Work spouse flirting

21 Signs of Work Spouse Flirting!

Work spouse flirting is different from romantic flirting, and is fairly common in the workplace.

Most of us spend a lot of time at work – more than at home sometimes – so close friendships and ‘work spouses’ often naturally form.

If you’re trying to identify if your partner or one of your coworkers has a work spouse, here are 21 signs that reveal they’re flirting with them!


  • 21 Signs of Work Spouse Flirting
    • 1. You Catch Them Smiling at Each Other
    • 2. They Seem to Know What the Other is Thinking
    • 3. They Always Seem to Be Close to Each Other
    • 4. They Have a Lot of Inside Jokes
    • 5. You See Them Making Physical Contact
    • 6. You Catch Them Whispering
    • 7. They Stop Talking When Someone Gets Close
    • 8. They’re Not Shy About Complimenting Each Other
    • 9. They Lock Eyes Often
    • 10. They Always Rush to Help Each Other Out
    • 11. They Always Take Lunch Together
    • 12. They’ve Started Meeting Up Out of Work
    • 13. They Complain About Their Partners to Each Other
    • 14. You Catch Them Texting Each Other
    • 15. They’re Sad When One of Them Has a Day Off
    • 16. You Can Sense the Tension in the Air
    • 17. Other Coworkers Are Noticing Something Is Up
    • 18. They Pass Each Other Notes
    • 19. They Joke About Being Together
    • 20. They Are Defensive of Each Other
    • 21. It’s Just Obvious!
  • What Makes Someone a Work Spouse?

21 Signs of Work Spouse Flirting

1. You Catch Them Smiling at Each Other

If you notice your two coworkers smiling at one another more than anyone else, it could be a sign that they’re work spouses’.

2. They Seem to Know What the Other is Thinking

When coworkers can finish each other’s sentences, it’s a good sign that they know each other very well. More so than you’d expect from two regular coworkers.

3. They Always Seem to Be Close to Each Other

If you see them sitting or standing close to each other more often than not, it’s a sign that they’re physically comfortable with one another – a key sign of a work spouse relationship.

Related – How to handle your husband having a work wife!

4. They Have a Lot of Inside Jokes

If they’re always making jokes that only the two of them seem to get, it’s another sign that they have a close relationship.

5. You See Them Making Physical Contact

A quick touch on the arm or shoulder is normal between friends, but if you see them touching each other more than that, it’s a sign that they’re attracted to each other.

6. You Catch Them Whispering

Whispering between two people in a workplace always creates an awkward situation. It’s usually a sign that two people are flirting with one another, or talking about something they don’t want others to hear.

7. They Stop Talking When Someone Gets Close

Whispering or not, if they stop talking when someone gets close they clearly have something super-secret to talk about – and I bet it’s nothing to do with work!

8. They’re Not Shy About Complimenting Each Other

We all like to receive compliments, but if you notice one of your coworkers going out of their way to compliment the other, it’s a sign they’re flirting with their work spouse.

9. They Lock Eyes Often

Eye contact is always a giveaway when two people are flirting. If you keep catching two coworkers locking eyes and gazing at each other, it’s a sign they’re flirting.

10. They Always Rush to Help Each Other Out

If they’re always helping each other out, it’s a sign that they have a strong connection. Work spouses will go above and beyond to help each other in the workplace, just as spouses would do so out of work.

Related – Reasons why men have emotional affairs at work and how most emotional affairs end.

11. They Always Take Lunch Together

While it’s not unusual for coworkers to take their lunch break together, if they do so every day it could be a sign that they’re work spouses and taking the opportunity to get some alone time and flirt a little.

12. They’ve Started Meeting Up Out of Work

If they’re starting to meet up outside of work, it’s a sign that their relationship has moved beyond the workplace and into something more flirtatious or romantic.

13. They Complain About Their Partners to Each Other

While it’s not unusual to vent to a work spouse about your romantic partner (did your partner forget your anniversary?), if they’re always doing so it could be a subtle way of flirting and seeing how the other reacts.

14. You Catch Them Texting Each Other

If you catch them texting each other often, it’s a sign that they’re communicating about something that isn’t to do with work – which is a key sign of a work spouse relationship being taken up a notch.

15. They’re Sad When One of Them Has a Day Off

Work spouses get sad when they’re not able to see each other, just like regular spouses do. If you notice one of them looking down in the dumps when the other is out of the office, it’s a sign that they’re missing that flirtatious energy.

16. You Can Sense the Tension in the Air

When two people are attracted to each other, the tension is palpable. If you can sense the romantic tension between two coworkers, it’s a sign they’re flirting and close with one another.

