Business and pleasure can go hand in hand and not be a real threat if carried on cautiously and wisely. Many long-term relationships start at the workplace since you spend most of your time at your work place. Hence it is quite natural that you will get to know your colleague more closely and intimately.

Office romances can work, but you and your colleague must be subtle about it. Here are some guidelines on how you can give the relationship a real shot, while keeping a lid on possible problems.

Understand the consequences

Work rivalry can get in the way. For example, if a superior is dating a subordinate, there may be unkind gossip about favouritism, discrimination and prejudice. The office grapevine can be malicious so be prepared to deal with it.

Test positive
Your hands may brush against each other when papers are passed. You may lean a little too closely when discussing some project. Do these suggest deeper interest? With an office romance, you have to be very sure that your interest is mutual. As embarrassing as it may be potentially, you just have to talk it out with each other.

Be Discreet
While you may be in seventh heaven and want to share your joy with your buddies at work, don't. Keep details of your love life private. If someone probes, just change the subject.

Maintain formality and distance
This can help you maintain your professionalism. Also, you won't cross the line between your work and private life, so you can maintain your colleague status more easily. Believe it or not, it can actually help keep that romantic feeling going between the two of you. Be conscious not to increase the amount of contact with your partner at work -- don't lunch together more often than you did, or leave together after work.

Don't let your work suffer under the weight of long lunches, tea breaks and conversations in the office pantry. You don't want to incur more hostility from your colleagues about your relationship with your partner. On the other hand, you may look forward to going to work now, and find new enthusiasm for your work.

Trust your partner

Because you may want to keep your relationship under wraps for a while, you must be prepared for other colleagues who may unknowingly flirt with your new partner. Don't lose your cool and trust your partner completely.

Office policy

Check your company's policies on dating a co-worker. If your boss is unhappy, you may want to ask for a transfer or change in workstations to minimise contact with each other on an official basis.

Breaking up
This is always hard to do because you still have to face each other every day, work together on projects or worse, go on business trips together. While you may not lose your job over your break-up, you may find it hard to keep going. But if you have played it cool at work and no one caught on about your relationship, you should do well.

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