jim and pam wedding the officeI'm a girl who reads career books, dispenses work advice to friends and regularly updates her résumé. So, when I started to have feelings for my co-worker I protested. Heavily. I tried to push fantasies of us in bed out of my head by listing reasons we would be terrible together. Thankfully, he realized "she doth protest too much" and decided to kiss me anyway. So there we were.

Once we got together I was determined not to have the relationship ruin my career, but I also didn't want to paralyze my relationship with worry. It's some tricky territory, but I've learned to navigate it well. Here are my instructions:

1. Wait for love (or extreme like). Dating a co-worker is not casual dating; it's a commitment. Do you fall in crazy lust one day but can't stand the guy the next? Then it's probably not a good idea to date someone you have to see every day; the breakup could be brutal. Don't rush into anything too quickly. Besides, if you do get together, all those months of sexually charged meetings will make the first time great.

2. Do your homework. Know your company's policy on dating, and do nothing that can get you fired. If they do not allow dating in the workplace, I wouldn't recommend going forward with the relationship. If there isn't a policy, proceed with caution to step three.

3. Check the ex-files. While I normally don't consider it a plus if a guy stays friends with his exes, in this case it's a huge benefit. Although you want to go in believing in your long-lasting love, you also want to be realistic. If it doesn't work out, you've still got to work together. If you both have a record of remaining civil with your exes, it offers some insurance against passive-aggressive post breakup meetings.

4. On-again, off-again. Regular couples are always on. Co-working couples are off at work and on in the "real world," so you've got to compartmentalize. Once the initial distraction of the relationship wears off you must get back to work. (And you might even find it easier to concentrate once the sexual tension has been, um, eliminated.) Don't bring up last night's minor tiff -- the worry will still be there at 5:00, or maybe it won't. Now that would be awesome.

5. Separation of work and date. It's about more then leaving your "work" at work. Co-worker relationships can easily get into a dating rut if you start considering grabbing lunch a "night out." Be clear as to what classifies as a "date" to you.

And don't forget the basics: no getting lucky in the cube!

Beth Brennan is the pseudonym used by Lemondrop bloggers and contributors when we want to write naughty stuff but keep our jobs/boyfriends/dignity.