We spend the majority of our lives at work. So, unless you’re one of those lucky ducks who leaps out of bed every morning and races to your dream job, chances are it’s the allies you make in the office that make your day bearable.
Having a buddy who’s always up for a latte break/gossip sesh will go a long way to saving your sanity, especially if your workplace is high-stress (and whose isn’t?). But what if your breaktime bestie happens to be of the opposite sex?
Work spouses always have a spare piece of gum, a funny YouTube video to make you laugh when you want to cry, they’ll talk you out of hitting ‘send’ on that career-limiting email, and you bond quickly because you’ve experienced the same demoralizing levels of corporate hell. The downside is that your special relationship could be misinterpreted as more than “just friends” by your bosses, your nosy, cat-loving cubicle neighbour, or worse: your lover.
If we have learned anything from 10 total seasons (US + UK) of The Office, it’s that maintaining a non-sexual relationship between a girl and a guy in the workplace is really difficult.
Ask yourself the following questions to figure out whether you and your work spouse are the next Jim/Pam/Tim/Dawn:
– If your boyfriend/girlfriend knew about your work spouse, would they mind?
– Has hearing about your work spouse ever sparked disagreements in your relationship with your BF/GF?
– Are you attracted to your work spouse, or have they ever professed attraction to you?
– Who do you contact first when you get incredible (bad or good) news at work, your BF/GF or your co-worker?
How to keep it platonic?
Communication. Go out of your way to make sure that your BF/GF is not feeling put out by the perception that you and your work spouse are anything but friends. Be especially sensitive to their body language when you bring up something your work spouse has said during the day, or by activities like lunchtime walks or meals you’ve had with your work spouse.
Boundaries. There is a very distinct line between confidante and too-close confidante, so beware how many personal deets you share with your work spouse. Think of the old ‘someone else’s shoes’ adage: if the roles were reversed, would you be comfortable with your BF/GF carrying on the same way?
Your turn: Have you ever had, or been, a work spouse? How did it turn out?