Think about it: Most of our waking hours, at least for those with full-time jobs, are spent at work. Besides putting your health at risk — which is an entirely different topic in its own right — spending all your time at the office can wreak havoc on your home life, too. In particular, the relationship between you and your significant other can suffer.
So, if you have a sinking suspicion your partner has been unfaithful with someone at work, it’s time to listen up. Here are 10 major signs your partner has a lover at the office.
1. Your partner has been working long hours
Working long hours is a classic cover up for a partner who’s having an affair. “Having a friend or a ‘cube mate’ can be a lifesaver if you are working long hours in a less-than-perfect environment,” Tammy Nelson explains on Psych Central. This companionship, however, can turn from platonic to romantic rather quickly.
While this isn’t a definite sure sign your partner is having an affair with a co-worker, it’s important you consider their current role, and past work behavior. For instance, is your partner suddenly working into the wee morning hours, after years of coming home at a certain time every single night? If there’s no logical reason, such as needing to meet a deadline or having to put in extra hours after landing a big promotion, your BS meter should be through the roof. If there are strange changes and your intuition kicks in, trust it.
2. Work gets in the way of working together as a couple
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a money tree in your backyard, chances are you and your partner work hard to support your current lifestyle. But as we mentioned earlier, there are certain circumstances you should be wary of. Let’s say your partner is working a ton, for instance; way too much for your liking.
Well, according to About Dating & Relationships, another sign of an unfaithful partner is the failure to work with you to make the relationship better. If your partner’s work life is taking precedence over that, there’s reason to give pause.
3. He or she frequently travels for business
Just because your partner travels for business doesn’t mean they’re cheating. If they’re mysteriously always out of battery or refuse to provide you with hotel contact information when they’re out of town, however, then something might be up.
Furthermore, if you’re suspicious every time your partner goes away on a business trip, you’re not alone. CNET reports a survey conducted by ON24, a webcasting and virtual events company, a whopping 66% of Americans believe people cheat on their spouses at trade shows and work conferences.
4. Your partner dresses up for work (enough to raise suspicion)
We realize we have some explaining to do with this one. After all, what kind of professional person wouldn’t want to look their best at work? But, getting too gussied up, beyond what’s normal for them, may be cause for concern. According to The Chart, dressing up for work, and caring more about presentation than whether you find them attractive may be something to pay attention to.
If suits suddenly turn into low cut tops that just aren’t typical of your partner’s personal style, you might want to do a little light prodding. Maybe your partner is just going through a bit of a reformation, or maybe they’re trying to impress someone else. Either way, it’s your call whether you want to bring it up.
5. Your significant other isn’t confiding in you as much
If you’ve noticed your partner hasn’t been as emotionally available lately, or he or she isn’t as talkative as normal, it may be because their issues are being shared with someone else, like a co-worker. In fact, Nelson explains your partner may have created a unique intimacy with another person, which means you’ve been cut out at home. This kind of action on their part can quickly result in a total loss of communication between the two of you. And of course, communication is key in any healthy relationship.
6. Co-workers are frequently mentioned, or intentionally avoided
As long as your observation skills are somewhat present, it’s likely your partner won’t be able to hide his or her reaction when the name of a certain someone comes up. For instance, if the very mention of this co-worker’s name gets a reaction — regardless of who dropped the name in the first place — it may tip you off to what you’ve suspected all along.
“Apparently it gives [your partner] an adrenaline rush to feel like he can talk about her and get away with it,” Kiri Blakeley writes on The Stir. “I’d also add avoiding talking about a certain woman — say he starts working on a project with a woman but he NEVER mentions her. That’s weird if he’s spending a lot of time with her.”
7. You sense a love-hate relationship between them
If you already have a person in mind, it’s likely you’ve been extra interested to hear any and all information your partner is willing to divulge about them. And just as we mentioned before, you’re probably picking up on some pretty serious clues.
Still skeptical this kind of in-your-face behavior could be so obvious? Just take a look at one admission of guilt featured on Whisper. This person is torn between slapping and hugging the man she had an affair with. So, if you’re willing to really hone your intuitive skills, you might try paying attention to how your partner expresses emotion about the co-worker in question.
8. Your partner has developed a strong emotional connection with a co-worker
This can seem difficult to know for sure, but if your gut is telling you so, there’s a good chance you should listen to it. Sure, it’s possible to have close relationships outside of your partner, but it’s when those relationships cross the line of platonic that it becomes an issue.
According to GoodTherapy.org, the numbers are frightening: A whopping 85% of affairs begin in the workplace. “The close interaction, travel, and unavoidable closeness may lead to strong friendships and emotional attachments outside your marriage,” the site writes. “The workplace provides opportunity and proximity to people outside your family.” It’s no wonder so many people are tempted to cheat at work.
9. Your partner’s co-workers are gossiping
You know that feeling when you walk into a room, and it’s clear everyone’s been talking about you? It’s as though they’re all in on some big secret you’re not allowed to be a part of. As news.com.au points out, people will find out, and they will talk about it. If you have a sense your partner’s co-workers are talking about you, they probably are, and maybe it’s about an affair that’s going on behind your back.
10. Your partner starts talking about finding a new place to work
Of course, career paths change, and people have goals they’re working toward. But if your partner suddenly announces he or she is dead set on leaving the company ASAP without any reasonable explanation, you should be a little suspicious. In fact, Dr. Kathy Nickerson says it’s pretty much impossible for two people to remain at the same place of work after they’ve had an affair.
Even if you never caught your partner in the act, they may be trying to end things and get back on track with you. Thus, their best exit strategy could be to move on to an entirely new position, company, or career. Will this last-ditch effort be enough to save your relationship? That’s for you to decide.
Taryn Brooke also contributed to this article