How Do Office Affairs Start?
So you have a buddy at work. An “attractive other” buddy. You laugh, you flirt.. but sometimes you share, perhaps a bit more than you ought to. At what point does your workplace friendship slide into a complicated emotional affair? Platonic work relationships can easily turn into a tense emotionally roller-coaster. There is a specific inter-actional dance of disclosures and quid pro quo intimacies that can slide you down into an emotional affair at work.
Take this quiz to learn if this has happened to you or someone you love:
Yes or No 1. Do you share more personal disclosures with your friend than with your partner about how your day was?
Yes or No 2. Do you discuss your innermost thoughts, and intimate details, such as the content of marital arguments and fights…with your friend?….. but not with your partner?
Yes or No 3. Are you transparent with your partner about the depth of this particular workplace friendship?
Yes or No 4. Would you feel completely at ease if your partner overheard you having a conversation with this friend?
Yes or No 5. Would you feel awkward if your partner could see a videotape of your meetings?
Yes or No 6.. Are you aware of sexual tensions that are building in this friendship?
Yes or No 7. Do you and your friend touch differently when you alone, than in front of your co-workers?
Yes or No 8. Think about it…..Are you experiencing feelings of love for your friend? Or are you pre-occupied with denying any feelings of attachment to them?
Scoring: You get one point each for YES to questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and one point each for NO to 3, 4, and 5.
If you scored near 0, this is just a friendship. Problematic behaviors that leads to emotional affairs in heterosexual couples are somewhat gendered according to Dr. Glass.
Make sure that if you are female, you keep a personal boundary. Do not initiate conversations about marital trouble, lest you trigger your male friend’s “rescue” programming. if you are a male, resist the temptation to reciprocate intimate details from her in a quid pro quo. Be aware and observe your feelings. If your marriage is weak, slipping into an emotional affair At Work could seem effortless.
If you scored 3 or more, you may not be “just friends.” Discuss establishing boundaries around discussion of family and intimate others. Come clean with your partner about the meaning of this particular friendship. Value transparency. Agree to threaten nothing in each others intimate lives. Cool it down. Couple therapy would be a good idea at this point. Esther Perel asks a brilliant question at this point; who are you when you are with this workplace friend, and why has this part split off from your primary relationship?
If you scored -8, you are definitely in an emotional affair. Unfortunately, by this point your life may be characterized by the exhausting work of carrying forward the deception. Your entire life is perhaps organized around it. You are either in denial, or doing a lot of denying. The Social Science tells us you are probably in dire distress, and Discernment Counseling might be a good option. Right now what you need most is clarity and confidence.
*This quiz was based on an idea by Shirley Glass, famed author and workplace affairs researcher of “Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovery your Sanity After Infidelity.
Are you in a bad situation with a complicated emotional affair?
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Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.