Office Affairs: When a Workplace Friendship Crosses the Line

 Office Affairs: When a Workplace Friendship Crosses the Line

Office Affairs: When a Workplace Friendship Crosses the Line_ichhori.webP

Workplace controversies are on the rise. According to research, 38% of adulterous husbands began their affairs at work between 1982 and 1990. Between 1991 and 2000, 50% of unfaithful wives started an affair at work. Shirley Glass, Ph.D., a therapist and marriage and family therapist, estimates that 46% of unfaithful wives and 62% of unfaithful husbands in her therapeutic practice had an affair with someone they met through their profession (Glass & Staeheli, 2004).

While affairs can begin in a variety of ways, one of the most commonly reported situations, where infidelity begins, is at work. "I didn't set out to cheat on my partner; it just occurred," many people who start relations at work later remark. Although it may appear that the adultery "simply happened," there were processes that lead up to it.

According to research, chance plays a significant role in workplace-related issues. Healthy limits are usually the first step in these relationships. When an emotional closeness line is crossed in a friendship, the odds of developing into sexual intimacy increase (Glass & Staeheli, 2004).

If you believe you may have crossed a line at work, consider the following:

  • Do I discuss topics with this person that I do not discuss with my partner?
  • Do I discuss my marital problems with this person?
  • Do I have the impression that this person's partner doesn't understand them or is mistreating them?
  • Do I say things to this individual that I would not say to my partner?
  • Is this person my true love?
  • Is my partner aware of the depth of my engagement with this person?
  • Do I and this individual touch differently when we're alone than when we're together?
  • Do I have sexual feelings for this person?
  • Do I have sexual fantasies about this person?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, immediately establish a stronger buffer between you and the employee (Glass & Staeheli, 2004). What happens if an affair begins at work or somewhere else? Partners who are not involved in the affair are frequently hurt and require that their pain be recognized. The affair was the most visible issue, but there were others that made the couple open to making poor decisions.

Domestic work, sex, and parenthood are all reasonable relationship concerns. If a couple seeks counseling at this point, the focus might be directly on these issues. Sometimes one or both couples respond inappropriately to legitimate situations. Illegitimate responses include domestic violence, substance misuse, and affairs. Because the illegitimate response is so large in many circumstances, it momentarily negates the actual difficulties.

The affair was the most visible issue, but there were others that made the couple open to making poor decisions.

The partner who responded to real concerns about an affair must accept that the focus will be on the affair for a period of time before the legitimate problems can be addressed. It requires bravery to listen to the betrayed partner explain how the affair affected them. Similarly, some people who have had an affair may be unwilling to be open and honest with their partner for as long as it takes to regain trust. Nonetheless, these are critical milestones toward recovery.

While some couples work through an affair and the difficulties that led up to it, others find it easier to depart. In certain circumstances, they depart for the person with whom they had an affair. However, only a small fraction of affairs end in marriage. Unresolved contributions to a failed relationship leave a person vulnerable to repeating the same errors in future relationships.


If you or your partner have had an affair and are considering counseling, or if you have attempted counseling before and felt it didn't work, check for the following qualities in a therapist, according to Glass and Staeheli (2004):

Direction: Rather than sitting back and monitoring your interactions, a therapist should provide structure and direction. While listening is part of a therapist's job, it is done with a purpose: to help each partner acquire understanding and enable improvement.

Non-judgment, or unconditional regard for each spouse: The therapist is there to assist you in reaching your own conclusions, not to force you to leave or stay with the partner who had the affair.

Respecting each partner's hurt: There is no such thing as a negative feeling, although some emotions are difficult to feel. A therapist is there to maintain emotional space without minimizing them.

Concentrate on the affair: Sometimes the betrayed partner requires information regarding the affair. There are frequently underlying difficulties to the affair, yet the affair takes precedence. One of the most often mentioned reasons for frustration among betrayed partners is avoiding this focus.

Not blaming, but seeking understanding: A therapist can assist in identifying the flaws in an affair. Furthermore, we cannot change what we do not recognize. A therapist, on the other hand, is not there to criticize the unfaithful individual or their partner.

Patience: It takes time to resolve ambivalence and rebuild trust after an affair. According to Glass and Staeheli (2004), couples who stayed in therapy for more than 10 sessions had a better likelihood of remaining together than couples who left therapy early. A therapist must devote the necessary time to each step of the therapeutic process, regardless of how long it takes for each couple.

Taking our own inventory is more difficult than taking someone else's. Working on our own issues with honesty and self-compassion is even more difficult. However, if each spouse concentrates on themselves, the couple's prospects of reestablishing trust and closeness increase. Contact a licensed couples counselor if you believe your relationship is vulnerable to infidelity or has already experienced it.

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