DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a third-year associate at a law firm and have been working closely with a partner on an upcoming case. He is in his early 30s and is not married. I think I have feelings for him, and I'm pretty sure he has feelings for me. Would it be completely unprofessional to tell him how I feel, or even go on a date? I value and love my job and have the utmost respect for my fellow workers, but I also think I owe it to myself to explore this relationship. We wouldn't have to tell anyone about our relationship. What do you think I should do? -- A Case of Love, Atlanta
DEAR A CASE OF LOVE: Is there an employee handbook at your company? If so, take a look to see if there is a policy on employee dating. If there is no restriction, I suggest you proceed with caution. While it is wise to be discreet about any relationship that may develop between you, know that someone will figure it out. The electric energy that exists between people who like each other, especially at the beginning of a relationship, is detectable, even when they are attempting to rendezvous secretly.
If you two decide to date, do so off premises. Keep your professional relationship professional. Do your jobs in a focused, respectful manner. Make your job performance above reproach. Agree on the front end that if you do decide to date and the day comes that the relationship ends or that you experience conflict, that you will continue to be respectful and mature. Give it a chance -- with your eyes wide open.