You can't stop thinking about the person down the hall. You spend extra time in the mornings deciding what to wear because you want to dress to impress. You have never loved your job as much as you do now. "You complete me..." you think to yourself, as you pull your car into the office parking lot.

Stop.

Proceed no further until you have read this blueprint for successfully navigating an office hook-up.

Office romances have always been romanticized. Who wasn't rooting for Pam and Jim on The Office?

And there are certainly many success stories. In fact 16 percent of people surveyed met their spouse at work, according to a Vault.com survey of almost 2,300 participants. The most amorous professions and industries? Retail (62 percent surveyed said they had a relationship with a co-worker), tech (60 percent), human resources (57 percent), and insurance (54 percent).

The least amorous industries are accounting, healthcare, energy, and finance or banking. So, yes this can work out for you, but it's important to play it cool--and smart.

1. Know the rules

Check your company policies. I know that the last thing you want to think about is playing by the rules, but if your company has a "No Fraternization" policy, you could get fired on the spot.

And trust me... as the former CEO of a 21-year old company who has seen just about everything, the owners WILL find out. (When your HR Director shows up at your house on a Friday afternoon, and says, "You may want to have a glass of wine with what I'm about to tell you..." you know it can't be good. The whole scenario was so complex that it merited its own Visio flowchart but that's a story for another column).

2. Tread carefully when getting involved with a superior or someone who reports to you

Mixing business with pleasure is especially risky when you mix levels of seniority. Execs are privy to confidential information that they may be inclined to share when they are thinking with their hearts, rather than their heads. If the relationship doesn't work out, sharing that information could jeopardize the company and your job.

3. Maintain your social life outside of work

Do not make your office romance the center of your existence. Nurture your other relationships, even if it's easy and convenient to hang out with your office partner every night.

4. Maintain your work performance

Whatever happens with your relationship, your career is going to continue to progress. No relationship is worth a decline in your boss's or co-worker's trust. It's very difficult to regain respect once you've lost it.

5. Maintain complete professionalism at all work functions

Remember that you represent your company brand at all professional functions, at all times.

6. No matter what, take the high road

Whatever happens, be professional. Unless you have a new job lined up, you're going to have to face your ex every day. Companies do not like messy situations, Even the smallest distraction can cause huge problems. Do not create an unnecessary problem for you, your ex, or your company..

Employers: Office romance is here to stay...

Millennials thoroughly welcome office romances. 84 percent of Millennials (ages 18-29) surveyed embrace the idea, compared to just 36 percent of Generation X workers (ages 30-46) and 29 percent of Boomers (ages 47-66).

As our our largest population, Millennials will be dictating the workforce trends for decades to come. If you want to attract them to your workforce, it's important to maintain policies and a culture that they believe in.

Whichever role you are playing, best of luck--and Happy Valentine's Day!

Published on: Feb 14, 2017