The Work Husband Problem

by Be Heard on October 11, 2012

in Sex & Relationships

My girlfriends were chatting over drinks one evening, and one of them made a reference to her “work husband”.

Work husband? What’s that?

You know, it’s my best friend at work, who happens to be a guy, that I can go to about anything and just vent. My husband never understands anything I’m telling him about work, and he always seems bored with my work stories. So I tell all of those stories to my work husband.

Are you having an affair with this man?

No. We’re just close friends.

Huh. I think I have a work husband, too.

And I did.

Fred and I had been working together for eight years. His office was next to mine, so naturally we became very close. He’d laugh at me as I made fun of our boss, he understood my pain with our latest Administrative Assistant, and he agreed with me that the architects needed to lighten up a little bit.

Fred is funny and everyone gravitates to him. But he, for some reason, gravitated to me. I was always thankful for that. I didn’t have many friends at work, and Fred filled that void for me.

Let’s just get this out of the way: Fred is married and so am I. Neither of us ever really spoke much about our spouses. I assume his marriage is a happy one, but I wouldn’t really know. It sounds weird to me, too. I was very close with this man, yet I didn’t know a whole lot about his personal life, outside of these office walls.

I think there has always been an unspoken attraction between the two of us. I think this attraction is what kept us from speaking about our marriages.

After twelve years of marriage, my marriage began to crumble. Suddenly I found my home life interfering with my work life, and there were days that I would just sit at my desk, shut my office door, and cry. Still, I never spoke to Fred about it, but I think he sensed something was suddenly wrong with me. Spending 40 hours a week with someone lends itself to intuition.

After work one evening, the entire staff went out for drinks. One by one, people went home. I didn’t want to go home, not with everything going on with my husband and I. Fred seemed to be on a mission to make me laugh that night, and I welcomed this distraction. While Fred isn’t necessarily the most handsome man in the room, he is always the most fun. Always.

You can guess what happens next.

He walked me to my car, and we kissed. Twice.

The kiss was amazing. I haven’t really been kissed by anyone in years. Sex at my house had turned into something we both felt obligated to do, and romance was so unfamiliar to me that I would not have recognized it if it hit me over the head. It had become pull-your-panties-to-the-side-while-I-get-off sex.

This kiss? I needed this kiss. I needed it like a starving person needs an ear of corn.

I went home, and then it hit me. What had I done?

Holy crap! I had kissed Fred!

The next morning at work, I pulled Fred into my office and whispered, “You cannot tell anyone what happened last night. If anyone finds out, we would be fired, our families in ruins, it’ll be bad. Just bad. This is your cross to bear. My cross to bear. We will never do that again. I cannot trust myself alone with you, so let’s never be alone together again. I hope we can still remain friends.”

And Fred said, “Let’s face it. That kiss was eight years in the making. But I understand what you’re saying. Don’t worry. It was no big deal.”

No big deal? Wow. That hurt. It was a big deal to me, especially now, the next morning.

I was a mix of emotions. I wanted him again. I wanted to freak out and quit. I just didn’t know what to do or how to act now that we had crossed this line from friends to physical attraction.

Days went by and we were back into the old swing of things, except the old swing of things now included text messages and phones calls at night, me telling him I couldn’t do this and then begging him to see me, awkward gazes, and sometimes flat-out ignoring each other. And the swing of things was, oddly enough, making plans to go out for drinks.

I could see where this was going. Again.

I did nothing to stop it. We met for drinks with coworkers, but this time, Fred was all over another woman. It was very un-Fred-like. I didn’t know if this was a game to make me want him more, if he was wasted, or if he was sending me a message that said, “I don’t want you like you want me.”

I wanted to leave. But I didn’t want to leave. I stayed around. I just had to know. What was Fred doing? Why do I even care what Fred’s doing? I was very confused.

That’s when it all hit me. Fred may just be a womanizer. He uses his charms to attract women, like the one at the bar. Except everyone thinks Fred is a nice guy, and no one suspects it. I didn’t even suspect it, and I was his best friend at work. The night of the kiss, he sure seemed into it, and now he didn’t even want to talk about it.

We still work closely together, but we will never really be friends again, even though I fake it. I still smile and pretend to pay attention when he’s talking to me about Excel spreadsheets. I see him around laughing and carrying on, and it makes me hate him even more. It makes me scream, “Drop dead, Fred! DROP DEAD, FRED!” Which I just scream in my brain, because screaming it out loud would make look crazy.

