Mixing business with “pleasure” has never been a recipe for a “happily ever after” and sex in the workplace seems to cause more pain than satisfaction. An average of 15,000 complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace are filed each year; news headlines about sex scandals between high-ranking bosses and workplace subordinates spark public scorn and outrage; more families and couples separated as a result of an extramarital relationship initiated by one of the spouses in the workplace; and more psychotherapists are treating patients experiencing the aftermath of a workplace romance gone awry. Such consequences can range from feeling angry, confused, humiliated, and depressed to being fired from your job, sometimes without even a letter of recommendation.

Today, more companies are enforcing dating policies at work, providing workplace romance training, or choosing to show leniency toward romantic involvement among employees as long as it doesn’t threaten productivity and team effort. And yet, many people aren’t clear on the rules of romance at work. Still a taboo and the subject of tabloid gossip, sex and romance at work is considered a thorny topic that most of us wish would go away.

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, here’s how to prepare yourself and your staff to deal with Cupid’s attack at the office:

Learn the definition of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment occurs when an employee makes unwelcome, ongoing sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature to another employee, against her wishes. This unwelcome behavior affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with that individual’s job performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The movie “Disclosure” illustrates how sexual harassment is the abuse of power that violates another person’s moral, ethical and emotional boundaries. The film shows how a computer scientist is sued for sexual harassment by an ex-lover turned boss, whose purpose is to frame him and destroy both his career and his personal life.

If you are being sexually harassed, don’t sit around waiting for it to go away. This behavior often escalates if you don’t stop the bully with a firm and proactive stance. Call the person out on the behavior right away, ask him to stop, and warn him that you will report him if he continues. If it continues, report the harassment. Your employer has the responsibility to take each complaint seriously and investigate it.

Deal appropriately with sexual advances from co-workers. A sexual advance can be a direct expression of sexual attraction to a co-worker, a direct invitation to a physical relationship, or flirtatious behavior that has gone too far.

In the movies, Andy, the central character of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” neutralizes his boss’s advances by staying true to his values. His boss understands. When he is promoted, it is not for sexual favors but for his job performance.

Real life often looks like the movies. By staying true to your values ​​and keeping your work priorities in order, you too can be successful without losing your integrity.

Honor your work first, then your sexual fantasies. In the movie “A Time to Kill,” a handsome young Mississippi lawyer handles a tough criminal case with admirable strength and a very attractive assistant. Though the sexual chemistry between them sizzles, he chooses to channel his passion into the case, which he wins.

If you ever find yourself irresistibly attracted to a coworker, before you give in to your fantasies, do a reality check. Examine how it would affect your job if you consummate your sexual attraction. If you realize that it would jeopardize your job, and your relationship with your colleague, then you should honor your job and find a different outlet for your fantasies.

Never start an extramarital affair in the workplace. In “The Firm,” young lawyer Mitch falls victim to a corrupt law firm that engages his employees in extramarital affairs and then blackmails them into extortion money. He has a company-induced affair that costs her marriage and his sanity. The movie has a happy ending only because Mitch fights so hard to win back the love of his wife.

In real life, extramarital affairs in the workplace never have a happy ending. In addition to the agony of being found out at home, the parties involved live with the constant stress of being found out at work. When this happens, be prepared to cut your losses. And those losses can include your reputation, your family, your job, the person you’re having the affair with, or all of the above.

When Dating a Coworker, Make Post-Breakup Ground Rules Up Front In the classic movie “The Apartment,” CC Baxter climbs the career ladder by lending her apartment to her boss for their extramarital dates. He is also falling for his co-worker, Fran. Everything seems to be going well, until he discovers that Fran is also the lover of his boss. How will they all get out of such a perplexed dynamic and keep their jobs?

In real life, a romance with a coworker always has some impact on your work life. Once they get to know each other intimately, they become more vulnerable to each other. Therefore, you must draw up a contract in which you specify how you are going to maintain your employment relationship, in case your personal relationship does not last. Sign and honor it, in case you get separated. It’s a smart thing to do. You don’t want a Baxter and Fran situation.

Stay away from office sex gossip. In the French comedy “The Closet,” the main character, François, spreads false rumors at work that he is gay, hinting that he will sue management if he is fired for sexual discrimination. As sexual gossip spreads around the office, it wreaks havoc on the careers and personal lives of your coworkers with consequences that range from hilarious to dire.

In real life, you need to avoid chaos in the office by staying away from gossip about your coworkers’ sexual orientation and sex life. When a coworker confesses to an affair with another coworker, he politely refuses to become his sounding board. Protect yourself and your work. You never know how office sex gossip can backfire or be used against you, whether it was generated by you or not.

When Cupid strikes in the office, keep your romance private. In the movie “Kindergarten Cop”, tough guy Detective Kimble enters a school undercover as a kindergarten teacher to investigate a case. He ends up falling for Joyce, another schoolteacher who is also the target of his investigation. But this is true love and it changes Kimble’s fate. Leaving the police force, he returns to Joyce and her school as a true kindergarten teacher.

In real life, if you’ve found your soul mate in a certain co-worker and you want your fledgling romance to have a happy ending, you should keep it private until it becomes a serious, mutual commitment. Never transfer personal conflicts with the person you are dating into the workplace. Always respect each other as co-workers. Only go public with your romance when it’s a solid relationship that you know will last. So, it’s a time to celebrate. Congratulations! You have shown discretion and good judgment!

Knowing how to successfully navigate the dark waters of romance in the workplace should be part of your job training. Follow these guidelines as rules of conduct to secure your career and safeguard your personal life, whenever Cupid’s arrow threatens to pierce your office bubble.