17. Other Coworkers Are Noticing Something Is Up

If other coworkers are starting to gossip about the two of them and speculate whether they’re flirting or dating, it’s a sign that something obvious is going on in front of them!

18. They Pass Each Other Notes

If you catch work spouses passing notes back and forth to one another, it’s a sign that they’re flirting. This is something two people usually do to raise the tension and excitement at work.

Related – How to tell when two coworkers like each other and why correctional officers cheat!

19. They Joke About Being Together

If they’re always joking about being married or dating, it’s a way of flirting with one another and seeing how the other reacts. Sometimes work spouses take the ‘spouse’ part a little too far!

20. They Are Defensive of Each Other

If they’re always sticking up for each other and getting defensive, it’s a sign they have strong feelings for one another. Work spouses will go out of their way to protect each other if there are feelings involved.

21. It’s Just Obvious!

Sometimes, you don’t need any of these signs to know that two people are flirting with each other. If it’s just obvious from the way they interact and the chemistry they have, they can’t hide it if they try!

What Makes Someone a Work Spouse?

Just because two coworkers are work ‘spouses’, it doesn’t mean they should flirt with one another.

Quite the opposite, in fact, work spouses are two people who are close and spend a lot of time together at work, but there’s usually nothing romantic there.

However, when flirting does start creeping into that relationship it’s a sign that things are getting more serious than just work spouses.

It’s often a sign that there is an attraction there, and it’s likely that the innocent working relationship is going to become an emotional affair.

It might not even start as an emotional affair, the two of them might get physical if they’re meeting outside of work.

It’s hard to say how things are going to develop as each relationship is different.

But what I do know is that if work spouses are flirting, it means they’re overstepping work spouse boundaries and stepping into dangerous territory!

Image credits – Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

49 Work Spouse Signs You're Too Close & Rules to Follow

Work husbands and work wives are a natural setup at work. But don’t let your platonic office spouse accidentally have negative effects on your real romantic relationship.

Work husbands and wives are seen in almost every office: a *theoretically* platonic relationship in which two colleagues connect with and support each other in high-intensity work environments.

But why is it that it’s always a partner of the appealing sex? Why use such an endearing term? Isn’t it all a little suspicious?

Now, in theory, it’s a flawless idea. You have someone who acts as a spouse at work, and then when the working day is done, you go home to your actual wife or husband. What could possibly go wrong?

In fact, a survey in 2020 reported that 25 percent of workers had a work spouse at some point in time: 44% were men, and half of them were women.

You see, it can be dangerous. But then again, it can be great! 

Who honestly likes going to work every day, seeing the same people, listening to the same drama? This is where having a work husband or wife comes in handy. But what exactly is a work wife or work husband? [Read: How two people can have a purely platonic friendship]

What is a work-husband or work-wife relationship?

Basically, a work spouse is a deep friendship with an office mate.

Having a work spouse can be lots of fun, as they can brighten up an otherwise dull day in the office. A work spouse is someone who works with you and with whom you have a close relationship. They’re usually of the opposite or preferred sex.

The relationship isn’t sexual or romantic, though can get flirty at times. They act more like your favorite person in the office who you rely on and spend most of your time with. [Read: The good and bad of hooking up with someone in the workplace]

Lots of people have a work husband or wife because we spend so much time with the same group of people day in and day out. At work, we find those we build camaraderie with best and gravitate towards them. People spend, on average, around 40 hours a week at work. 

Forming close friendships and bonds makes a real difference to the enjoyment of being at work, makes the time pass more quickly, and generally makes you feel more positive and motivated in your job.

When close friendships form between members of the opposite sex, especially ones who see each other every day, things can become a little confusing. It’s important to understand what’s okay and what’s not, especially in the workplace, and even more so if your real spouse is waiting for you at home! [Read: How to make friends who want to stay platonic]

How to know if you have a work spouse

If any of you have seen The Office, you already know a work spouse is very tricky. Sure, you have someone to rely on in the office, someone to confide in. They’re your emotional and professional rock—you’re a team. 

But when does this one work relationship become too much? This partnership you have has the possibility of becoming more intense, more… romantic.

Of course, sometimes it actually works out for the best, but, in many cases, it doesn’t. But before we even get into that, what are the signs you have a work wife or work husband? Well, you’re about to find out now. The signs are subtle, but they’re there. [Read: 18 emotional affair signs you probably never noticed]

1. You’re together… a lot

At work, you’re two peas in a pod. Whether there’s a conference, lunch, or hang-out, you guys are by each other’s side. 

In fact, when people don’t see you two together, they usually end up asking where the other person is. Everyone in the office sees you two as one—which may not be the best thing if you’re already in a relationship.


