Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why can't we be friends? The case for (against) work wives/husbands...


There is a brother at the new consulting gig who started the same day I did. He kinda rolled up round lunch time on the first day and introduced himself. A bunch of us went out to eat and he offered to drive. He held open the passenger and said, "Michele?" Oh. I guess I got shotgun. During the course of the meal, he mentioned a wife and I mentioned a significant other. Nuff said (as far as I was concerned). We also found out that we know a half dozen of the same people and worked at the same companies (at different times) in the last twelve years. Long story short, we had a similar professional background.

So for the past three days, we took to sitting next to each other and sharing the "are we there yet?" look with one and other. This afternoon, one of the girls said "So are you two a couple now?" 

**crickets** with a large dose of #HOP (Hold On Playa) two side-eyes and a WDDDA? No. Ma'am. We both, at the same time said, "No!" 

One woman said, "Yeah, that's how it starts. I've got my eye on you two."

Really, I didn't feel the need to discuss it any further. They don't know what I've got at home. They don't know what he's got at home. I only met this man 72 hours ago and beyond comparing work notes and an affinity for turkey and avocado on multigrain... that's all I knew. But the room at large felt the need to launch into a discussion of "work wives" and "work husbands" and that's how office romances start. I rolled my eyes and stepped outside to tweet.

Later when I was talking to New Ninja about it he nodded and then said, "Sure men and women can be work friends but believe me, he's already tucked you away in a 'might make a play for later' file."

Me, "What? No. It wasn't even like that."

Him, "It wasn't like that to you. Did he ask for your cell number as a 'professional contact'?"

Me, "Well, yeah. He called tonight to say he's assigned to different office."

Him, "Umm-hmm. You're in the 'come back around' file."

Me, "So you're saying they are no professional contacts. It's either a love thing or a 'maybe later' thing?"

Him, "No. There are professional contacts. Those consist of people you are not now nor never will be interested in romantically. And then there are professional contacts that you wouldn't mind sliding over to the personal side of the scale. Even if you never act on it."

Me, "I don't agree."

Him, "Ask BougieLand."

Fine (muttering under breath about folks trying to use my blog to prove their l'il point). BougieLand... do tell. Do you have a work husband or wife? What's the dynamic with "work spouses", are they people you would be with if you had the opportunity? Does it really all come down to the age old "Can men and women ever really be 'just friends'" question? Do share your thoughts, insights, comments...

63 comments:

Sarah said...

You two are adorable :-)


I think this is another one of those situation that men and women see differently. It is the professional version of women saying they can have men just as friends and men saying men and women are never really just friends. I think YOU (or anybody) decide how it goes. Whether he is considering you a 'maybe later' thing or not doesn't matter. Unless, of course, he is the stalker sort, but hopefully that isn't the case.

Cynthia-Nycole said...

Its only been a couple of days, give it a month or two and then you will see if you are professional contact or if his intentions are to put you in the "play for later file". I would be more concerned about the people who want to insinuate that something is going on, seeing as though you do have a lot in common with this guy and he is married.

sugahoneyicedtea said...

I agree with Sarah. I also think New Ninja is right. You weren't thinking about him like that, but he surely was thinking of you in that way..Now you definitely have to be on your P's and Q's because I believe if he sees an opening, he will take full advantage...

Does this make sense?

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

Jealousy.

Its what's for dinner.


The notion of Work Spouses is as old as men and women in the work place.


When you have a work spouse it's never about Looks and sexual attraction, even if the two people are attractive.

It is about shared experience and shared values. us against them.

There is no such thing as work spouse at first sight. Only time would tell.

Jubilance said...

I don't understand the point of a work husband/wife, but maybe that's just me.

I'm also wondering why the people in your training class were making such a big deal out of your interaction. Nosy folks will blow the littlest thing out of proportion & thats how rumors get started.

I'm with New Ninja on this one tho - I wouldn't put it pass the work guy to put you in the "keep in touch just in case our situations change" file.

Michele said...

I agree with New Ninja. Only because I've been there. We (women) think everything is all innocent and businesslike and the next thing you know ...

blackprofessor said...

I agree with New Ninja but I think these situations occur when someone is not happy at home. I worked with a man whom I had great chemistry, we became great friends but there was never any hint of possible romance. He introduced me to his wife and all of us are still good friends to this day.

