From scandalous incidents of fellatio in the Oval Office to relatively tame acts of passion between interns in the employee break room, workplace romance is just about as common and predictable as a bi-weekly paycheck.

Naughty secretaries. Sleazy, suited-up bosses. In our modern world, coquetry between coworkers occurs in basically every working situation imaginable. So how to engage in this precarious behavior without destroying one’s life? Here are a few tips for avoiding the potential inter-office-sex-life shitstorm.

Rule 1: Don’t do it.

Just kidding. Kind of. Before you start exchanging saliva with someone who you are paid to spend virtually every day with, please consider whether or not you will still want to swapping spit with them a year from now. Also consider, if you aren’t still exchanging bodily fluids with them, whether you’ll still want to see them, every single day. These are a couple of possibilities worth pondering. They may seem like common sense, but, well, people are stupid. In fact, stupid is a bit of an understatement. Humans are idiotic, impetuous and likely to recognize the convenience of banging the girl from Human Resources before realizing she may possess the power to screw over your professional future when you don’t call her back.

In the words of William Congreve, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and in the words of Robin Williams, “God gave men a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.” In essence, the first rule is: think. Don’t be a fool. If you can’t wait until happy hour to find someone to fool around with, you may have bigger problems at hand. When handled properly, workplace relationships can be fucking glorious. However, there are brutal consequences for those who fail to intelligently handle their personal lives.

Rule 2: Separation of Bedroom and Break Room.

If you are going to hook up with your coworkers, try to avoid any quickies on top of the fax machine. They only work in movies. Likewise, any extracurricular activities under desks or in cubicles are out of the question. If you work in the hospitality industry or retail, don’t think you’re exempt from this rule. Stock rooms and employee bathrooms may seem like totally romantic venues for your next romp, but the truth is, any sort of sexual advances or romantic gestures in the workplace are a bad idea. If your office squeeze is upset you don’t want to participate in this behavior, dump him or her. You’re obviously dealing with a jerk and have already broken Rule 1.
In workplace relationships, separation is crucial. Give each other a break, and eat lunch with someone other than your lover—you spend enough time together outside of work and shouldn’t be talking about your personal life on the job anyway. Any pending emotional buildup from either party in the relationship needs to be addressed elsewhere. Basically, couples need to put on a professional mask and leave the sappy shit at home.

Rule 3: Discretion.

The less your coworkers know, the better. This is where men are a little better at handling workplace romance than women. Unlike men, women seem to have trouble keeping things to themselves. Men may boast about their sexual endeavors, but women will share every detail—good and bad—with anyone who will listen. So try your best to avoid this, as painful as it may be. The success of an inter-office hookup is directly related to the amount of discretion exercised by both parties.

In the case of dating superiors, discretion is absolutely crucial. Your best work friend can turn into your worst enemy when he or she discovers you are screwing the boss. Whether or not favoritism is evident, knowledge of such a relationship breeds a certain kind of resentment amongst coworkers that’s hard to get clear of. So before you boast about your bedroom tricks in time for the coveted holiday bonus, make sure no one is aware of your relationship with a superior. Any respected professional should know to honor Rule 2 and grant any sort of work-related award based on professional performance as opposed to sexual performance, but when other people become aware of additional activity, it can be nearly impossible to comfortably support your professional decisions.