You spend a lot of time together outside of the office

For some work husbands and wives, their relationship only extends to the 9-5 office hours, which is fine. In fact, it’s a good boundary to have if you worry about someone developing feelings. [Read: How to keep flirting at work harmless and fun]

But some workplace spouses can actually spend a large amount of time together outside of the office as well.

3. You gossip together

You can’t trust anyone else when it comes to sharing gossip. But with your work wife or work husband, you have no problem coming to their cubicle during the day for a quick chat to tell them what just happened.

If you can spill the beans and not have to worry about anyone finding out, well, you have yourself a work husband or wife.

4. They’re the first person you go to

Whether you’re having a bad day at work, just received a promotion, or had a fight with another coworker, they’re the first person you vent to or ask for advice. Sure, you could tell someone else, but why would you? What’s really important is that they’re the one who hears the good news.

5. You share secrets with each other

Well, it wouldn’t be much of a wife/husband dynamic if you didn’t share secrets with each other, right? In order to build a strong relationship, you both need to be trustworthy. [Read: How to be friends without crossing the platonic line]

You’ve probably told your work spouse secrets that you wouldn‘t dream of telling anyone else in the office and vice versa.

6. You have no problem being honest with them

You can’t be completely honest with everyone, especially at work. Are you going to tell your boss that they look fat in those pants? Or that your co-worker is too much of a gossip? No, you’re only going to share those things with your work spouse.

But seriously, you have no problem telling your work husband or wife that they’re being annoying today or that you didn’t like what they said to you earlier today. You can be real with them. [Read: An insight into a rare relationship – platonic friends]

7. You have each other’s backs

This is what a real relationship comes down to. Do you have their backs, and do they have yours? If you can’t rely on this person to support you through thick and thin at work. 

Well, they’re just like all the other colleagues in the office. What makes a work wife or work husband is the fact that you know you can rely on them no matter what.

8. At work parties, you hang out with them

At your office Christmas party or at happy hour, instead of mingling with your other co-workers, you stick close to this person. In fact, if they don’t go, you usually bail on work events as well. It wouldn’t be the same without them! [ Signs you’re madly in love with your coworker]

9. They’re on your mind outside of work

If something funny happens on the weekend, you want to text them and tell them. They’re on your mind all the time.  

Though it sounds nice, this is usually a red flag that you’re developing feelings. If you’re single, fine. But if you’re in a relationship, this isn’t good. [Read: Signs you’re emotionally attached and falling hard for someone]

10. You don’t want them to meet your actual spouse

You like your work husband or wife, and you love your real-life spouse, but you don‘t want them to ever meet. These are two worlds that you want to keep separated. But if that‘s the case, then you need to be asking yourself why. It sounds like you’re catching feelings.

11. You talk about them a lot

They could actually just be a hilarious person, so you have to talk about them. But if you’re constantly talking about them in conversation, it’s a clear sign that you’re developing feelings for them.

Think about it. You don’t talk about people that you’re not interested in. [Read: Pros and cons of banging a coworker in the office]

12. Your teamwork is on a whole other level

There’s a reason why you two are each other’s work husband or wife; you make a great team. Of course, you should use this to your benefit as your boss loves the work results.

The reason why you two work so well together is you both actually enjoy each other’s companies and work off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. [Read: Important habits you need to be independent]

13. You speak your own language

At work, you two basically communicate in your own private language. Maybe it’s through eye glances, jokes, or memes, but the point is you two are vibing. Not to mention your co-workers probably hate it, but who cares about them anyways?

Benefits of having a work husband or work wife

Having a work spouse isn’t inherently good or bad. It just depends on the individuals involved. So, let’s talk about some of the advantages of having a work husband or wife.

1. The feeling of companionship at work

A lot of people see their coworkers more often than their own family. And if you don’t have people you are close to at work, it can feel isolating and lonely.

So, when you have a work spouse, you always have someone as an outlet, especially whenever you need to vent about work-related problems. It will also feel less stressful if someone who can relate to those problems validates your feelings and provides emotional support. [Read: 16 signs of sexual tension between coworkers that can’t be hidden]

2. You have someone to collaborate with

Unless you are an extreme introvert, most people like to work with others and not be alone. And when you have a work spouse, you get to do just that! You can work on a project together and not have to take on the workload all by yourself, thus helping you get that work-life balance.

3. You can help maximize work productivity

When you are working on similar things, you can brainstorm together and assign tasks according to each other’s specific talents. For example, maybe one of you is better at writing and the other at running the numbers. You can maximize your work productivity together.