Yet, in other situations, I clicked with men, we had chemistry but I could “feel” that romantic vibe. Usually, it would come out later that there were some issues in the marriage and/or the couple was divorcing. In short, the man wasn’t content or happy with his marriage, which explained the “extra” vibe in the subtext.

rozb said...

Being in the military, I inevitably run into these situations. I have had the successful work husband situation where everyone has much respect for the real relationships. In other words, the wife knows who I am, what my position at the workplace is, and can come to me at any time. And I have had the psycho wife and her girlfriends show up at my door late one night dressed like chubby, squishy ninjas in all black, set on beating me down because her husband made one too many phone calls after 8 pm to me about the damn job! (That is a story for another time!) There are rules everyone needs to follow:


1. You should make sure the spouse knows who you work with - don't just spring a "Oh yeah - I forgot to tell you I work with Roz all day" at the company Christmas party or summer BBQ, and she never knew you even worked with women. Also do not to talk about marital issues of an intimate nature with the work spouse. Some things are always private and need no discussion with me - I am not a therapist, nor do I play one on TV. Transparency about who you work with, identify work/home boundaries, and
respect the sanctity of your marriage and its private issues.


2. My role is to make sure I respect the boundaries. Unless it is an emergency, no calling the home after work, unless it is project or job-related, and even then, make sure the spouse knows it is you calling. Always talk to the husband/wife first, before talking to your co-worker, to let them know they are respected. Keep those work convos short and professional, and make sure there is no reason to ever call you unless absolutely necessary. And NEVER make a spouse feel out of place by always telling inside jokes around him/her, and making them feel like an outsider.


3. If you bring in food, or anything to share, make sure the offer is open to others as well. Nothing starts office water cooler rumors faster than some jerk saying "Why you only bring him/her some cake? What - y'all got something going on?"
These rumors may get out and end up in your spouse's lap, landing you in hot water.
And keep those office doors open, folks.


However, if after all of this, somebody starts stalking you wearing hospital scrub bottoms, a t-shirt, and footies with the little ball on the heel because they are just set on the idea of somebody (YOU) wanting their spouse, then I suggest you make a quick trip to HR, change departments, and keep work contact to a minimum. That person has issues of their own BIG time.

Natasha Hunter said...

Rollin' with Lenny (I don't want to call him Ninja no' mo... seems mean now, lol.)

Perhaps it's my overactive imagination but the whole "car door open/Michele?" thing sounds like some scoping is going on...

Them cacklin' hens need to stop with the insinuations. Just plain messy and I don't like that kind of shiggity.

Like Roz, being in the military we are with each other more than our real families so we always have work families. As long as both parties keep it out in the open, it's cool. But, I've witnessed one situation where there was a guy I was working out with and he got a work wife and then all the sudden she started coming to the gym, dictating the workouts, if I was a few minutes late they would leave me... LOL rode to the luncheons together and she would demand to sit next to him. I think that's a bit much...

Natasha Hunter said...

"Chubby, Squishy Ninjas" *weak*... Not Chris Farley (RIP) style?!?

CaliGirlED said...

"...dressed like chubby, squishy ninjas in all black..."...You just can't tell a story straight with no sarcastic under tones can you? NOPE, and that's why BougieLand loves your comments!!! LOL


Love those 3 rules, and let me add that they also apply to having friends of the opposite sex who have significant others. It all boils down to respect and boundaries.

Kitadiva said...

These situations can be messy when other people have issues going on in their relationships or if one of the folks catches feelings because the other person has the behavior and attitude that they wish their SO had. Been there, cut off the frienship - business friendliness only - and moved on.

To cut out any potential messiness, invite your guy for lunch or the next event and make sure that if the dude is there that they are introduced. Make it a brief pleasant, laughter filled intro making it clear that you are happy in the relationship - and the next day come in to work being your usual friendly self. Nonsense stopped. Friendship continues with clear boundaries established without a hitch hopefully.

CaliGirlED said...

