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When you’re fresh out of college, it’s easy to get consumed with your job. And since you’re at work all the time, it’s easy to develop a crush on that cutie in the cubicle next door. But when the eye candy turns into a possible significant other, what’s the protocol? And how do you deal? Dating in your 20s is hard enough, but trying to have a relationship with your office crush is no walk in the park.

Like all relationships in your life, it’s important to have open lines of communication before you get involved with a co-worker. Before jumping into anything at work — whether it’s a casual fling or a full-time thing — make sure the lines of communication are open from the get-go. You don’t want to lose your job along with your heart in the process. So what to do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are three things NOT to do:

1. DON’T Go Overboard with the PDA. This should be a no-brainer, but when you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Obviously, this is a little different if you’re seeing someone who you also happen to have to see at work. Make sure to keep flirty G-Chatting to a minimum and never kiss or hang on each other during work hours. You don’t want to have to answer to your boss or miss out on a big promotion because people think you’re too distracted by things and can’t handle the task at hand. Also, if you are on the same team, make sure you don’t play favorites with each other. Issues can arise if others think you’re only picking each other because you happen to be dating. Avoid this at all costs.

2. DON’T Let the Personal Interfere with the Professional. When you make a conscious decision to date someone at work, you have to be able to separate your personal life from your professional life. Relationships have their ups and downs. You’ll have good days and bad days, but no matter what happens in your personal life, you can’t let it interfere with your professional working relationship. It could be as little as getting jealous of him having a meeting with another co-worker or as big as getting in a fight at work. Whatever it is, don’t bring it into the office. Period.

3. DON’T Jump into the Relationship Blindly. As mentioned earlier, communication is key. I’m not suggesting that this eliminates all drama that might come up, but it gives both parties a clear understanding of where they stand and what they want in the relationship. Just remember, tread lightly before taking the work relationship plunge. Think of your worst breakup ever and imagine what it would feel like to see that person every day in order to get a paycheck. Ask yourself if you’re willing to risk it. If you are, good luck and have fun. If not, wait until you clock out for the day to find your true love.

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By Maggie Grainger

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