Do You Have a Work Spouse?

These days, most of us spend as much or more time with our co-workers as our friends and family. That may be one reason why so many people are favorable toward office romance.

Harris Interactive recently released a report showing that over one third (36%) of workers surveyed said they’d consider an office romance. According to the 2008 Harlequin Romance Report, 57% of men and 61% of women in the workplace have had a crush on a co-worker, and well over half of both men and women who’ve experienced workplace crushes say they’ve gone beyond a crush to a relationship with a co-worker (Hat tip: HR World).

But for many, it’s not clear what to do about the deep bonds or constant flirtations that frequently arise between co-workers even when things don’t turn into actual romance. There’s even a terminology that has sprung up to describe this relationship – a “work spouse.”  When you spend most of your time at work – or during your lunch hour – with a co-worker, think about them while at home, or look forward to the next time you’ll get to see or talk with them, you may just have what some call a “work husband” or a “work wife,” even if things are platonic. 

Though general camaraderie and good will among co-workers is a good thing, it can be difficult to draw the lines and keep work relationships in check, unless you have some guidelines to follow.

How can you know if things have gone too far in a co-worker relationship? Experts say taking stock of your on-the-job relationships with these questions in mind can help you know if you’re crossing the line into dangerous territory with a co-worker.

  • Are you obsessing over your co-worker when not at work?
  • How would you treat your work spouse if your significant other were with you?
  • Do you compare your real romantic partner with your work spouse?
  • Do you cross the lines into physical contact with your work spouse, even if it’s just as simple as touch on the shoulder?
  • Are you treating your work spouse the same way you would treat other friends?

What do you think about office romance? Have you ever known anyone in a “work marriage”? Let us know in the comments section, or vote in our online poll.

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