Surveys show that office romance is on the rise, fuelled by -- of all things -- the recession.
"Think about it. People can't job hop, they work longer hours than ever before, they don't have much money for social life," says Stephanie Losee, co-author of "Office Mate: Your Employee Handbook for Finding -- and Managing -- Romance on the Job."
"Their dating pool is likely to be the office."
About half of all employees date someone they work with at some point in their careers. And, amazingly, 20 to 30 percent of office romances end up as marriages.
Of course, train wrecks still can happen, and, when they do, it's not pretty. Here are some ideas on how you can start -- and keep -- an office romance on the right track.
Tip: Office romance can be a delightfully sane way to meet your mate.
"It's usually based on a long foundation of friendship. You watch them in action, every day; they're really stripped of their defenses, so you see them as they are," says Losee.
Living proof: Anila Nitekman worked with a man she was always trying to set up with her friends. "I kept saying, 'He's such a great guy, so cute, and so sweet,' and then it hit me: Why was I trying to set up this great guy with someone else? Why not keep him for myself? The rest is history. I married my best friend."
Tip: Be very careful when it comes to boss-subordinate relationships.
Many companies even have a policy against them. This is the last-standing office romance taboo -- for a reason.
Living proof: Brenda (not her real name) dated her boss for two years. When they had fights, he would shut her out at office meetings and give her dirty looks. When they were doing well, he'd bring her flowers and rub her shoulders, even if someone was near. "It was uncomfortable either way," she said. "Eventually I just had it and quit him and my job."
Tip: Keep your work and personal life separate.
"You may have met at work, but you mustn't conduct your relationship at work," says Losee.
Living proof: Alex (not his real name) dated a coworker for a year. He called it off because of her harsh temperament. "She was livid. She emailed me nasty notes all the time. She'd come to my desk and make a scene." Eventually she got changed to a different branch. "I'll never date a colleague again. I learned my lesson."
You can't find office romance if you don't have a job. The surest path to a good job with good pay is to continue your education.