I was discussing my posts this week about cheating with one of my colleagues (and good friend) and she asked me what about “work wives”? Is THAT cheating? How common is it that someone has a work spouse? Actually, it is not as uncommon as you might think. These types of engagements typically occur in places where long hours and stresses are a common part of the job. Apparently, almost 700 people in different work scenarios were surveyed and 32% say they have engaged in a “work spouse” relationship. What is a work spouse? Essentially, a it is someone that you work with who you are very close to, someone whom you can share your work life with, you have inside jokes, you care about each other’s well-being, and you spend a lot of your free work time together. This relationship is not a sexual one; it is a “marriage” in all intents and purposes EXCEPT for sex. It is completely platonic, or, it should be. Nevertheless, it gets you wondering, is it risky behavior?
My Husband Has a “Work Wife”, Is That Cheating?
Dear Single Dating Diva,
My husband has a “work wife”. They have a close friendship. In fact, he also has a “work mistress” as well as other “work liaisons” he jokes around about. Although I am generally OK with it, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. Is this normal behavior? Is having a “work wife” cheating?
The REAL Wife
Dear Real Wife,
Thank you for your question; it is a very important one. The work spouse scenario often ends up in murky water territory. It is all about boundaries and walking a fine line between friendship and intimacy. By definition, a “work wife” is completely platonic and should not go beyond the work space. This relationship is definitely NOT a sexual one. It is not even emotional although there is a “caring” component but the way friends care for each other. There has to be a clear line.
Is it cheating? It depends what YOUR boundaries are and if your spouse is being honest with you or not. It seems that he shares everything with you, but it also seems like this arrangement makes you somewhat uncomfortable. It is important that you express any concerns you have with your husband. Openness is key. Just look out for some of the red flags.
Work Spouse Red Flags
How do you know when to sound the alarms? Well, it is when the work spouses
- spend time alone outside of the work environment / work day
- communicate online / on the phone / text outside of the work environment / work day
- share very personal information about themselves and their marriage problems that they don’t share with their “real” spouse
- keep secrets from their “real” spouse
- talk about their work spouse a lot at home
- blur the professional lines / boundaries
- act in a way that causes other co-workers to question their relationship
- develop more than friendly feelings and caring for each other
- have sexual fantasies about each other
Signs That the Line Has Been Crossed
Affairs usually start out completely innocently as friendships. Then the casual engagement becomes emotional. Work relationships usually fulfil a need that both people have for companionship and understanding as well as prowess and ego. Although these relationships might start out as a friendship, as time goes on, these two people will get closer and start sharing more intimate details about their lives. As they start doing that, it is very possible to see that person as your hero or only person that “gets” you. They are the person that you lean on. This is where feelings develop. This is where emotional affairs happen. Even if there is no physical sex. However, how do you know that it is happening? Well, you know that you have crossed a line when you develop romantic feelings, when you are hiding things from your real spouse and when you start having sexual thoughts. When this happens, you need to take a step back and re-focus.
If you are the “real” spouse, as I mentioned earlier, you need to communicate with your partner if you feel a line has been crossed and that you are uncomfortable with the relationships your spouse is having at work. Do not be unreasonable and do not attack, just calmly mention how their actions are making you feel and why.
Hope this helps!
Readers, what do you think? Do you have (or have you ever had) a work spouse? How did it happen? Did you ever cross the line? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Your Sister in Dating Bliss,
Single Dating Diva
Copyright Single Dating Diva