Signs You or Your SO Have a Work Spouse

A work spouse is someone at your job of the opposite sex with whom you have a close non-sexual relationship. This platonic relationship gives you the support, camaraderie and even self-esteem boost that a significant relationship outside the office gives you. A work spouse gives you a special bond similar to those shared with a significant other.

There are advantages to having a work spouse, such as having support and encouragement at the office. However, there can also be detriments, such as exclusion with other co-workers, rumors, jealousy from your real spouse and even emotional or physical affairs. There are eight signs that signify whether you have a work spouse-if you can answer yes to at least six, you've got one.

  1. Does this person know little details about your food preferences? For example, how you like your coffee, which restaurant is your favorite for an office lunch? Do you know whether this person likes blueberry muffins or jelly donuts? Could this person order for you at a restaurant and most likely get it right? Knowing food preferences is an intimate level of knowledge usually reserved for close relationships.
  2. Do you share inside jokes with this person? Answering yes to this question means two things: you share the same sense of humor and you are choosing to neutralize or even exclude others, which strengthens the bond between you and your co-worker.
  3. Do you share work gossip with this person? When something big or small happens at work, is this the first person you seek out to either share what you know or to get more info.
  4. Do you rely on your co-worker to do your job? Whether you are on a team together, rely on your work spouse for assistance or simply seek out his or her opinion on your job duties, this person is acting as a valuable consultant and advisor to you, whether officially or unofficially.
  5. Do you know a lot about this person's personal life and share details of yours? When this person knows where your parents live, your political or religious views or your latest vacation plans, sharing details of your personal life further integrates you into each other's life.
  6. Do you cross boundaries for this person? You may do things for this person that you wouldn't do for another co-worker, such as cover for your work spouse when running late or shift blame for his or her mistake to someone else. Even a slight crossing of lines shows that you value this person more than other co-workers and feel like protecting or defending them.
  7. Do you downplay your relationship with this person to others? In other words, do you consciously try not to mention this person much around your significant other or family members? Recognizing that even a platonic level of emotional intimacy can be misconstrued, you are purposefully censoring what you say about this person to others.
  8. Do you look forward to going to work because of this person? While a close relationship with a co-worker can make a long workday brighter, a work spouse makes it so you have a hard time enjoying work when he or she isn't there. The relationship with the work spouse takes a higher priority than the work itself.
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