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Health & Sex

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The Office Spouse: Rules of Engagement

You’re married, but you’ve got a close relationship with a co-worker -- otherwise known as your office spouse. Is it possible to keep it platonic, or is an affair in your future?

The Reality of an Office Spouse  

While an office spouse might be a great friend, a strong support system, and a shoulder to cry on, it can be risky. So ask yourself, is an office spouse worth it?

"If your spouse has an affair, it will be the worst experience of your life," says Harley. "You want to take extraordinary precautions to make sure it doesn't happen to you, because nothing will compare to it. So look at the conditions that make an affair possible: most affairs take place on the job, and among really close friends at work."

It's a risk-benefit scenario, so if your marriage is important to you, you might want to give serious consideration to keeping your office relationships professional.

"The idea of an office spouse is a huge danger -- you would not want your husband to have an office spouse," says Harley.

While an office spouse poses a threat, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the relationship can remain platonic.

"We are considering a survey about whether or not these relationships turn into affairs," says's Oldman. "It's a phenomenon to look at because it makes sense that an affair would be the next step. Still, that's not always the case, and a healthy office spouse situation is between people who would never let it get there -- who understand the line and stay far from it."

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Reviewed on March 22, 2007

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