What defines an Unhealthy ‘Work Spouse’ Relationship? Do you have a new bestie in the office? Have you formed a close friendship with a coworker? Then it’s likely you have a “work spouse.” It refers to a strong platonic relationship between colleagues of the opposite sex.
Usually, a work spouse can help make work pressure more tolerable and increase productivity. But when you start ignoring your actual spouse and cross boundaries with your office spouse, then it can get unhealthy really fast.
“In a lot of work places, you work at a lot of jobs and people work more with their colleagues than with their family.” – Russell Hornsby
Are You Having an Emotional Affair with Your ‘Work Spouse’?
Are you in a stable, committed, long-term relationship, but admittedly have a “work spouse”? Having a “work wife” or “work husband” is a common thing in society today. But, what if sometimes your “work spouse” relationship makes you or your coworkers uncomfortable? Assuming there is zero physical flirtation to take into consideration, how do you know where the line is? Sometimes, even just an appearance of impropriety can damage your reputation at work and at home.
11 Signs Of An Unhealthy ‘Work Spouse’ Relationship
Here are 11 things to ask yourself to decide whether you might be stepping over the bounds of an appropriate workplace relationship:
1. Your partner is no longer the first person you’re excited to tell things to, and you often assume you’ve already told them about “x.” In reality, you already told your “work wife” because of your close working relationship, and assume that you told your partner as well.
2. Rather than doing things to impress your partner, you do them to impress your “work spouse.” Example: you’re usually pretty frugal & don’t buy little indulgences often, but around your work wife, you want to show them you support what they support, so you buy girl scout cookies from a random girl scout, despite already having purchased some from the work wife’s kid. Or, you’re not someone who typically gives bums any spare change, but you find yourself doling out $10 at an on ramp with your work wife in the car on the way to a job site.
3. The idea of losing your actual partner doesn’t bother you because you know your work partner will be there to support you and help you through it. They’ll also help you justify your actions in the primary relationship’s breakdown.
4. You find yourself wishing that your partner would be more like your work partner. Perhaps, you lose sight of the fact that your “work wife” can’t afford to lose her cool at work and show how she honestly feels, while your partner at home feels safe enough around you to show their real emotions.
5. You discuss inappropriate things with your work wife, such as your actual relationship. You also talk about things you should instead ask your partner about instead of the work wife.
6. Your work wife/husband is very flirtatious and often brings up sexual things in conversations where they have no place. Example: you’re a banker, and they talk about leaving their spouse, but only if the person they leave them for has a “very big weiner…etc.”
7. Your work wife is more “needy” and “vulnerable” than your partner, so you find yourself being compelled to cater to them and thinking they need you. This might cause you to start ignoring your actual partner’s needs because they seem so small in comparison to all that your work spouse requires.
8. You start expecting your partner at home to “read your mind” more often, such as assuming they’ll realize what you want them to do, even regarding topics that have never been approached. Have you lost sight of the fact that communication at work has to be direct, face-to-face, and clear, or the project will stall? While at home, it’s much more comfortable to assume things than confront them.
“It’s easy to deny the seriousness of an emotional affair but it can be extremely threatening to a marriage.” – Dr. Gail