Is Having A "Work Spouse" The Same Thing As Having An Affair?
If you are very close to a colleague whom you regularly vent to, go for daily lunch breaks with and feel you can rely on at the office, you might actually have a "work spouse". But is this truly a platonic friendship, or is there a chance of it becoming an extra marital affair?
You’re having a rough day at work, the boss is breathing down your neck and the photocopier machine is acting up just when you need it the most. Would you wait until you get home to vent about what happened at work to your partner who you haven’t met the whole day? Or would you head on over to your colleague’s desk so you can confide in them about what’s bugging you? There’s nothing wrong with forming friendships at the workplace, but if you find that there is one person in particular who you’re quite close to, spend a lot of time with, and is of the opposite sex, they might actually be your “work spouse”.
So is this platonic friendship something your real-life spouse should worry about?
Would it ever have the potential of evolving into a scandalous office romance?
Or is it strictly professional and would never turn into anything more than that?
What is a “work husband” or a “work wife”?
You spend half your day at the office and so naturally would form friendships with your colleagues.
But a relationship with a work spouse is a bit more intense and might even seem like a marriage of sorts — just without any romance or sexual contact.
After a long day at work, once you get home you just want to switch off and focus on your family, and you might not want to bore your partner with all the details about the latest project you’re working on.
Besides, you have other things to worry about at home, like your kid’s grades in school, or the bills that need to be paid soon, or your partner’s upcoming birthday party which you have yet to plan for.
However, with a work spouse who knows all about the office politics and other work-related issues, it’s easier for you to open up and depend on them for support, advice, or simply to be a listening ear.
Signs that you have a work spouse
According to Business Insider Singapore, here are a few signs that indicate your platonic friendship with your co-worker may actually be extra special:
1. You’re always together
If either one of you is making a beeline towards the pantry to grab a cup of coffee, chances are that the other is not far behind; you will go out for lunch together and probably know each other’s food preferences quite well; and all it takes is a familiar signal and you both know it’s time to duck out for a quick smoke-break.
If there was an office party for Christmas, you probably would arrive together and stick close to one another thoughout the whole event.
2. You turn to each other first
Whether you want to complain about an annoying colleague who got on your nerves, or express your worries about the upcoming performance review, you will automatically reach out to one another for support.
You’ll also share secrets with each other which you wouldn’t with your other co-workers.
3. You feel at ease around one another
You’re comfortable enough to drop your stiff corporate persona and just be yourself when you’re together, without the fear of being judged.
You may even share some inside jokes or stories that only the both of you know the details of.
4. They are always on your mind
Even when you’re not at the office, your mind might wander and you’ll think of them or see something and be reminded of them.
You might also talk about them to your friends outside of the workplace.
How it can affect your marriage and your job
If you already have a real spouse waiting for you at home, then why would you need a work spouse at the office?
Willard F. Harley Jr., PhD, author of His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, explains to WebMD that, “An office spouse meets emotional needs, going beyond the requirements of the job. If you are in a bind, here is a co-worker — someone of the opposite sex — who will care for you, who you can depend on, and who you can confide in.”
Your real spouse might not be too keen on how close you are to someone else of the opposite sex and could start to question your motives for maintaining such a special friendship.
Things could also get out of hand and you may end up having an affair together.
At the office
Your other colleagues at the workplace might also feel jealous or left out when they see how you two are always together and share inside jokes.
Or if for some reason, you and your work spouse end your relationship, it could make things pretty awkward at the office and possibly affect your performance at work.
Know where to draw the line
If you have a work spouse, here are some ground rules to ensure that your relationship does not head in the wrong direction:
- Avoid taking part in recreational activities together outside of work
- Try not to be alone with them outside of work
- It is not advised to go out for drinks together
- Some personal problems (especially marital issues) should not be shared
- Refrain from making any unnecessary physical contact
- Don’t send each other flirty text messages or share inappropriate content
- Constantly remind yourself to keep things strictly platonic
Although it’s great to get emotional support at the workplace and have someone you can trust and enjoy being around, remember to tread carefully as this seemingly innocent friendship has the potential to rub others the wrong way or even turn into an extra marital afffair.
Connecting with a work spouse might make you feel better at the office, but not at the expense of your real spouse who you have started a family with and built a life together.