4. Boosts confidence at work

It always feels good to be a part of a team, right? So, having a work husband or wife can make you feel a lot more confident when you are at work.

You have someone who has your back and will always be your cheerleader when you need it. [Read: How to build self-confidence – 16 ways to realize you’re worth it]

Cons of an office spouse

Just like with anything in life, nothing is always good or always bad. So, there are also some disadvantages to having a work spouse. Here are some of them.

1. Jealousy in the workplace

If your work spouse tends to be popular with everyone, then other people could be jealous that you are so close to them. Whether it’s because someone has a romantic interest in your work spouse or they just wish they could hang out with them more, there could be jealousy that happens because of your connection to each other.

2. Competition with other coworkers

If some coworkers don’t have the same type of relationship with another person as you do with your work spouse, that could foster competition. Or even if they do, they – along with their own work spouse – might be competitive with you and yours. [Read: What to do when a relationship with a coworker ends]

3. Can cause problems between you and your romantic partner

This is the most obvious and dangerous disadvantage to having a work husband or wife. Either of your real romantic partners or spouses might get jealous of the connection that the two of you have. It might take away time and emotional energy from your real partner, and that can cause problems in your relationship.

Work husband-wife rules you must follow

While a work spouse is great fun, it’s important to consider learning those unwritten work spouse rules that both parties should stick to and ensure the friendship is a lasting and successful one and that everyone remains on the same page.

A friendship at work that turns sour can be extremely distressing and make life very difficult for you. It turns what was a fun and pleasant atmosphere into somewhere you just don’t want to be!

Learning the work spouse rules and sticking to them makes sure this doesn’t happen for you. [Read: How to recognize the signs of jealousy in someone and guide them out]

First, identify whether you might have a work husband or wife. Usually, a work spouse is someone you depend upon, whether that’s for important advice or sharing coffee! 

You spend your breaks with them, confide in them, spend time outside work with them, share jokes just the two of you get, be really honest with them, and they know loads about your personal life too.

Sound familiar? Then, you probably have a work husband or wife! So, what exactly are these work spouse rules you should stick to? Let’s take a look at them. [Read: Relationship rules – 30 must-know tips to live your best life]

1. Make sure you are clear from the outset

If you feel yourself getting close to someone of the opposite sex at work, that’s fine. But making sure you are clear about what kind of friendship you look for ensures you are both on the same page from the outset. 

If you aren’t or you hide the fact you are already in a relationship, this leads to confusion, misread signals, and hurt feelings. [Read: Crucial steps for setting healthy boundaries]

2. Don’t shut out your co-workers

Try not to be too exclusive with your work husband or wife. While it’s fine to get on better with some people than others, if you don’t make an effort to talk to any of your other colleagues and spend every minute of the workday with your work spouse, you’ll soon become the subject of office gossip. Perhaps you will miss out on having a more fulfilling social life too.

3. Set boundaries and stick to them

You know what kind of behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. What your partner at home tolerates and what they would be hurt or angered by is only something you know. 

Set clear boundaries and make sure you keep them. It’s a good idea to communicate these to your work spouse as well. Try and do this early on so there is no confusion. [Read: How to handle a coworker crush like an adult]

4. Keep it light, and don’t bring them into complicated home life situations

You shouldn’t really bring too much of your personal life into the workplace, no matter how close you feel to your work husband or wife. If you end up telling them every last detail about your real relationship, this could be crossing a line.

There is nothing wrong with bonding, but try to keep it light and fun. Have other friends outside work to rely on for the deep and meaningful stuff.

5. Don’t spend too much time alone

If you and your work spouse always sneak off together, you set tongues wagging. It’s much better to socialize as a group too!

6. Don’t flirt

A work husband or wife is a friend. It’s important to recognize that and not blur the lines. It can be nice to get the attention of someone other than your partner, but by flirting with your work spouse, you give off signals you shouldn’t. It potentially leads to somewhere pretty dangerous. [Read: How to have a perfectly platonic relationship]

7. Talk about your real partner and introduce them to one another

If your work spouse and your partner know each other, this makes life easier and also keeps those boundaries really clear.

8. If feelings develop, create some distance

Spending so much time with a person who you really like can lead to feelings developing which can be very confusing. If you feel as though you developed feelings like sexual attraction or something much deeper for your work husband or wife, give yourself a breather. Remember that your loyalty should be with your real spouse and not with your male or female co-worker.

9. Don’t talk too much about your work spouse at home

It’s pretty annoying for your real partner to hear you bang on about how great someone else is all the time. So, try and keep your praise to a minimum! [Read: 18 signs you’re emotionally attached to your work spouse and don’t know it]

10. Avoid alcohol

It’s fine to enjoy some after-work drinks from time to time, but getting really drunk together could lead to crossing the line. Then, there is no going back!

