It’s no secret that over 80% of unfaithful people meet their affair partners at work. This “work affairs” phenomenon is well-known.

work affairs

By Sarah P.

A good friend of mine had a very “cringe inducing” experience, when she went to a receive a professional service, at a locally owned business.

This blog post is not about my friend, per se.  It’s about the experience she observed among coworkers, and my takeaways from her observation, as seen through the lens of affair recovery.

It’s no secret that over 80% of unfaithful people meet their affair partners at work. This phenomenon is well-known.

Some treat it as a joke and say there is nothing wrong with having a “work husband” or a “work wife.” While I believe these people are well-intentioned, I don’t think they grasp, that normalization of the concept of a “work spouse,” opens a door to a very slippery slope.

The construct of a slippery slope exists for a reason:

  • Mountain climbers fall to their deaths on slippery slopes.
  • Skiers break their legs on slippery slopes.
  • 20 car pile-ups, often happen on slippery slopes.
  • Slippery slopes are not necessarily a good thing.

Sometimes it is best to recognize and avoid slippery slopes. That’s why “work spouses” and work affairs should never be normalized.

It opens a door, since marriage itself, implies a sexual relationship. In many states, people can still file an annulment if they never “consummated” their marriage. In short, if you did not have sex with your spouse AFTER getting married, there is no marriage, since there was no sexual experience.

My Friend’s Story

My friend, Jane, lives in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, and she goes to a small business often. She has told me in the past, that she felt a very strange vibe from the male and (married) owner of the business, when he had conversations with his receptionist.

My friend used to be able to call and ask the business owner questions. But, now the receptionist intercepts all calls.

Jane also said the receptionist follows the owner, wherever he goes, and the receptionist often speaks FOR the owner. Or, the receptionist interrupts, and speaks OVER the owner.

Odd much? A little. But, let’s delve into why Jane felt something was metaphorically “rotten in Denmark.”

Jane recounted that she had a scheduled appointment, this past month. The receptionist told Jane that she must show up on time. (Jane generally shows up early.)

Jane said showed up at her scheduled time, and had to wait for over 30 minutes, in the small lobby, when the office was not even busy.

Jane recounted that a mother with a young child, were also waiting, as the receptionist zipped in and out, telling everyone just to wait a moment longer.

The child, who was full of energy, had nothing to do, and came to speak to Jane.

Finally, the receptionist called Jane’s name, and told her THEY (the receptionist and the business owner) were ready to see her.

The child had taken a liking to Jane, as all children do, because Jane adores children. As Jane started to leave the waiting room, the child asked her, “Wait, where are you going? Why are you leaving? And what is going to happen?”

Jane shrugged her shoulders and joked, “Well, either I am going to get my teeth cleaned, my house remodeled, OR I am going to a marriage counseling session. Take your pick!”

The mother and son both laughed at Jane’s answer.

When the Affair Partners Work Together

Jane recounted that when she turned around, the receptionist and the business owner were blushing 20 shades of red.

One might also wonder if they were blushing 50 shades of gray?

Jane recounted the professional consult went down like a lead balloon. Jane said all three of them, sat in a small room to talk, about pricing on a product and service.

Jane said both the receptionist and the owner of the business, tripped over their words, kept blushing, and had extremely awkward body language.

Jane said it dawned on her during the meeting, that since the receptionist and the business owner heard her comment, WITHOUT CONTEXT, they likely assumed she was referring to them, in some way.

I would posit that it was likely the marriage counseling statement, which caused them to blush.

Jane recounted that the receptionist and business owner, both looked as if they were a couple of cats, who had gotten caught, swallowing the canary.

Jane said the business owner had to leave the meeting, and he told his receptionist to go over the professional proposal, along with payment, alone with Jane.

Apparently….this was the first time the owner had bowed out of meetings, and turned the meeting over to the receptionist, who had no professional knowledge of the field, in which the business owner worked.

My very close friends know (some) of what I do for a living, and occasionally they will approach me with awkward encounters, they have had.

Jane told me she felt so terrible, that she caused them to feel uncomfortable. Jane asked me if she should send a formal apology to them.

I told her that within the context of the situation, there was nothing to apologize for, since she was making a joke to the people with whom she had been speaking.

