If you think about where you spend the most time, it’s pretty easy to figure out that a large portion of your life is spent at your place of business, which is a huge reason why 85% of affairs begin in the workplace, says Lori Hollander LCSW-C, BCD a relationships & marriage expert in a Good Therapy article. Consider the time spent with co-workers during a 40 plus hour workweek: all the shared projects, successes, stresses, emotional ups and downs, and any other difficulties at work. All of these close interactions and relations allow you to get to know another individual you work with, which can not only lead to strong friendships, but emotional attachments, as Hollander says, outside of a committed relationship. Spouses, and/or partners often spend more time with co-workers than with each other. This could spell a recipe for disaster without the proper amount of trust between you and your partner.
The workplace provides proximity, and attraction may only be inevitable — it’s just a matter of whether it remains strictly a friendship or it’s taken to the next level and becomes an emotional/sexual affair. If those feeling are acted upon, all parties involved, especially the partner that is being lied to, is bound to feel hurt, betrayed, disillusioned, and seek a dissolution of the relationship.
Relationship expert Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking explains how exactly an office romance starts in Cosmopolitan:
Affairs at work happen more often because the coworker seems to understand you better — and actually does a lot of time… Once you open up to the coworker about office-related issues, the lines of your relationship become blurred. [They]’ll make you feel better, too, because [they]’ll listen attentively without all the home distractions — after all, he[or she] has nothing better to do for the next eight hours and needs a work diversion sometimes. As you both start to share other life stresses—about your relationship, your arguments, and so on — then before you know it, boom, it’s an emotional affair. Lots of times you don’t even know how it happened.
This sadly, is how it usually plays out. If you’re suspecting that your partner may be cheating on you with someone at work, here are 4 major signs to look for.
1. Your partner has been working later hours
Working later hours is a classic cover up for a partner who’s having an affair. It’s important to note that this is not a sure sign that your partner is having an affair with a co-worker; you know your partner and their work habits better than anyone. The biggest telltale sign that something is going on with someone at work is that after years of them coming home at a certain hour, they now work late for no discernible reason — it’s perfectly normal to be suspicious of this behavior. Do consider though if your partner has a new job or has just been promoted — it’s important that you take those factors into consideration. Work-related excuses are a clever way to account for blocks of time that are spent doing some not-so-nice things with a co-worker. Just remember: If there are strange changes and your intuition kicks in, trust it.
2. He or she frequently travels for business
Just because your partner travels for business does not mean that your partner is cheating; it’s only if he or she loses touch with you when they’re away or are not accountable for where they are when you speak to them, then something might be up. The Huffington Post cites a survey reported on CNET, that 66% of Americans believe that people cheat on their spouses at trade shows and work conferences. To give further credence to these beliefs, a study from the University of Washington suggested that among spouses that actually did cheat, 62% of men and 46% of women cheated with someone they met through work.
When your partner is away, they may have more free time after business hours or feel that they’re on vacation, and don’t feel as accountable for their actions. This may give them time to explore a potential affair or act on their feelings if they’ve traveled with this co-worker.
3. Your signicant other isn’t confiding in you as much
If you’ve been noticing that your partner is less emotionally open lately or not as talkative as usual, it may be because he or she is sharing their issues with someone else, like a co-worker. Dr. Tammy Nelson, PhD and couples therapist, writes in YourTango that your partner may have created a unique intimacy with another person, and has cut you out at home, “essentially creating a bond with [their] new friend to the exclusion [of you].”
4. Noticeable change in attitude when co-workers are mentioned
Depending upon your intuition and how good you are at personally noticing things, if you enter into a conversation with your partner and the name of the person whom they’re having an affair with comes up in conversation, your partner may have a small but noticeable reaction to it. It may give them an adrenaline rush to hear the person’s name. On the other hand, your significant other may avoid talking about the other person. For instance, if they’re working together on a work project but your partner doesn’t mention his or her name, it’s a potential red flag, especially if your partner is spending a lot of time with this person.