush has the hots for you, too. Some tip-offs are “if he starts hanging around your work space a lot or asks you to grab lunch or after-work drinks,” says Stephanie Losee, co-author of Office Mate.

It’s also promising if he’s in an unrelated department yet asks your opinion on a project of his—it indicates that he is looking for an excuse to talk to you and values your opinion, notes Losee. You can do your own digging by jokingly saying “Everyone thinks we’re seeing each other, ha-ha. Crazy, right?” If he casts a wide grin or seems into the idea, the coast is clear to start flirting and see what happens.

Avoid Getting Busted

Once you’ve gotten together (we know you’ll be able to work it), keep mum about it. “If it turns out to be a two-week fling, nobody needs to know about it,” says Helaine Olen, co-author of Office Mate. And, monitor how often  you bring him up. Olen says ­coworkers often intuit a liaison when one ­person mentions the other too frequently—for example, “Here’s that report....Jon helped with the graphics” or “Where’d you go for lunch? Oh, Jon loves that place!”

But if you were chummy ­before, don’t ignore him now—that draws more attention than the ­occasional friendly moment does. No matter how covert you are, people are likely to catch on, but there’s no need to broadcast it.

When To Come Clean

Most companies are lenient about dating (except between supervisors and their subordinates), says Lois Frankel, PhD, author of Stop Sabotaging Your Career. “They recognize its ubiquity.” But, there may be rules about whom you have to inform and when.

If it gets serious (that is, it’s going on for several months), it’s wise to tell your boss—even if you don’t have to—before she hears it from someone else, notes Frankel. Just say “I wanted to let you know that Carlo and I are dating. We’ll be sure not to let it ­interrupt our work.”

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