Jane was joking about concepts that most people find stressful or tedious. Jane was also speaking to the mother and her child, not to the owner and the receptionist.

Elements of A Heartfelt Apology after the Affair

So What Was Up with That?

Well, let’s go back to the statistics…

  • Over 80% of affairs start with coworkers.
  • Men and women who have very visible assets and social status  – such as the business owner, whom Jane knows, are in high demand.
  • It’s very easy for a married person – in this case a man with children at home – to get pulled into a relationship with a “fun, attractive, younger woman,” whom he works with each day.

I came across an astounding article, several weeks ago, that I would love to use as a reference, and I regret that I don’t remember where it was posted. After all, I did not think I would come across a real-life situation, that demonstrated exactly what the article said.

The article topic was about the unthinkable…“What Married Men Look for in a Mistress”

I never thought that the time would come, where someone would study, what married men look for in a mistress.

Alas, I was wrong. Someone has been studying this and has a large collection of data on the topic.

Say what? Did we just step into the multiverse?

After all, when people are taking marriage vows, they look each other in the eyes, in front of hundreds of people, and they promise to “forsake all others.”

Married men or women thinking about – and spending lots of time thinking about – what makes the perfect mistress (or paramour), is the ultimate oxymoron.

The word “moron” in oxymoron, is there for a reason.   

It would be like pondering that the color green is very red. Green will never be red, and to spend time thinking about such a bogus concept, would be a moronic waste of time.

Green and red can exist, separately as constructs, on Christmas ornaments. But, pondering how green is so red is a very simple example of an oxymoron. Green is not red and it never will be.

Other common oxymorons are:

  • Bright shadows
  • Joyful depression
  • Happy infidelity

Apparently, our society has reached a point where married people are thinking about what makes the perfect affair partner, while many websites exist for helping married men and women find the perfect affair partner.

Why People Cheat in Relationships

In this case, the article I read, said that married men, consider the perfect mistress to be something like this:

  • Single
  • Loves yoga
  • Has a college degree
  • Has no children
  • Athletic with big breasts
  • No older than 32

If you just slammed the lid of your laptop, or threw your phone across the room, you are in good company.

I slammed the lid of my laptop, after I read that article.

After all, MARRIAGE IS MONOGAMOUS and there are laws that banned polygamy, long ago. In some states, you can still get your partner arrested, if you have proof they have committed infidelity.

Even the laws – in the USA – uphold the idea that marriage includes only two people, which is the definition of monogamy.


Apparently not.

The selfish of the world, have officially made the phrase, “MONOGAMOUS MARRIAGES,” into  an oxymoron.

work affairs

Work Affairs – What to Do When You Get “Bad Vibes” from Your Spouse’s Coworker?

Well, we already know that most affairs start at work. If we get “bad vibes” from a spouse’s coworker,  we are likely picking up on what is called “micro communication.”

People behave in ways, that are subtle, and we may not be consciously aware of these behavioral signals others send. 

However, our mind is filtering data, all day long, even if we cannot put words to the feeling that makes us uncomfortable.

  • Gather evidence that cannot be refuted or explained away, since over 90% of unfaithful people deny the affair, if they are NOT presented with proof. Sadly, some people deny the affair even when caught.
  • Call all of the best attorneys in town – and get a free consult – with as many as you can. Talking to an attorney does not mean you will divorce. But, attorneys are essential because they can tell you about YOUR RIGHTS, as they pertain to laws in your state, and an attorney can provide you with essential strategies.
  • It might be a good idea to join a free self-help group and/or receive therapy. This way, you don’t have to call family members, until you have FACTS. Also, the right professional can do wonders.
  • Gather evidence and document patterns.

If you would like to learn more about the general principles of reading body language, here is an excellent TED video.

What to Do If You Find Out Your Spouse’s Coworker Is More than a Friend

At some point you will need to confront the issue. But, you must be prepared.

Some cheaters, when confronted, will intentionally cause you to feel crazy and gaslight you into the next galaxy.

Others will become very angry and point out all of YOUR FLAWS.

Many cheaters, will go to great lengths to minimize.

