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Work Spouse When To Break Up

Updated on April 6, 2012

What is a Work Spouse?

So I have heard the term "Work Spouse" on the news, in the office and among friends a lot lately. Honestly I have never heard the term before, but I understand the meaning all too well.

You see, I had a work spouse. I never knew I did until the term had been in conversation and explained to me, but looking back, yes, he was my spouse. We were both managers at a Finance Company. He was 5 years my junior. He was so very smart. Not particularly attractive, but all things change in time.

It was innocent enough, we begun by sharing time during smoke and lunch breaks, soon we were relying on each other for advice and time-managed projects at work. We would confide in each other about office politics and eventually, our personal lives.

He was married with a small son. I was single with a young daughter. We began getting together after work and on weekends. Not just "us" but our families. We became great friends. He would call me on Mothers Day to wish me a good day, I never had a friend so gracious. I adored his wife and their loving relationship. We spent so much time together that his child and mine were good play pals. His family and I would have picnics, go out on the town or just hang out for hours and hours. He became something that I never had before. A trusted confident, a friend, a soul mate?

I remember that I would feel disappointment when he would chose to go to lunch with another or was too busy. I recall him getting angry when I dated someone from the office. I felt happy when he complemented my appearance, we flirted, we hugged. He...was definitely my spouse. I never wanted to be without him, I relied on him, he completed apart of me I was without.

My world came crashing down as an office politic came between us. I felt betrayed, similar to being cheated on, honestly- the same feelings of hurt. We never worked it out and I quit. I didn't quit over the politics of the office, but the fact that it was too painful to go to work everyday and not communicate. I would hear him laugh and it would be as if a knife shot through my heart. I felt as if I just lost my husband, and it hurt.

I never spoke to my spouse again. I saw his wife a time or two, but we never reconciled.

He passed away at 35 years of age of a heart attack.

The day I read the obituary, apart of me died inside too.

Do/Did You Have a Work Spouse?

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Definition of a Work Spouse

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A work spouse is a co-worker (usually of the opposite sex) with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage; such as, confidences, loyalties, shared experiences, and a degree of honesty or openness. The work spouse is a potentially key relationship when one's actual spouse or boy/girlfriend is not able to be there.  

Is Having a Work Spouse Cheating?

So is a work-spouse relationship considered cheating?

Of course if sexual relations occur, yes. But as we all know, cheating is not limited to the bedroom. Emotional cheating can be just as detrimental to a relationship. Most believe an emotional affair is harmless, but in reality, most marriage professionals view an emotional affair as cheating without having a sexual relationship. And as you can guess, so does your significant other. I was lucky in the sense that my "spouse" was extremely close to his wife and we spent time together- all of us- so it differs from the traditional relationship of office partners as being only at the office.

But, emotional affairs are painful. Your partner can feel betrayel, lied to and cheated of your time and emotional bond. Emotional affairs basically is; "sharing personal, intimate emotions with someone other than your significant other. So much so that it causes distance between you."

So are you cheating with your work-spouse? If you have romantic feelings and are sharing more with the office than your other- yes. It is said that an emotional affair is just a step in the eventual act of infidelity.   

Work Spouse Break-up

So, life happens. People move, transfer employment, separate due to office politic conflicts, as in my situation, or just plain quit. So what then?

It's a work spouse break-up. As funny as that may sound, funny it isn't.

We tend to work more than spend time at home. Our co-workers become friends and our days become routine. So,it is no surprise to know that when your work-spouse leaves, you will feel loss. The days will seem awkward, the tasks a bit more difficult or tedious. The adjustment will be hard. For a short-time.

You see, if it was truly just a work-spouse and of only platonic based feelings, you will recover and probably replace your work spouse with another in time. If not, you had established and acquired much more than the platonic and innocent work spouse and a break-up was needed anyway.


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    • winepress profile image

      winepress 7 years ago

      Sorry it happened to you. It has happened to me many times, now I keep everything to myself.

      Thanks for sharing.


    • Kalyko profile image

      Kalyko 7 years ago

      Very poignant story, sorry that happened to you.