I thought our friendship was special to him, but in the words of Fred, “It was no big deal.”

I can see that now. That kiss really wasn’t a big deal for him. Fred probably does this sort of thing all the time. The kiss has me completely strung out, but not Fred, Fred is cool as a cucumber about the whole thing.

My husband and I are working through our problems. I hope he can find time for me and pay attention to me again. I really do.

However, heed my warning ladies: Don’t hook up with your work husbands! It’ll never be the same again. You’ll never be able to be friends again. Someone will be extremely hurt and frustrated (probably you), and we are too damn old to be playing these sorts of mind games. Plus, it’s work, and indiscretions like these make it very difficult to focus on what you’re there to do… work.

Well, unless you’re Fred. Fred could give two shits. That’s obvious.

Do you have a work spouse? Have you ever been tempted to cross the line?

This Curvy Girl Guide Contributor wishes to remain anonymous.

Adria October 11, 2012 at 9:51 am

I’ve had numerous “work spouses” (speece? spice?) over the years, most of whom I never hooked up with. A couple I did, one I always wanted to but he didn’t feel the same. Funnily enough, I ended up marrying one of them for real! We are divorced now but still the best of friends and have a child together. I’ve managed to keep it not-awkward with all former work-spouses but I’m thinking that’s not the norm.

Tawny October 11, 2012 at 10:54 am

I never had what I would call a work husband, but I definitely made the mistake of dating a coworker. I ended up switching locations because he made it such an awkward environment. He still dates coworkers and it still never works out for him.

Kristin October 11, 2012 at 11:21 am

I’m lucky because I have a work wife, and I’m straight, so there is not a possibility of this happening. However, I still get all the benefits of a work spouse. Best situation I could’ve asked for.

Ashley October 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I went out a couple times with a co-worker. We ended up sneaking around to make out everyonce in a while ( I know, stupid) but it never went any further with us. Oddly enough it brought us closer together. We are better friends now than we were before and we both know its definitly just friends, nothing more. That being said, I would never date someone at work again.

Melissa October 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I had a “work husband” for years at one of my previous jobs. When you work closely with people I don’t think it’s unusual to develop that kind of relationship. We were both married at the time and the thought of hooking up with him never crossed my mind. We were, and still are, just good friends. I was not aware of it until much later, but it turns out that there was a rumor that we were having an affair. I don’t think people generally believe that men and women can JUST be friends, but sometimes that is the case. It’s nice to have someone to confide in that understands, exactly, the situation you are in.

Anon October 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

After nine years of flirting, I began “dating” my work husband last year. My husband found out, told work husband’s wife. It’s a mess. We love each other, but love our spouses too. And of course love our kids. It’s hard to see a good end. Both of our marriages have big issues but neither of us can seem to take the first step towards leaving them. I can’t imagine being able to maintain our professional relationships if we both left our spouses and stayed together anyway. In the end I am now expecting my husband to finally leave me and my work husband to stay with his wife. It sure made me happy for a while though.

Also Anonymous October 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

I had a work husband for several years; I’m not sure if he considered me his work wife, since he was super friendly with everyone. While I like everyone that I work with, he was the only person that I really clicked with and whom I trusted enough to confide in. When we met, he had a girlfriend and I was married, so it was strictly platonic.

But over time, I developed a crush on him. I was having problems in my marriage at the time, and the fact that he would tell me that I looked nice or would flirt a little with me helped me get through some really rough days. After he broke up with his girlfriend, the flirting intensified, but nothing ever happened between us. He’s the kind of guy who would NEVER make a move on a married/attached woman. I don’t know if my crush was unrequited, but that doesn’t really matter; I wouldn’t cheat on my husband, no matter how unhappy I might have been in my marriage.

Sadly, he quit his job last May, and has since moved out-of-state.We chat on Facebook occasionally – usually so I can vent about work – but it’s not the same. I really miss him.

Also Anonymous October 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

So, I was trying to post anonymously, and then my picture shows up. Grrr.

Anon October 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

No judgement or offense to anyone…but I don’t like the tone of this article or the responses to it. Umm…isn’t this also called cheating and frowned upon? It’s almost as if the author is justifying having an affair because of unhappiness in a marriage. Work friends are one thing – adultry is another. The line isn’t so fine between the two that it becomes blurry.

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