11. Keep your relationship drama free

A work husband or wife shouldn’t be someone you have a big dramatic relationship with, nor should it be too intense even when you have some disagreements at times. Keep drama out of your working friendships. [Read: Platonic rules to just be friends minus the drama]

12. Make sure your relationship develops for the right reasons

If you find yourself getting really close to someone at work, it is a good idea to just check in with yourself and make sure it’s just because you enjoy their company and they make your working days a bit more fun. 

If it’s because things aren’t right in your relationship at home, then you need to address this. Don’t use your work spouse as a way of fixing things or gaining some relief.

By following the tips above, you make sure you keep a healthy work-spouse relationship while not affecting your real relationship back home. [Read: Platonic friends – how to be platonic friends without sexual drama]

Maybe it’s not you who has the work spouse, but rather your own spouse that does. If that’s true, you might be a little *or a lot* uncomfortable with the situation. What if they get too close to each other? What are the signs that you should be concerned about? 

One or two of the below signs shouldn’t be overly troubling, but more than a few might be a reason to worry. These signs, though not definitive, may clue you in on whether or not your partner’s relationship with his or her work husband or wife is more than what it seems.

1. Your partner suddenly starts spending long hours at work

 This is one of those things that can creep up on you – especially if your partner is usually a workaholic.

However, if you slowly start seeing your partner’s workdays lengthen, it could mean something is awry. [Read: Signs your partner’s coworker is too close for comfort]

Maybe their workload is increasing… but maybe they’re spending a little more time with their work partner than they should. And that means that they’re choosing time with their work husband or wife over time spent with you.

2. Your partner’s phone becomes off limits

Does your partner snatch their phone away when you pick it up? Has your partner installed any “messaging apps” like Snapchat? It could be a way to hide their communications from you. They may assume that you won’t figure it out.

Another way that your partner may try to hide things from you is by setting it so that their text messages don’t show up as an alert. On iPhones and most Android phones, a text message will usually show the message itself.

If the message alert box pops up with just “text message” when it didn’t before, you know your partner set it to hide the message. It may be time to start asking some questions. [Read: 18 sneaky ways you can catch a cheating partner]

3. Your partner has in-jokes with their work husband or wife that they can’t even explain to you

Sometimes a joke is just a joke. But here’s the problem: “It’s just a joke” is an easy way to write off things that are massively inappropriate. It also means that they don’t value you enough to even try to explain something that they find funny.

Don’t buy the “it’s just a joke” excuse. Have your partner explain it to you. If you don’t get it, then you don’t get it. But at least you know that they’re willing to try rather than just write you off.

4. Your partner starts taking all of their lunches with their work spouse

The whole point of a work “spouse” is to have someone who has your back in a stressful work environment. Someone to vent to who understands. So, taking a lunch break or two with them is fine. [Read: Opposite sex friendships – 24 rules, boundaries, and where we go wrong]

But when all of your partner’s lunches are exclusively with their office husband or wife, it’s an entirely different situation. Aren’t their work hours enough to encompass whatever needs to be discussed? 

Why is the work spouse invading your partner’s lunch hour? Is that much time together even healthy? Your partner has some explaining to do.

5. Your partner doesn’t want you to meet their work husband or wife

This is an obvious red flag – but it may not be for the reasons you think. It’s not just that they’re hiding you from the work spouse or vice versa. It’s that they’re hiding themselves from their work husband or wife. [Read: Emotional cheating vs. friendship – the point when a line is crossed]

When a person is attracted to someone, they present their “best self,” which is a sort of congratulatory fiction that makes them seem fantastic. They want to keep that fiction up, and they don’t want you to see them acting more charming, witty, and cultured than they ordinarily would. 

In short, you might catch on to the fact that your partner is acting completely different around their work spouse, and not in an entirely professional manner, to boot.

6. Your partner stops mentioning you on Facebook

Some people don’t use Facebook a lot. That’s not a bad thing. But if your spouse’s Facebook activity has drastically changed in recent months, you should be worried. [Read: Social media and relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly]

Did your spouse stop tagging you in photos? Instead of saying “out to dinner with the wife,” are they just saying “out to dinner?” An omission can still be a lie.

This is extremely common when a partner is feigning a bad relationship with their spouse. Your partner could be telling their work spouse that your marriage is falling apart or that they barely get time to see you. They could even be convincing the work spouse that you’re separated!

