Written by: David Helfand, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
When someone is tempted to have an extramarital affair, chances are, it’ll be with a coworker. Workplace affairs are common because there is opportunity and connection already built into that relationship. Think about it– for anyone working full-time in an office or institutional setting, more time is spent with colleagues than spouses. And if you add in business trips, happy hours, and long working hours, it’s not surprising that some coworkers become drawn to each other. Naturally, close connections form over time, and this closeness can lead to crossing the line into something more intimate, especially if there’s a degree of dissatisfaction with your marriage. Let’s take a closer look at what factors can make an extramarital affair with a coworker so tempting and 3 effective ways to avoid infidelity.
An extramarital affair with a coworker is typically the result of situational and emotional factors. Opportunity and a strong connection are a powerful combination that can lead a spouse to stray. Whether the extramarital affair is emotional or sexual in nature, it usually functions as an outlet for needs that are not being met within the committed relationship. Although spontaneous workplace affairs do happen, more often than not, a workplace affair develops over time out of weakening bonds within the marriage.
“My husband was spending all his time on his startup and I was lonely without his attention and affection. I wasn’t looking to have an affair, but finding someone who found me interesting and attractive made me feel desired again.” – Rachel C.
Situational factors which can lead to an affair with a colleague are things like business travel, conferences, happy hours, and other social opportunities in and outside the office. Simply put, there is an opportunity for coworkers to engage on a more intimate level. A dynamic workplace leads to spontaneity which feels good, especially if home life has become too routine and predictable. With more and more people working from home, spouses increasingly need space and time away from each other. The office can feel like an escape from the responsibilities of family, so when circumstances present themselves, it’s all the more tempting to pursue a relationship that seems fun and slightly risky.
“Family life became a drag – nothing but carpools, appointments and bills. It was as if nothing existed beyond responsibilities and schedules. I started looking forward to spending time with my business partner. It was refreshing to have interesting things to talk about, and meetings slowly spilled over into dinners and drinks.” – Louis M.
Coworkers can become emotionally entangled by virtue of workplace comradery, shared experiences, and being part of a team. Shared goals create a sense of intimacy and shared purpose, which builds strong emotional bonds and connections. A coworker can take on the role of a friend and confidant, especially if things at home aren’t going so well. This, in turn, can deepen a shared emotional connection.
3 ways to avoid affair with coworker
1. Identify emotional needs that are unmet within your marriage
Most people focus on specific behaviors of their partner rather than looking at underlying emotional needs. Do you need to feel more desired? Do you crave more spontaneity? Do you need to feel appreciated instead of taken for granted? Be explicit with your partner about changes you want to make in your relationship, and invest the time and effort into repairing the marriage.
2. Consider the future consequences of starting a coworker affair
Stop and think through how this will affect you and your spouse, family, and even your job. Will, the affair be nothing more than a harmless distraction, or could it lead to some serious consequences? A secret fling can feel exciting at the moment but can cause a lot of harm in the long term.
3. If you’re truly tempted to have a workplace affair, consider using fantasy and role-play
This is a safe way to explore while still staying within the marriage. Could you spice up your relationship by getting a hotel room for the night and picking each other up at the bar? What about exchanging some sultry sexts? Try to reimagine your relationship by playing out fantasies or characters. A little money spent on wardrobe and props could save your marriage.
Remember, a workplace affair is an outlet for unmet needs within the marriage. Embarking on an intimate relationship with a coworker is fairly easy– there’s already familiarity and an opportunity to spend time together. But when your marriage is at stake, it is best to consider your intentions and explore how you can reinvigorate it.
David Helfand, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Helfand is a licensed psychologist specializing in marriage counseling and intensive couples therapy retreats. He uses his training in clinical psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness to help couples achieve a happy and fulfilling marriage or to help them assess compatibility.