Amaya Lopez offers lovestruck colleagues a 10-step guide on how to avoid losing your job and breaking hearts

That frisson of excitement you felt when you met across a crowded photocopier is starting to develop into something more meaningful. Going to work each morning has become a joyous experience, and your exuberance is starting to show. But how should you play it? And what will you do if it all goes horribly wrong?

lovestruck colleagues

1 Never toy with emotions Only get involved romantically with someone at work if you are seriously interested. Innocent flirting is all very well but take it further flippantly and lord knows what frightening repercussions it may have. Beware of the bunny boiler, the serial stalker or the trophy hunter. And if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen/canteen/store cupboard asap.

2 Do your research Most women don't need to be told this, but for all those hopeless males out there, it's a good idea to check out your intended's personality, so that you can be sure he/she is worth the effort. Ultimately, it's best never to have a relationship at work if you can avoid it. Especially with your boss.

3 Try to make sure they don't have a wife/husband/partner You don't want to be beaten to a pulp in the office.

4 Try to make sure you don't have a wife/husband/partner Unless you want your entire wardrobe shredded and your company car keyed.

5 Be discreet If you are in the early stages of a romantic tryst, it pays to be very, very careful. You don't want tongues wagging and ruining your chances with your intended. Plus you want to play it cool - if people start gossiping about how keen you are, you're done for.

6 Keep it hush-hush However open and broadminded companies claim to be, most would rather you pillow-talked to someone who works elsewhere. So it's best to keep your ardour under wraps for as long as possible. Obviously, once the wedding bells are ringing, it's time to come out of the stationery closet.

bride in grooms arms

7 Do not commit email hari-kari Cutesy messages, graphic sexual fantasies or, heaven forfend, a love poem will be recorded for posterity and could be used against you. A further warning, never send a Valentine missive or write salacious messages on the office birthday card.

8 Exercise self-restraint in potentially hairy situations Such as the Christmas party or leaving dos. The volatile mix of work colleagues and alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Never go past first base in the workplace: couples caught in flagrante on the company's CCTV are hilarious - unless it happens to be you.

9 Try not to chuck him/her before you know that one of you is leaving the company Otherwise your formerly cute habits may be scrawled over company whiteboards, your laptop may be sabotaged and checking your email could become an act of heroism. It could also be time to kiss promotion, and perhaps your job, goodbye (particularly if your boss is the jilted party).

10 "But I'm the one who's been chucked" If you've been dumped, there's not much you can do. Lick your wounds in private but in public pretend that life is a bed of roses. Always have a smile at work and laugh uproariously in your ex's presence who will be so mortified that you're having a good time that he/she will try to worm their way back into your affections.