Come on Chele, you have to know that New Ninja's thoughts are on point. It may not be the case with this guy, but that would be a rarity. We as women don't see things like that, but men generally think beyond friendship first, and settle into accepting "being just friends" later. But perhaps this guy is genuinely trying to gain a professional contact. But I do give side-eye to "Well, yeah. He called tonight to say he's assigned to a different office." My thoughts, that call could have waited until the next day; there was no need to call you at night. Keep your antennas up. IJS


As for the others and their comments about the chemistry, just ignore them. I'm not saying that they are not correct because there may be chemistry, but that they don't know either of you and whether or not you're willing to risk what you have at home. So they should keep their mouths shut! Chemistry does not always have to be acted upon just because it exists....I experienced this once in the workplace. Everybody SWORE me and this guy were messing around, and we were not. However we both recognized the chemistry and were attracted to each other. But we were not willing to "go there" because we worked together.

SingLikeSassy said...

I have a work husband. He's an older white guy and we joke all of the time -- some of it IS a little borderline extra, I'll admit -- and I'm bringing my mom to meet him next week (he introduced me to his mom when she came to town). But no way, no HOW is any sliding or anything else going on with us. *shudders*


That said, I've been watching what I *think* is a work husband/wife relationship with a single lady and a married (but possibly separated guy) and I think it's about to cross some boundaries as these two people have a lot of chemistry.

Jami Stephens said...

I have a work spouse but there is no way on God's green earth that I would ever jeopardize my marriage and become romantically involved with him. We can joke, have lunch together, share our frustration/joy over our boss/kids, but it all stays in the cubicle realm. Although the subject has never come up I am quite certain that he knows there is no chance that our relationship will ever go further.

MichelleG said...

I have to agree with Ninja on this one. We women don't think this way however too many men believe if they just hang in there they can get with anyone & all these thirsty can't handle their liquor women aren't helping the stats. If you're a professional contact & don't want to friend me on LinkedIn but keep requesting me on FB that usually results in you being banned from both. Don't get me wrong I do have strictly male friends (from HS/college) that I had to work overtime to assure the gf (now wife) that I was not the enemy but her ally. People swear something was going on but never did and never will.

Its one thing if in the course of work you end up needing my information to reach me after hours but 3 days in? You're lucky if you get my work email LOL.

tishatweets said...

Yeah, so.....I hear people say this all the time. I don't partake. Have I worked with people with whom there's been a spark? Sure. I mean....we see these people 5 days a week for 9-10 hours a day. There are some things, though, I don't play with--and this is one of them. You might be a work acquaintance. You might turn into a friend that I met through work. You could even turn into my sweetie, but it won't be because we "played" boyfriend/girlfriend husband/ wife at work first. For me, it's a tad bit disrespectful to what y'all might have goin' on at home. I mean I know I wouldn't be sitting up ha ha kee-keein' if someone I was in a relationship with came home talking about "my work wife said...." Uh? Some huh? No. Let’s….not.

Since I don't really cotton to this dynamic I can't say whether people who do are doing this because they really CAN'T have that person, would like to be with that person if the opportunity presented itself, or if it really is just fun and games. For me, if I like you like that, at some point, you'll know. And I won't be playin'. :)

rozb said...

Exactly. All four of them squeezed into black jeans, turtle necks, and black sneakers. She expected to catch him creeping with me, but turns out he was elsewhere (and definitely didn't tell me at work!) Yes - we had a work divorce, and his workspace was moved.

rozb said...

I completely agree. That is why I have successful platonic male relationships. It's principalities. Dang - Big Worm had a saying that applied to a lot of stuff, huh?

GrownAzzMan said...

"
However, if after all of this, somebody starts stalking you wearing hospital scrub bottoms, a t-shirt, and footies with the little ball on the heel because they are just set on the idea of somebody (YOU) wanting their spouse..."

D.O.A.

maureen palmer said...

New Ninja has a point there, "come back around file". This just happened to my office mate. No bueno.

superwoman said...

honestly i think women go into these interactions believing that it's just a friendship.... and generally, the guys are fine with that - but also tuck you into that 'maybe something could happen' category. i've had friendships that ran for YEARS, then *boom* a declaration of love like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky - except it's not-it's been bubbling under forever.... inevitably, there's that "i've felt this way about you for years" statement, much to my pop-eyed shock... so between you and NN (who i ADORE for that 'ask bougieland" comeback) neither of you is actually wrong - you're just speaking from your own perspectives...

sol_dier said...

