First thing: Do not acquire a work spouse. You might think you can handle it, but you won’t be able to and when you figure that out it will be too late.
There is a natural progression in the workplace that can change an innocent friendship into a battle between mutual enemies with one’s livelihood and reputation at stake. Perhaps you have seen this happen, maybe even participated in it yourself. If not, take this as a word to the wise and be aware of what can happen among and between co-workers.
When you have a job, frequently that job causes you to interact with the same people. This is the co-worker stage. As with most human interactions, you will get along better with some of these co-workers than others for a multitude of reasons. The more positive relationships can evolve into the next stage – friends. Male or female, older or younger, black or white or whatever color. At this point, the field is pretty wide open for being friends at work.
Friends often see each other outside of work. Company-sponsored bowling leagues or similar interests such as birdwatching can bring work friends together. Almost anything that co-workers have in common can result in meeting up outside of work which can be just fine. Co-workers can share activities, interests, even family outings, and become good friends.
Going beyond friendship and activities that involve others leads to the stage of companionship. This is where things can start to go sideways. The two of you spend time online with each other. You start having lunch with just the two of you. You may even meet up to have a drink after work. Nothing wrong with any of these activities in and of themselves; they just lead to a slippery slope and perhaps some suspicion from others.
You are halfway down the slope when you become confidantes and start to share things with your companion that you don’t share with others. Confidantes have a special relationship that no one else feels and that relationship tends toward exclusivity. The stage of being confidantes cannot be maintained at work. It can go forward to a sexual relationship or skip that stage altogether and go directly to the final stage – enemy.
If you do proceed to a sexual relationship, then there can be an interlude of excitement, forbidden lust, and even a twinge of love. This stage won’t last long. Someone will find out and it will all be lost. If you do both manage to keep your jobs, you won’t be friends any longer. You won’t be confidantes. You probably won’t be civil to each other if you continue to work together which is doubtful. You will be work enemies, if not personal enemies. Final stage.
To keep off the slippery slope, simply avoid going past the friend stage with co-workers. Keep it simple. Draw a line. Then don’t cross it.
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