They want you to pretend everything is fine, so that they don’t have to confront what they are doing.

However, there is a very important caveat to consider. Uncovering an affair can cause a very unsafe situation.

Someone, who had married into my extended family, committed suicide, due to infidelity.

Other people are the victims of homicides.

Tread carefully.

The goal is to protect your marriage and interests. If there is an abusive dynamic in a marriage, confronting an affair can be dangerous.

While every marriage has ups and downs, adults are responsible for THEIR choices.

To have an affair because your marriage has hit a rough patch, is like setting your entire house on fire, because you don’t like the couch in the living room.

If your spouse is having an affair with a coworker, there is an excellent book, to guide you.

The wonderful and blessed Shirley Glass wrote a book about this, “Not Just Friends,” which is more relevant than ever.

The Sage who was Shirley Glass, PhD, left this earthly realm far too soon. But, she left us with the gift of wisdom that has changed millions of lives. It’s still my own “go to” book.

Shirley Glass was truly a pioneer in the field of workplace affairs.

The Ache of Affairs and What You Can Do About It

In Summary

If you happen to get a strange feeling around your spouse’s coworker, you are NOT paranoid, you are not controlling, and you are not being a jealous spouse.

Your gut feeling – which is basically the science of micro mannerisms – and micro communication – is trying to get your attention.

Your brain loves you so much, that it is trying to tell you, to take notice. Your brain has your back and it is sending you early warning signals to check something out.

Your brain is gently trying to nudge you to mobilize.

I will leave you with a thought that a friend of mine sent me last week.

This thought pertains to the wayward spouses who won’t break off the affair, and yet expect you to be their support system, and who expect you to live life, as if nothing is happening.

My friend said: The good people of the world should immediately choose to withdraw the time and energy, they give to those who continue to actively harm them.

Even if you choose to keep your wayward spouse in your life, you can refuse to give them any part of yourself, from that day forward.

If you are in a situation where your wayward spouse is violent, have a plan and a “bug out” bag.

If your spouse has turned you into the maid and the chef, and has their cake elsewhere, literally stop cooking and cleaning, for them.  They can make their own dinner and clean up their mess, literally and figuratively.

Don’t forget you have power.

A note about women, in particular. I have come across women who have been loyal to sex addicts for many years.

These wives can be driven to the brink. Give them grace because they have been living in an impossibly hard situation, for many years.

Also, I speak to people on all sides of the equation and this post is not written in the spirit of judgment.

The post was inspired by Jane’s experience and I wanted to examine it further.

I wish you many blessings along your journey. This blog is your safe space and I am honored to serve you in your recovery journey.  Feel free to share any of your experiences as they relate to work affairs – or infidelity in general. 

    8 replies to "All About Work Affairs: If You Feel a Cringe When Your Spouse’s Colleague is Around, Take Note"

    • Nearly Normal

      Hi, Sarah.

      I liked the article. Love Jane’s story.

      I have a story that is positive and shows progress in my marriage. Originally, my wife’s AP was in the same workplace. Bad vibes abounded, gaslighting followed, you know the drill. This actually happened twice.

      Now years after DDay, my wife recently started a new job. When I was there, I noticed a coworker and I got some bad vibes. After almost two decades, I felt like I was in for another dismal experience. Had I trusted my wife’s improvement in character too much?

      But before I talk to her, SHE comes to ME! She says, “I’m getting this bad vibe from this guy. He’s a little too comfortable with me and sometimes tries to meet me alone.” So she planned and went through with telling him in no uncertain terms what the boundaries were, and he’d better respect them.

      I guess that is the real goal. When there is a potentially bad situation, your spouse is upfront with you about it and takes steps to make sure it does not become something.

      Anyway, it’s been a long time so I thought I’d say hi. Hope you are doing well.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Nearly Normal,
      It’s great to hear from you! Glad you liked the article and thank you for sharing your story.

      It’s great to hear that your wife came to you and told you.

      It’s great to hear that she understood what her visit her was doing.

      And it’s great that she proactively nipped it in the bud.

      I believe that if everyone had this level of awareness – in terms of a coworkers ulterior motives – and REFUSED to reciprocate, work place affairs would vaporize.