7. Your partner and their work husband or wife have “their own friends” 

Once your partner starts going out with their work spouse and not including you, usually because “it’s all people from work,” you’ve been cut out of a huge portion of their life. And it’s time to find out why. [Read: Tips to be good friends with your coworkers]

It’s perfectly fine for someone to want to go out and leave their wife or husband at home sometimes. But there should be a standing invite open. If you want to go out with them and their friends, why should your partner prevent you from doing so?

If they’re reluctant to include you in their social life, your partner may be preventing a meeting between you and the work spouse *see #5*, he or she doesn’t want to include you in the circle of friends that includes the work spouse, or something incredibly fishy is up! [Read: Types of friends you want to keep away from your partner]


Your partner and their work husband or wife have more of a history than they initially let on

When “Kate from accounting” becomes “Kate from accounting… who I also went to high school with,” it’s a huge red flag. If your spouse omitted something big about their past history with this person, it’s because it’s important. Don’t buy that it’s “no big deal” or that it “slipped their mind.” This is never true.

After all, your partner is spending their entire day with this person. Their past history is bound to come up. The only reason a partner would fail to mention it is because they purposely omitted this information in the hope that you’ll never find out. [Read: Sure ways to know if you’re dating a cheater]

9. Your partner starts taking an interest in new hobbies, music, movies, and events that they were never interested in before

Do you remember the last time you started picking up new interests all of a sudden? It’s usually when you first start dating someone new. Picking up new interests is a way to bond with a new love interest. It’s a way for your spouse to seem more interesting to their new flame.

Now, if your wife suddenly takes up an interest in knitting because it calms her down, that’s one thing. But if your wife suddenly starts taking up an interest in EDM and then casually drops that her work spouse DJs as a hobby, that’s something else entirely. [Read: 18 signs your partner is having an emotional affair]

That means that your spouse is spending their time trying to become more interesting to another person.

10. Your partner starts becoming enmeshed in their work husband or wife’s personal issues

Is their work spouse going through an unpleasant divorce? Dealing with problems with their kids? Dealing with a ton of debt?

This is a sign that their relationship has gone beyond the office and is now extending into day-to-day life. Why is that bad? Because that’s what you’re there for. 

Your spouse should be talking to you about their personal issues, and their “work spouse” should be talking to their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family.  

Once it moves beyond a work relationship, there may be a degree of emotional investment involved. [Read: Emotional cheating and the things it can do to you]

11. Your partner trash talks their work husband or wife incessantly

Do you feel okay about your partner’s work wife because he says she’s “fat?” Or maybe you’re OK with your partner’s work husband because he’s “incredibly stupid?”

Trash talking a work spouse is often used as a distancing mechanism. A partner may sense that they are getting too close to their work spouse and start using distancing language to indicate that they really don’t like that person all that much.

But obviously, you’re not stupid. If this person was really as unintelligent, irritating, or unappealing as your partner says, why would they be spending so much of their free time with them? This is a huge red flag: the negativity is hiding something else that’s there. [Read: 22 practical ways to save your relationship when it’s falling apart]


Your partner becomes suspicious of your work friends

If your partner is having an inappropriate relationship with their work spouse, they’ll magically become very suspicious and jealous of any of your colleagues. This is because they may think that you are doing what they are doing. Heightened jealousy is just another sign of cheating – in any situation.

It isn’t overly controlling behavior to ask your spouse to take a step away from someone that they are spending way too much time with. 

The entire concept of a “work husband” or “work wife” already toes the line of acceptability in a relationship. If your spouse doesn’t want to give up the comfort of their work partner for your comfort, something is already wrong. [Read: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship and learn to overcome it]

What to do when your real husband or wife feels insecure about your work spouse

If you are the one who has a work spouse, your real partner might be very insecure about their counterpart. If you show any of the signs we just discussed, then it’s time that you make it right with your real romantic partner. Here are some things you can do to make them feel better.

1. Introduce them to one another

One of the reasons your real partner might be jealous is because they have never met your work husband or wife. They might feel like you are keeping them a secret, and for good reason. So, if you introduce the two of them, then they will probably feel comfortable enough and even get along with one another.

2. Give them reassurance 

Talk to your partner about your work spouse. If you don’t, their imagination might run wild and think that you are having an affair. So, give them reassurance that this isn’t true. Let them know how much you love them and that you aren’t going anywhere. [Read: Attachment styles theory – 4 types and 19 signs and ways you attach to others]

3. Spend less time with your work spouse

You might not mean to spend so much time with your work husband or wife, but maybe you do accidentally. So, be mindful of how much time and attention you are taking away from your real romantic partner. Spend more time with them and less time with your work spouse.

