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No, Really: Avoid the Boss According to HR consultant Laurie Ruettimann, most written policies prohibit employees from dating only a direct boss or subordinate. Experts spoke with discourage manager-subordinate romances because they create the perception (or reality) of favoritism; in a worst-case scenario, both parties could be fired or dragged through a harassment lawsuit.And women are disproportionately judged for these relationships, whether they're the boss—"With great power comes great responsibility," warns Green—or if they're the underling."I did not ask, and I spent the next six months wondering if every work email he sent was a subtle invitation to get at it again," says Mia, 30, a management consultant in New York."None were, and my work life would've been better if I'd known that."__Don't Flirt (Too Much) __If you do decide to start a relationship, remember that others will probably pick up on the sparks.Jessica, 25, an antiques expert who moved across the country and, basically, in with a coworker, eventually realized that the relationship-job combo was dominating her new life."I hadn't made any female friends, and I missed that," she recalls."Reporting a relationship improves your odds of avoiding an awkward situation when word gets out," says Green. Jennifer, 25, an accountant, kept quiet about her relationship—until she and her boyfriend were assigned to the same project."HR reassigned one of us due to 'scheduling.' It actually let us tell people when we were ready, and any stress we felt went away."Be Aggressive About Boundaries It's natural to think about how an office romance will affect your career, but the fact that you work together will also affect your , so make sure to draw a line between work life and love life.
D., an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who studies office relationships."He needs, like, three feet of space in the elevator," she jokes.But their co-working is going smoothly as a result.Sarah, a 30-year-old graphic designer, met Matt through a colleague at the imaging tech company where they both worked."I didn't really notice him at first because he had a beard, and beards weren't my thing," she says.
Relationships with coworkers at your level or in different departments are less of a headache, and policies tend to reflect that.