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Rules dating colleague

An easy fix is to act professionally and, when you're together, keep the door open.

D., who studies workplace interactions at Maryland's Frostburg State University.

Relationships with coworkers at your level or in different departments are less of a headache, and policies tend to reflect that.

Still, dating at work can be a personal and professional minefield.

"I hate to be the legal buzzkill here, but these relationships can create problems," says Lisa Green, an employment lawyer and the author of spoke with real-life office daters and workplace experts to devise the ultimate dating-at-work survival plan.

"I didn't really notice him at first because he had a beard, and beards weren't my thing," she says.

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Nick,* 29, was surprised but pleased to be hired by his girlfriend's digital-media company, where several other couples worked together."The policy seemed to be: If you're dating and still doing your job, we don't care," he says.

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"We took things slowly because we were both very aware that we worked in the same office," she remembers.The truth is, "even if there are rules, people will hook up anyway," admits Green.Be Direct So what to do if you find yourself lusting after the project manager down the hall?But the caution was worth it: Five years after that first date, he proposed.A decade ago their romance would have been expressly forbidden."People are out with long knives for the happy couple," says Green.