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Do Work Spouse Relationships Lead to Workplace Affairs?

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:19pm
Work husband, work wife, work spouse, office wife, office husband, office spouse --

These are all terms used to describe a fairly new type of workplace relationship between co-workers of the opposite sex that’s very similar to a marriage.

These work spouse relationships are becoming increasingly more common.

Work Spouse Statistics

In a recent survey on socializing in the workplace conducted by Randstad USA, 53% of women and 42% of men said they had a work or office spouse.

A survey conducted among a variety of industries by found that 32% of the respondents reported having a work husband or work wife.

Are Work Spouse Relationships Harmless?

Some people say work spouse relationships are harmless. I totally disagree. My comments on this topic appear in the current issue of Human Resource Executive .

The article, by Julie Cook Ramirez, entitled Working Marriages discusses the pros and cons of workplace relationships between work husbands and work wives.

Excerpts from the Human Resource Executive article appear below.

By definition, work-spouse relationships are platonic. However, it's the potential for hanky panky that makes relationship experts leery of such associations. Ruth Houston, an Elmhurst, N.Y.-based infidelity expert, founder of and author of Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs says it's all too easy for these relationships to morph into affairs.

"Sooner or later, the friendship becomes an emotional bond that can become a sexual bond if the opportunity presents itself," says Houston. "And more likely than not, it will happen because they're going to have to work late together or they're going to stop after work for drinks or travel somewhere together, and they're going to end up doing something that takes it to the next level."

Potential Workplace Affairs

As you can see, I believe a work spouse relationship is a workplace affair waiting to happen. The bonds formed between a work husband and a work wife are almost identical to the bonds between two people involved in an emotional affair. And emotional affairs are a precursor to sexual affairs. That’s why I caution work spouses to tread carefully. Today’s work spouse relationship could easily become tomorrow’s workplace affair. Some work spouse relationships are already in the danger zone.

Is Your Work Spouse Relationship in the Danger Zone?

If you’re in a work spouse relationship and are wondering if it could lead to a workplace affair, take my Work Spouse Quiz to see if your relationship with your work husband or work wife falls in the danger zone. For a free copy of the Work Spouse Quiz , e-mail with the words “work spouse quiz-b” in the subject line.

Problems Work Spouse Relationships Can Cause

Work spouse relationships can cause a multitude of problems on both a personal and a professional level – even if they don’t turn into workplace affairs. In my next post I’ll list a few of these problems so you can see that work spouse relationships are not so harmless after all.

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