Consorting with Coworkers: Risk It or Nix It?

By , Columnist

Getting involved with coworkers is an understandable choice: you share the same job pressures, probably have similar interests, and are face-to-face on a daily basis. In fact, reported a survey last year revealed 38% of respondents said they've engaged in a random office hookup; 44% have an ongoing but casual relationship; and 32% have/had a long-term, serious relationship with a coworker. But on-the-job relationships can often go oh-so-wrong.

On the celeb scene, Chris and Rihanna, Jen and Brad (does anybody else remember the awkwardness of the 2009 Academy Awards? Eesh!), John Mayer and... well, everyone, really... have all made the decision to get involved with people in their fields and have all suffered the awkward aftermath. So it's worth wondering: should two people in the same field really get into a romantic relationship?

Personally, I've dated someone I worked with, broken up, and had to pay a hideously stressful price for my four-month relationship: having to see him each and every damn day. Sadly, that's something you'll have to deal with no matter what line of work you're in. But the thing is, as awkward and undesirable as the aftermath was, like 64% of people who have romanced on company time, I would (cautiously) do it again.

Whether you're a movie starlet or superstar in your field, there are a few guidelines to follow if you decide to pursue an on-the-clock relationship:

Be discreet!!!! Don't hook up at the office. EVER. Also, limit sappy or steamy exchanges to text messages, or else keep them out of the workplace altogether - always assume there is someone monitoring your inter-office communications.

Nix colleague involvement. Do not allow yourself to share all the goings-on in your relationship with your coworkers. Chances are, they not only don't care, but your constant dishing will lose you a measure of respect in their eyes.

NEVER DATE YOUR BOSS! says it best: "From arbitrary firings to rumors of favoritism to unofficially becoming the indentured office servant, sex with the boss is usually a lose-lose proposition." If you think you'd lose your coworkers' respect for sleeping with a colleague, your reputation will really crash when people find out that you've been giving head to the honcho. Just mentally chant "LEWINSKI" until you purge yourself of the urge to woo up the chain of command.

Think ahead. All relationships have similar possible outcomes. But as suggests, ask yourself: "Will the person you're crushing on be a good-natured trouper if things don't work out? Or will they ridicule you at staff meetings and sabotage your projects at every opportunity? If it's the latter, then perhaps you should try fixing them up with the new girl who's been eyeballing your promotion. Hey, what are co-workers for?"

So, get it or forget it? The choice is a personal -- and professional -- one, but 64% of people say they've gotten it and would gladly get after it again. If you decide to side with the majority, be smart, be careful, and have fun... but not too much. least while you're clocked in.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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