4. Prioritize your partner over your work husband or wife

Sure, work is important. But it shouldn’t be so important that it takes over your personal time. So, if you find that you are talking to or seeing your work spouse outside of normal work hours, stop doing that. Make your real partner your top priority, and let them know through your actions.

5. Establish boundaries with your work spouse

This one is very important. Set up rules for both of you to follow. For example, there should be certain times that they can and can’t text or call you – like after 8:00 p.m. 

Or you can’t go out together after work and only hang out at lunchtime. Whatever both of you see as reasonable, those are the boundaries you should set and follow.

[Read: Ways to keep flirting at work harmlessly innocent and fun]

There is no problem with having a work husband or wife. In fact, there can be lots of benefits. But if it’s not kept completely platonic, then you and our work spouse might need to take a step back and follow our rules. 

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They asked a psychologist: what to do if a husband flirts with a young colleague

When a woman begins to suspect her man, Mrs. Marple immediately gets used to her and she begins to conduct a secret investigation to find out with whom her missus is communicating.

When she realizes that this is a profurnet from work, then, as a rule, a woman does not begin to change herself and treats the situation easier, but begins to beat her husband and accuse him of all mortal sins. What is the result: tears, scandals, showdowns and even treason.

But what would be the right way to behave? The psychologist on family relations, Olga Romaniv, tells.

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Why a man flirts at work

Firstly, work makes up a large part of the life of a modern person: there he realizes himself and manifests himself. Most people live according to the work-home pattern. Accordingly, where else can a man flirt if not at work?

At home he has already conquered a woman and sees no place for flirting, and his wife does not support intrigue at home
or a game for your spouse. Whether it's a young secretary, who now and then winks or smiles mysteriously: here a man immediately wants to prove himself as a male and win this coquette.

Of course, men do this, first of all, for self-affirmation, self-esteem improvement. If we are talking about harmless flirting without continuation, then we can refer to this as a game where your husband needs to understand that he is still young and interesting.

But if you feel that harmless flirting is over the top, then you need to arm yourself!

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What to do if the husband is infatuated with a colleague

Of course, this situation is very unpleasant, and makes you anxious, worried and nervous. But now is not the time to panic, pull yourself together and act! Your family life is at stake, and it is worth fighting for it.

Act like you don't know anything

Don't start checking his phone, his pockets, and sniffing his shirts for women's perfume. Do not get hung up on thoughts of a possible betrayal.

If you show your jealousy to a man, it will irritate him. He will perceive your suspicions as an encroachment on his personal space. Pretend that you don't know anything, but you love your husband very much. Let him know that he is the best and most desirable for you.

Pay more attention to your man

Perhaps he lacks ease in family life. Start meeting your husband from work in beautiful underwear, or on the way home, write to him that he will have an unforgettable evening. In the middle of the work day, send a sexual message so that his thoughts are occupied with nightly leisure, and not with the secretary's long legs.

Try to be light and relaxed, men need it.

Thank him

Gratitude has a very good effect on relationships. Say “thank you” to your husband as often as possible, and before he leaves for work, remind him that you are waiting for him.

Subconsciously, a man will want to go home because he will feel that he is expected and safe. He will not expect that after a hard day, he will have a showdown with his wife at home, who will nag and reproach him. Your husband realizes that his wife is pleasant, grateful, gentle... A dream, not a woman!

Understand your relationship

Ask yourself: "Why is he flirting with a young girl?"

Look at your family life and your relationships. Perhaps it all comes down to everyday life and family
problems literally crushed both you and your husband. Start changing, arrange a romantic evening for your loved one, invite him to the cinema. Try to change the attitude towards your marriage by adding a little color to the gray everyday life.


Olga Romaniv

family psychologist, matchmaker, writer, founder and head of the Classics of Relations Dating Club

What impression did this article make on you?

“My husband flirts with others in front of me and says that I have low self-esteem”

Question to an expertJealousyInfidelity

Two months ago I found my husband's correspondence with another woman. I knew about her - my husband did not hide the fact that he was talking with a work colleague. As it turned out, not only on work topics. The most interesting thing is that he works in one city, the office is in another, and we live in the third. The husband rarely flies to the office where a colleague works. Two years ago he worked in an office. I think that's when the relationship started.

Now my husband comes home every weekend. In October, we had a major quarrel, after which he offered to live separately. I didn't know about my colleague then. For a month he was not at home due to work, and when he arrived, he behaved like a stranger. Somehow I managed to normalize our relations, and then he had to go to the office, in another city. He was there for a couple of days. And on the night when I was supposed to go home, I turned off the phone. Arrived just in time for lunch.