      Nearly Normal, this is indeed good news.

      Thank you for sharing. 🙏

      Many blessings,

    • Hopeful

      That’s great! My husband after his affair started talking to a new co worked through social media. It was small talk but unnecessary and the conversation would be on and off continuous kind of. He deleted a few of them also. I asked him why he said because I would assume the worst. Or it was about having lunch together. So instead of addressing his co worker (because he relies on others at work… he’s a nurse) he just deletes his social media. And he told me he knows she wants him to ask for her number so they can then text. She has made comments to him about her not being able to get in touch with him. He doesn’t seem to understand you can keep work friends at work and rely on them but not take that home. And what happens when he gets social media back ?

    • Boston Tea

      I discovered my wife’s workplace affair a year ago. She had been seeing her boss for about 3 years. As they are based in different states it was carried out on work trips when she was away from home plus lots of phone activity.

      Suddenly the last few years made sense and I really resonate with the ‘micro messaging’ mentioned above. I knew something was wrong and stumbled across a few clues in the preceding months but had no idea that it was this bad.

      We’ve agreed to rebuild and I’ve been reading all the books (including the one referenced above together with Michelle Werner Davies who is equally amazing and forthright). Spouse not engaged on the reading but we’re attending therapy together and making some progress.

      Issue is she still works for this guy and is not prepared to find another job. She assures me the relationship is purely professional now but there is still too much friendly chat in the work exchanges and she won’t remove him from Facebook as it would alert the rest of the team. I’m weaning off hyper vigilance as it’s exhausting. Instead I’m focusing on me, rebuilding myself and preparing for whatever road we eventually go down. I realise that I can’t control what she does but can set expectations on how I will react if boundaries are crossed. They have not seen each other since discovery.

      Made it very clear that any inappropriate behaviour will lead to separation and publicising of the affair – so far no friends, family or colleagues are aware.

      Nervous about what happens when travel restrictions lift and they have potential to see each other again – will have to see how that goes and I’m prepared that it may force a decision on the job vs marriage.

      Still, in a much better place than a year ago or the few years preceding discovery. We are getting along well, intimacy is still difficult but hoping that restores as we make more progress in therapy.

      If I had to sum it up, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.

    • NewNormalcy

      I so wish I had trusted my gut instincts that I continuously neglected for a long time. When I found out about my husband’s workplace affair, it had been going on for nearly two years.

      They still work together and I was really hopeful that my husband was turning a corner as he promised me he would NEVER do that to me again. Well, I just found out recently that they have been intimate since DDay, possibly just before Christmas.

      So it’s the waiting game for me until the big D as our children are very young and is not fair that I would have to see my children less because he can’t keep it in his pants.

      I loathe him. But I love my children more.

      • Sarah P.

        New Normalcy,
        I am so sorry. And it’s terrible what destruction can happen when someone can’t keep their pants on or their skirt on. Please hire the best attorney on earth. Your children shouldn’t have to suffer just because your husband was taken in by a coworker.

        Sarah 🙏

    • Sarah P.

      PS- What I cannot understand is how a woman can break up a marriage where there are children. Sometimes people get angry at me for holding affair partners accountable, but it takes two people to have an affair.

      I cannot even get myself into the mindset of a person who is okay with hurting small children.
      In the end, the children get really hurt and it’s not okay! Children deserve a stable home and I am always shocked when one parent (the cheater) is okay with breaking up a home. I am also shocked when the affair partner disregards the fact they are ruining children’s lives.

    • NewNormalcy

      I wholeheartedly agree. I have personally tried to have a heart to heart with this other woman last year. Now I wished I didn’t bother. She and my husband are absolutely pure evil. I’ve tried to get him to reveal that they have continued the affair to me as he still continues to lie about it (i.e., he loves me, I’m the one he wants to grow old with, I’m imagining things).

      And that is the reason I’m not throwing in the towel just yet; our beautiful children. They do not know anything. It will be a long wait but I will reap the benefits of this sham of a marriage for now (unlimited time with our children) until they reach adulthood if I have to, but then I’m out. I’m out when I no longer have ANY kind of obligation to be around him or converse with him. And at that time I will hire the best attorney. You can count on that!

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