Tips For Navigating The Tricky Territory Of Your Partner's Work Spouse

We spend a lot of time at work. In fact, most people will spend one-third of their life working. Since that's the case, it's important to not only like your job but like the people with whom you share the office. The latter of which isn't always easy. However, having a best friend at work is great for not just employees, but for business too. People thrive in work environments where they have someone to turn to and when they feel an overall sense of camaraderie.


While having a work best friend is essential for many, you know you've really hit the jackpot when you realize you have a work spouse. According to a 2020 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, 25% of people report having a "work wife" or "work husband" at some point in their career. While a 2017 survey by Office Pulse put that figure at 70%.

Although having a work spouse can make a job more fun, it can sometimes become a problem for the person whose partner is the one in a work spouse relationship. If your partner has a work spouse, you shouldn't necessarily be worried — not every work spouse situation ends up like Pam and Jim from "The Office" — but there are some things to keep in mind.


Don't expect them to tell you everything about work

If you and your partner have two completely different careers or jobs, trying to understand their day-to-day can not only be tricky, but sometimes boring too. Every office has its own drama, politics, and culture. Because of this, if you tried to keep up with everything that's going on, at every level, of your partner's office life, you'd probably be lost. Who walked out on their job last week and what's the name of the person who messed up what project?


As much as you want to be there for your partner, sometimes you just can't. It's here that you should be grateful that your partner has a work spouse whom they can get into the nitty gritty of their office life. Do you really need to know about the drama that's been unfolding in the accounting office? No. When your partner has a work spouse, they end up leaving the majority of their work life where it belongs: at the office. So don't expect them to tell you every detail about their job. You probably don't want them to, so there's no point in being jealous if you don't get a play-by-play every day.

Know that they may share things with their work spouse and not with you

What's interesting about having a work spouse is that sometimes people feel more comfortable sharing things with them, than they do with their partner. This isn't a betrayal, per se, but more like venting to a friend about things you wouldn't share with your partner. Although honesty, communication, and openness are essential to a healthy relationship, it's also important to realize that everyone has a right to some privacy.


Since there will probably be things that your work spouse will hear that you won't, nor do you need to know, you want to set up boundaries with your partner. Lay out what's okay to share and what needs to remain within the relationship. Also, discuss what falls dangerously close to emotional cheating. A mature relationship should allow for each partner to have platonic relationships with others and not have to feel bad about those relationships — as long as there is an understanding as to what's innocent and what's deceitful.

If you have insecurities, tell your partner

While your partner may have a work husband or work wife all day long at the office, you're still their partner 24/7. Remember that. But if you start to feel insecure about their relationship with their work spouse or your partner is going to, perhaps, too many after-work events with that person, then speak up. Even if you know that your partner and their work spouse are just friends or BFFs, which sometimes happens in offices, you still want to be honest about how you're feeling and how their actions are affecting you.


It's natural to feel left out, especially when a partner and a work spouse spend so much time together. But, at the same time, just because two people spend hours upon hours together, it doesn't mean that there's a love connection, that your partner is cheating, or that anything else even remotely scandalous is happening.

Accept that there might be a bit of a crush there

When we hear the word crush, we often think of romantic feelings that one might have for someone else. But crushes don't always work that way. For example, platonic crushes, in which two people can't get enough of each other in a completely platonic way, happen. Romantic crushes also happen, but those crushes don't necessarily have to contain feelings of sexual desire. To have a crush on someone, ultimately means we're smitten with them and enjoy being around them.


"It's very normal and may have nothing to do with happiness in the relationship overall," psychologist Samantha Rodman tells HuffPost. "Crushes make people feel attractive and alive, and people often get them even when they are very committed to their partners, but the relationship is no longer in that swooning honeymoon phase."

If your partner is crushing on their work spouse or their work spouse is crushing on them, don't automatically think it's going to lead to trouble. You've probably had a crush or two during your relationship, and based on the numbers, you've probably had a work spouse at some point too.

Consider the benefits of their work spouse

If your partner is a man and he has a work wife, just think about all the insight she can offer him on certain topics. For example, if you and your partner get into a disagreement and, no matter what you say, he can't see the reality of the situation, then his work wife might be able to set him straight. If your partner is a woman and she has a work wife, the same can also be said.


We tend to think that three's a crowd, but it doesn't have to be this way. Your partner's office spouse can actually be an asset to your relationship. Because they know your partner very well, but in a different way because their relationship started at work, they can have another take on things and can angle things in a way that can help your partner see the light.

Don't let jealousy get the best of you

Although there's nothing wrong with a little bit of jealousy, it's when jealous feelings get out of control that things can become messy. If you find yourself being obsessive about your partner's work spouse to the point where you can't stop asking questions or making false claims, then you need to take a look inside yourself and ask why you're feeling this way. When jealousy escalates, it can do a lot of damage. Even if it's not your intention, your jealousy can push your partner right into the arms of their work spouse. What was once a professional, friendly relationship can become more because you've created a situation of you against them.


Yes, romantic relationships and even true love are born out of in-office friendships, but as various recent surveys have found, only 11% of people are finding love in the office these days. Instead, when it comes to people meeting romantic partners, dating apps are the most common source. So don't get upset if your partner has a work spouse. Not every job can be a place of perfect joy, so if your partner has a buddy to get them through the week, be happy for them.