Have you become super close with a colleague?
It’s great to have close relationships with the people you work with. And when you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week together, it can be inevitable.
But sometimes the relationship may go a little too far — and you may not even realize it.
A friend of mine found herself in this situation. In her case, it didn’t damage her relationship in any way, but that isn’t always the case unfortunately.
So watch out to see if you do these 5 things together, meaning you officially have yourself a “work boyfriend” — and how to know if it’s bad for your relationship.
1) You spend every minute you can together
The first sign you’ve got a work boyfriend is if you’re constantly around each other.
This could be partially out of necessity. Maybe you’re working on the same project, or one of you is the other person’s assistant.
A friend of mine developed a relationship like this with her colleague because their desks were beside each other.
Even when they were on different conference calls, they had the feeling of being in the meeting “together”, and they bonded through this personal connection.
But the point when this goes from “close colleague” to “work boyfriend” depends on your feelings.
Ask yourself this:
- Do you really enjoy spending time with him?
- When you’re not together, do you look forward to when you’ll see him next, when you’re not together?
- If something happens, do you think about how you’ll tell him all about it?
- Do you find extra reasons to see him, even if you don’t have to?
If your answer to most questions is “yes”, it sounds like your colleague is a little more than a colleague.
2) You have private inside jokes
Let’s be real — work can be a reeeeal drag.
Even people who have fulfilling jobs they love still feel the effects of stress, negativity, misunderstandings, or boredom.
And laughter is one of the best remedies against all these things!
So no wonder that you and your male colleague often joke around with each other.
But are these jokes you share with the whole team, or would you get some raised eyebrows and head-scratching if others heard you?
In other words, are these jokes private to only the two of you, that nobody else can understand?
This sort of thing that work spouses (or boyfriends and girlfriends) share.
3) You gossip together
You need to keep positive relationships with your boss and colleagues.
But with this one male colleague, you can be totally honest about what you really feel.
Does your assistant’s voice give you goosebumps? Do you find your boss’s outfits really strange? Do you suspect that that guy across the room is dating the CEO’s daughter?
These are the sorts of things you can only feel comfortable talking about with someone super close — like a work boyfriend.
I happened to hear my friend do this when I grabbed lunch with her and her work colleague. When I pointed out how close they sounded based on their conversation, she was taken aback.
It was like second nature to her, so she didn’t even realize. But consider if you would talk like that with another colleague at your work.
If not, it’s a telling sign you’ve got a work beau.
4) You always help each other out
What are colleagues for, if not to give a helping hand? This is common, and you might do it for many of your colleagues.
But when it comes to a work boyfriend, the assistance seems to go above and beyond.
The two of you are always there for each other, providing support, advice, and assistance whenever needed.
It’s not just about tasks you’re supposed to share; you may also find yourselves helping each other with personal tasks or taking care of each other’s workload.
For example, my friend’s work boyfriend would often cover for her when she had to leave early for personal reasons, and she would do the same for him. They became each other’s go-to person.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with having someone in your corner, and being there for them in return.
The complications come when feelings get entangled in the mix too.
5) You share personal stories and emotions
Have you noticed how people tend to put a mask on at work?
I noticed this particularly clearly in a guy friend of mine. When he’s working, he comes across as super confident and self-assured.
But in real life, he’s much more shy and reserved.
Your colleagues may never even know your real personality. Nobody, except your work boyfriend, of course.
He’s the one person who you can relax and be your authentic self around.
Usually this happens when there’s nobody else around, or at least within earshot. You start to open up to each other, share personal stories, experiences, and emotions.
You might get into deeper topics such as sharing your ambitions, dreams, and fears, knowing that you’ll get understanding and empathy from them.
You know… the sort of stuff you would normally share with a close friend or your boyfriend.
Is having a “work boyfriend” bad?
If you do the 5 things above together, you now know that you have a work boyfriend.
So the next question is, what should you do about it?
Well, first of all, having a work boyfriend is not necessarily a bad thing. Hey, if you’re single, maybe this is a sign that there’s something more there that could be explored!
But even if not, having a work boyfriend can be totally fine as long as everyone is on the same page and you respect each other’s boundaries.
You really have to ask yourself about your feelings, and his too.
If you have a real-life boyfriend, how do you think he would feel about your relationship with your colleague? Does it cross the line in any way?
How do you feel about your work boyfriend having a girlfriend outside of work — and how does he feel about you having a boyfriend if you’re in a relationship?
Do you have special expectations of your work boyfriend with regards to loyalty, exclusivity, or other similar things? Are these mutual, and do they have the same expectations?
Give careful thought to these questions, and it will become pretty clear to you what you should do about having a work boyfriend.