Office Romance—Tips and Traps

Giving advice about love is as old as ... love.

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Trying to find a marketing tie-in to profit from the lovelorn may actually be older.

So as Valentine's Day approaches, job search firm has "advice" about falling in love at work without destroying the workplace environment or losing your job.

Many office romances at CNBC have developed into successful marriages. But often ... it doesn't work out.

What's the secret?

"Bill and Melinda Gates may provide inspiration," a CareerCast "study" reports. "Perhaps the most well-known and successful office romance in history, they met when Melinda began working at Microsoft in 1987, and they married in 1994. They now have three children and work together on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."

This is your best example?

I assume that Bill and Melinda Gates are bound by love and mutual respect, but perhaps a better example might not involve a billionaire.

"Other office romances that have turned out well include President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama," the company adds. Ok, I can buy that. The Obamas started dating when he was far from powerful. In fact, she had the upper hand--he was an intern at her law firm.

CareerCast points out several office romances which failed. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Here's a tip: doing a love scene with someone and having a little chemistry may lead you to think you're in love. You probably aren't. Imagine all the disastrous romances which would erupt in corporate America if people got paid to make out with each other. That's what actors do.

So, in order to be like the Gateses or Obamas, minus the billions and the White House, CareerCast gives tips on how to make an office romance work.

—Keep your involvement private until you’ve both determined that you’re in it for the long haul. (The problem: one person might think you're both in it "for the long haul" after one date.)

—Communicate clearly and directly with each other about how you should act at work. If you can’t come to an agreement and stick with it, you might want to reconsider your relationship. (Good luck with that.)

—Give each other space when you’re in the office. Don’t crowd each other or constantly check up on one another. (This nightmare scenario is the best argument against office love. "I just miss you soooo much!" "But I sit three cubicles down...")

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—If you have a boss-subordinate work relationship, consider transferring out of the same department so you’re not both put in a potentially risky situation with top management, who watch for potential legal landmines. (Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Anything remotely involving a "potential legal landmine" is code for "just say 'no'.")

Perhaps the best example of an office romance is Jim and Pam on "The Office". But it's not real.

And they're actors. We usually know how that ends up ...

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