And just after this incident, something clicked in me, I looked into his phone and saw a correspondence where a colleague asked him to walk the dog until he left the house (the office rents him an apartment in that city and it is not clear which house they were talking about), asked to buy some of the products. He answers my questions that I actually know about their meetings, but I could not give a clear answer about the dog. She also sent him candid photos, although they were in different cities. He tells me that he does not hide: he has a wife and children, and immediately indicates that he will not leave the family anywhere.

After giving birth, I gained a lot of weight, although my husband asked me to lose weight. Now I took on myself - I lost weight, I began to take care of myself. The husband is happy, he boasts to everyone what kind of wife he has. Meanwhile, he doesn’t miss a chance to flirt with me and at the same time focuses my attention, they say, look, they pay attention to me. And when I tell him that I'm not particularly pleased, he replies that I have a problem with self-esteem.

Naturally, I feel insecure after I found out about his relationship with a colleague, and he does not want to dispel my doubts or starts to freak out. He says that I'm tired of him with my suspicions, and at the same time declares that there was nothing, only flirting. Or, on the contrary, he teases me, says: "I'll go, I'll take a walk with the dog. " He likes that I'm jealous, you see. And at the same time, he constantly tells me about my self-esteem, they say, he did not know that I had it underestimated.

I'm in a big stalemate. Whether to believe him that there was no betrayal and everything is at the level of flirting (although a colleague, I'm sure, has her eye on my husband and is trying with all her might to take him away, and he likes the attention of a younger girl). I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to lose my husband, but it’s also very painful from his behavior. I talk about my feelings, but he still continues to behave like this, but at the same time he says that he loves both me and the children. The most interesting thing is that now, when we do not touch on this topic, everything is fine with us - hugs, kisses, gives expensive gifts and order in bed.

Svetlana, 40 years old

Hello, Svetlana. I agree with your husband on only one point - you may have a problem with self-esteem. You do not know how to set personal boundaries and got into a dependent relationship with a manipulator.

This obviously started when your husband was in correspondence with another woman. He considered this normal and used gaslighting - a typical manipulator's trick when the truth is twisted: to say in black that it is white. Gaslighters can skillfully convince their victims that there was no betrayal, even if they were caught in bed. Not to mention your situation, where he tries to hide or blur the facts as much as possible.

I cannot assess whether there was a betrayal. And this is not required to solve your situation. It is enough just to assess his attitude towards your feelings.

You say that flirting with others is unpleasant and painful for you. However, instead of listening and respecting your experience, he continues to hurt you. He behaves like he did. It speaks of disrespect, manipulation and gaslighting.

He tries to make it sound like it's okay to flirt with others. But if you try to flirt with other men and hide the correspondence, I'm sure that he will react very harshly to this. It's called a "double standard": I can, you can't. These are signs of manipulation and your dependence on him.

I can understand your feelings, your attachment to your husband and your reluctance to break up your family. However, unfortunately, there is no other way than to put a hard line and accept the possibility that he can leave, if you respect yourself and want peace of mind. Tell him that you can’t do this and you are ready to leave because of this. This must be declared. Be prepared for him to provoke you. He will be sure that you will not dare to do this, that you will give up.

Fear of loneliness, fear of destroying relationships, fear of losing your husband - this is your weakness, which he manipulates

Usually in such cases, I recommend the “Slippers in the Garden” method - this is a moratorium on communication and relationships. Tell the man that because of his behavior, you can no longer trust him. Therefore, you propose to live separately for a month, not to communicate, not to call up, not to correspond with you or your children. During this time, he must understand whether he needs this relationship, whether he needs you.

At this moment, the man undergoes serious mental processes of rethinking. In the beginning, of course, he can find someone. But in a month, you may realize how valuable you are to him and how valuable your family is to him.

And if he comes back in a month and says “I want to keep the relationship”, at that moment you need to set new boundaries and accept the rules in the relationship by which you will live. You can’t just take and forgive him, believe his promises. We need new rules and new sanctions for breaking them.

And it is better to do it through family therapy with a psychologist who will explain to him that he uses manipulations in relationships, find the reasons for such behavior. Joint family therapy may be your condition for returning the relationship.

In fact, if a man causes jealousy and tries to show that he is attractive in the eyes of other women, then this also indicates his problems with self-esteem.

It is he who needs the attention and adoration of many women. He cannot be content with love alone. He wants to feel constantly needed and attractive. This is the problem of narcissists and low self-esteem. And manipulators are precisely those people who suffer from a lack of self-confidence. But instead of working on self-esteem and getting support in honest, open relationships, they deceive and use others to get support and admiration in this dishonest way.

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