I’ve been hearing a lot about work spouses lately. It’s not new and of course I’ve heard it before, it’s just that I’ve heard several references to work spousery in the past few weeks, and every time that happens, I do this:
If someone is your “work spouse,” they’re basically an at-work version of your real life (or future real life) husband or wife. The relationship should be platonic in nature but almost always includes some degree of sexual tension. A person usually works closely with their work spouse and feels comfortable talking to them about non-work issues, but doesn’t often spend time with them outside of work. The time that, presumably, is spent with an actual spouse.
I’m really annoyed by work spousery, and not just because I don’t believe in spouses in general. I’m also not going to get all gender studies on the topic by arguing that no woman should feel the need to have to have a spouse at all times because that’s basically like extremist religious law where you need a male escort to go out in public. What annoys me about the idea of someone having a work spouse is that, no matter how platonic the work spouse relationship is from a technical standpoint, there’s a certain kind of infidelity at play. It’s not real infidelity because anyone who calls this cheating is out of their fucking minds, but I still think it’s true that the moment you refer to another person as your spouse, you’ve acknowledged a relationship that might not be totally acceptable to the person who shares a life with you.
I should clarify that not all of the people making references to their work spouses are doing it because they’re cheating, or are unhappy with their regular spouses, or anything that could possibly offend the people I genuinely like despite their references to work spousery.
I should also clarify that impure thoughts should not always be correlated with impure action. I was raised Catholic so I understand the concept, but I was also once married to someone who alleged that my thinking another man was attractive – even a famous man who I would never meet – was the exact same thing as sleeping with someone else. Again, work spousery amounting to cheating is fucking insane. Just so you know.
I should also also clarify that having to clarify things like these are a pain in the ass, but that I have to do it because experience has taught me that no matter what I say about anything, someone I know is going to think it involves them or someone else they know, and that their reactions to what I write, while hilarious from an objective standpoint, are almost always incorrect, rude, and blown way the fuck out of proportion. Are we clear on this? Not everyone with a work spouse is terrible. Yeah? Okay then.
What I am saying is that from a personal standpoint, I would feel hugely hurt and offended if Graham made mention to having a work spouse. It’s enough for me to know about some of the women who work with him and their apparent unawareness of the boundaries that come along with him having a girlfriend (I also know that half of this burden lies with him, but I can’t be everywhere at once and I don’t believe in phone hacking). It’s not that I don’t want him to speak to other women. One, that’s crazy. Two, that’s fucking crazy. Three, a man who doesn’t speak to women because he either doesn’t know how or has been forbidden to by his crazy-ass girlfriend is just a sad sack of crap. But I do want to know that some things are important and must be respected, and that chief among those things is our relationship. This is why I don’t have a work spouse. I think that Graham would be equally offended if I did, and for the same reasons.
I don’t need a work spouse, anyway. I have work friends. Because I am not a nun or a Mormon, some of those friends are male. I suppose it helps that these males are all either married, in relationships, or otherwise not my sexual cup of tea, but ultimately, the thing that keeps them my friends instead of my spouses is how I treat my relationship.
Also we tend to talk about stuff like dolphins and Clydesdales fighting underwater, how many times a mutually-disliked co-worker has gotten his ass kicked, space aliens, Torchwood, Val Kilmer, puppies, paraplegic bar owners, and when we’re finally going to have the motherfucking kumite, and I don’t know any spouses who talk like that.