Outsourcing The Office Spouse


It seems like America is outsourcing everything to India, these days, including our notion of appropriate boundaries in the corporate workforce.

Take, for example, this article about the phenomenon of ‘office spouses’ in India.

Some background for those of you who haven’t heard this term before: an office spouse is defined as a close, platonic, opposite-sex friendship at work. (The HR professional inside of me doesn’t feel that the definition is inclusive enough. What about same-gender relationships or people who consider sexuality and gender to be a spectrum?)

Whatevs, dudes. I’m sure you get the drift.

Office spouses are fairly prevalent in the United States and achieved notoriety, a few years ago, when it was reported that having a spouse at the office — i.e., someone who is supportive at work — could make you more successful.

I say that the office-spouse-syndrome in India (& the United States) is much ado about nothing. A close, platonic, opposite-sex friendship at work can be better than having a spouse as long as the lines of emotional infidelity aren’t crossed. What constitutes emotional infidelity?

  • Sharing your hopes & dreams with your office spouse and not sharing those same feelings with your partner.
  • Speaking to your office spouse about confidential or private issues in your marriage/relationship — with no intention of ever discussing those issues with your significant other.
  • Using your office spouse friendship as a means to otherwise zone-out on your primary marriage/relationship.

Did I miss anything?

I am an advocate for common sense in the workforce. I think it’s okay to share a mutual love of Top Chef, American Idol, or Gossip Girl with your colleagues. You can be in a monogamous relationship but have a close, platonic friendship with another person. It’s allowed, yo.

The problem starts when you forget that your job is just a job. This is true whether you work in America or India. A 9-5 relationship at the office is a transitory experience — especially when compared to the lifetime commitment of marriage.

Take it from me, suckers. Find a friend at work — regardless of gender — and try to survive the day with some level of sanity. Cash the paycheck on Friday, ask for $50 worth of singles, and then go home and roll around in your money before you spend it on a tank of gas.

Focus on the things that matter most in life and you won’t have to worry about stupid stuff like the relationship between ‘office spouses’.

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