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The Benefits of Having a “Work Spouse”

July 9, 2019 by

If you are like most people, you probably spend most of your hours every week at the office. Because of this, you have most likely developed some strong bonds with your coworkers. And, there is one kind of relationship in particular that you may have acquired along with 50% of other people who have been surveyed: a work spouse.

But what kind of relationship is this, and can having a work spouse help you achieve your goals? Let’s find out.

What is a work spouse?

This term typically refers to a coworker of the opposite sex who you consider to be trustworthy and who has your back and you feel close to. Similar to a real-life spouse, your work spouse always supports you but is also willing to play devil’s advocate with you. But aside from having a close relationship with this person, there’s typically nothing suggestive or romantic happening.

The role of a work spouse

Usually, a work spouse is someone you confide in about both work and personal matters. This person is the one you go to when you want to complain about your boss or you are looking for a confidant who is not a part of your personal, everyday life to give you an outside perspective on issues that you are facing.

Your work spouse is your main ally and advisor at work, who you can laugh with throughout the day and share the everyday stressors of your job. You can be honest with this person, have politically incorrect conversations, and vent about fellow coworkers.

You may think that a work spouse sounds awfully close to a real spouse, you are not exactly wrong in that. Just like a real spouse, your work spouse helps you, supports you, and roots for you.

Having a work spouse is a good thing because it gives you a confidant at the office whom you trust that you can blow off some steam with. This outlet is an important part of maintaining a healthy mental state of mind at work and a work-life balance.

Also, unlike your actual spouse, a work spouse is aware of the dynamics of your office and the things that you have to deal with every day. Talking to someone who is familiar with these things can help you process issues that you have in the workplace better. This can help you feel less inclined to bring work home with you (mentally) after hours. When you are able to leave work problems at work, it can benefit your relationships in real life because you can leave that burden behind.

Plus, having the extra support at your office can help you excel at your job. Research shows that having friends in the office, and particularly a best friend, can help improve your performance.

The downsides to having a work spouse

Studies have also found that close office friendships can also have a negative impact on your productivity, and especially if your conversations with your work spouse become emotionally exhaustive. For example, if your work spouse complains about the same issue repeatedly, or speaks negatively about a colleague that you have a good relationship with–you could become mentally drained while talking to your work spouse to the point that the quality of your work declines.

Also, your real-life spouse may feel insecure about your work spouse, especially if your spouse is one who likes to solve your problems.

When you’re talking to your partner, it can be a good idea to refer to your work spouse in a different manner. Perhaps say ‘work wingman,’ which suggests the same type of relationship without touching on anything that could be considered to be romantic. Giving even a completely platonic friend a romantic-sounding name could pose problems for your relationship, so it may be best to avoid doing so. Be open with your spouse about your relationship with this person at work so they don’t feel as if you are hiding something.

However, if things do heat up with your work spouse and you are single, you want to check with your company to see if there are any policies regarding employees dating each other. You don’t want to jeopardize your job. If your work spouse expresses interest in you and you do not feel the same way, be very honest with him or her and show compassion. You don’t want to lose this person as a friend and you don’t want to embarrass them when they will still be seeing you five days a week.

So while there are some guidelines, having a work spouse and someone who supports you in your career can be a very healthy and normal thing.

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