I agree with new Ninja.

I don't do play relationships especially not at work. We can be close colleagues, maybe friends at a later date.

The girl who approached you was a little uncouth, she could have simply shut up & observed.

thinklikeRiley said...

Bruhs wanna hit. If not today, maybe tomorrow.
If dat mean I gotta be ya lil work friend, yea a-ight.
Don't slip.

Grace said...

Woman here in the office just got papers served because of her work friendship that went too far.

New New is right.

Javalicious said...

Men and women can only be "just friends" if neither wants to take it there. If one side even thinks about it - it's a wrap.

William Martin said...

You don't think that way so you don't get it. But a lot of men do. All they need is a foot on the field and they wait their turn to take it to the house. Dude coming at you with the lunch and door opening and phone numbers... that's classic hang around theory .

Man's World said...

First of all you already know folks will manufacture so drama just to pass the time. But you also know that sometimes, folks have agendas. Just because you mentioned you have a man, doesn't stop another one from getting in line. Make sure you stay extra professional with dude.

FreeBlackMan said...

No Ms. Bougie. You may not act brand new on this one.

Everybody has a "save for later" list that they check on from time to time.

You can safely assume you are on his. My question is - is he on yours?

JaymeC said...

Your work situation is new and temporary and your man is not about to let you get away so that's that

But I will say that a good number of counseling sessions I do with couples involve an outside person one of them met in the workplace.

Joy Andrews said...

As I suspected...

Rob said...

Had a chick at work telling everybody she was my work wife. Uh... no. No part of a wife, not under any circumstances. I had to pull her to the side and get it straight. Some people don't respect boundaries.

baileyqc said...

There was a guy at work that I always used to have lunch with and we would chat and laugh but he wasn't my type and I wasn't his. We would just hang out and bitch about how shitty our jobs were. we didn't talk about personal stuff, we didn't flirt, none of that.

Trey Charles said...

Playtime is for after hours. Someone crosses the line on work time, gotta call a halt.

Sure men and women can just be friends, doesn't mean one of them isn't hoping for more.

OneChele said...

Excellent point, Sarah.

OneChele said...

Okay?! Messy!

AppleBerryMIA said...

Wait.. what? Who dis woman, Harpo?

OneChele said...

*snickers*

OneChele said...

I will be stealing don't slip and don't sleep

OneChele said...

Heckie naw.

OneChele said...

She really could have!

OneChele said...

Muy no bueno

OneChele said...

Um. *purses lips and crosses arms* I want to be right though!
;-)

CaliGirlED said...

"...all these thirsty can't handle their liquor women aren't helping the stats." This.right.here.

AppleBerryMIA said...

Tricks are for kids. Some things you just don't play with.

CaliGirlED said...

Always with the raw, real truth!!! Love it!

CaliGirlED said...

Classic!!! LMAO!!!

Mykeia said...

Dang! That's a cold way to be let go.

rozb said...

Umm...Rob? You gonna git it at home...

superwoman said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

tishatweets said...

"Sure men and women can just be friends, doesn't mean one of them isn't hoping for more."

That.

superwoman said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

tishatweets said...

*closes the piano* LOL!

tishatweets said...

That's 'cause y'all had.....wait for it....wait for it....boundaries! :)

tishatweets said...

Totally not surprised.

tiffanyinhouston said...

It's just best to not shit where you eat in my opinion.

Me thinks Mr. New New is onto something...you keep all of your good eyes on Mr. Friendly, ya heard me??

OneChele said...

As opposed to half a bad eye? #southern

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Now that is some serious thirst.

md_KG said...

*Cackles*

md_KG said...

I....I....I...Words are failing me right now...LOL!!

md_KG said...

Totally agree with this. The name of the game is boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

GrownAzzMan said...

Does it really all come down to the age old "Can men and women ever really be 'just friends'" question?

Men and women can be friends. However, men don't usually have a friend zone. Meaning that if circumstances present we will 'stir the cocoa' with someone who has been a platonic friend up to that point. That's just the way we are. Sorry Chele. Gotta rule with Ninja Nouveau on this one. Ol' boy from the job may be on the up and up but if something changes in his situation at home or yours...

OneChele said...

You realize he's going to gloat for days!

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