What’s one of the top things that could tear apart your marriage? It’s your work spouse! A lot of people joke that they have “work spouses” - typically, a co-worker of the opposite sex with whom you have a close friendship. But experts warn that what starts out as a harmless work relationship can cross into a full-blown affair fast. So, here are the things to keep in mind about work spouses from relationship expert Dr. Jenn Berman:
- Having a "work spouse" is OK – as long as you keep it casual. Dr. Berman says that joking and talking with a co-worker is normal – but beware of too many instant messages, or lunches with just the two of you. Because the more comfortable you get, the more likely you are to engage in an emotional affair, which can turn physical. So, a good rule of thumb is to only talk to your work spouse about topics that you’d discuss if your spouse was standing next to you. You can confide in your work spouse about job issues – but don’t confide in them about your marriage.
- Then, always tell your partner about your work spouse. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your spouse about your relationship with a coworker, that’s a red flag that the relationship has crossed a line. And that secrecy could make you and your work spouse feel even closer – and more likely to have an affair.
- Finally, if your partner isn’t comfortable with your work spouse, don’t accuse your partner of being jealous. Ask your partner what you can do to make them more comfortable. Like arrange a lunch so they can meet, or tell your partner that you’ll only communicate with coworkers while at work – no after hours email or Facebook. You have to have clear boundaries and let your coworker know what they are as well.