The workplace is the No. 1 place for men and women to meet and mate nowadays, say the experts. If you haven't met the love of your life at school, you're more likely to meet him at work than anywhere else.
But if you're dating -- or about to date -- someone in your office, don't be lulled by this fact of life of the '90s. Remember: Most bosses still would rather you didn't.
Even in today's atmosphere of increased tolerance of interoffice dating, you and the man who's making your palms sweat will have to demonstrate every day that your personal relationship is just that -- personal -- and has nothing whatever to do with your performance on the job.
Besides keeping in mind that love and lunacy have more in common than first letters, here are some things you can do to keep love from lousing up your job -- and your job from lousing up your love:
* Stay sane. There is going to be life after him; even if you end up living happily ever after, you won't always feel like a twittlepated teen-ager at the mere mention of his name. Make sure that you have a job -- and a life! -- when this initial meeting and mating frenzy dies down.
* Don't try to hide your relationship. Everyone will know about it anyway, and you'll just look silly. But on the other hand, be careful about physical or verbal displays of affection. Hardly anyone is charmed by the sight of two people smooching during business hours.
* Stay in touch with the rest of the office. Once we become involved with a co-worker, we're likely to stop spending coffee breaks, lunches, Friday get-togethers and the like with our other friends and co-workers, so we can spend time alone with him, him, him -- or her, her, her.
This is dumb, dumb, dumb.
* Make sure you're not a notch on his bedpost -- and he's not a notch on yours. Outside the work place, your social and sexual behavior is your business. In the workplace, it's everyone's. Sexually promiscuous behavior is definitely not OK nowadays, in or out of the workplace.
* Set guidelines ahead of time about shop talk. Decide with your new love interest how much shop talk you'll engage in and the need for both of you to be discreet about workplace information.
* Make sure you can trust this person. The advantage of dating someone at work is that you're likely to know more about him than you would if you'd met in a bar, or in a class, or even through a mutual friend. You've had a chance to see how he operates, what his values are, how he treats other people.
Use this information before becoming involved in anything more than a lunch date with him!
If he's a sleaze at work, he'll be a sleaze in your relationship. If he uses and abuses others in his business dealings, he'll use and abuse you, too.
* Finally, make sure you can trust yourself. Do you turn into a blithering idiot when you fall in love? Are you into fatal attractions? Do you become possessive and jealous when you fall in love? If you "lose it" when you fall in love, office romances are not for you. Counseling, on the other hand, might be.