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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

9 Reasons Everyone Needs a Work Spouse

No matter how happy your are with your job, everyone needs a best friend in the office to get them through long hours, tight deadlines, and the occasional cubicle drama. That's why so many people rely on a work spouse, which is the co-worker you're closest with and actually enjoy being around. "This is not to imply that this is sexual in nature; this is more often just the opposite. This person simply makes the job and the work more pleasant, and makes your day a little brighter," says psychologist Nikki Martinez Psy.D, LCPC. If you never thought to have a work spouse before, these reasons are sure to change your mind.

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Laughing helps improve your productivity

Breaking up your workday with big smiles and candid laughter will help ease your stress and improve your productivity. (Yep, that means you should go ahead and watch that viral cat video.) Someone who has a similar outlook will help you stay focused and happy, so you never feel too burnt out to work hard. “A work spouse can make you laugh while knowing how to read your thoughts and emotions. They often make situations that would be otherwise unbearable, much more tolerable,” Martinez explains.

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You need trust in the workplace

No matter what your profession is, knowing there is someone in your corner who you can wholeheartedly depend on is a must for feeling secure. “It’s important to have a confidant and someone you can trust at work. Everyone should have someone they can tell anything to without fear that it will be repeated,” says Martinez.

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You’ll be more creative at work

A big part of performing your best at work is feeling free to be creative. A work wife or husband is there to bounce ideas off of and isn’t afraid to be honest with you when it comes to feedback or constructive criticism. They allow you to explore out loud without worry of being embarrassed. “You feel free to brainstorm with your work spouse, and the work takes on a certain excitement. You trust, depend on, and rely upon them to balance the workload between the two of you, as well as following through on their responsibilities,” explains therapist and author Dr. Jane Greer.

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Feeling understood helps you be more of yourself

Picture this: You go to work every day and never feel like you can fully be who you are because no one there will accept you for your successes and your downfalls. Sounds pretty demoralizing, right? That’s why Martinez says having a work spouse who can read your moods—and knows what to say to ease them—makes work a more enjoyable place to be. “Just being that understood by someone or having someone who can give you what you need in the moment, such as a much-needed laugh, can have a very important impact on your contentment at your job.”

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You’ll always have a safe place to vent

Did your employee totally drop the ball on a project? Did your boss give you another seemingly impossible-to-meet deadline? When you need to air your grievances or simply vent, a work spouse is the perfect sounding board. “Your work spouse allows you to talk about work issues that you need to get off your chest, and allows you to leave them at work, instead of taking them home with you. This can be essential for your relationship with your real spouse, as it opens room to focus on your relationship, instead of what is bugging you at work,” Martinez explains.

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You have a built-in lunch pal

Even though most Americans (sadly) eat lunch at their desks instead of in a cafeteria or salad shop, having a work spouse makes it much more likely that you take a break to chat and chew. “He or she knows what to get you for breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks and knows if you are gluten-free or how many sugars you want in your coffee,” says career coach and author Christy Whitman. Even if you can’t always sit together and catch up, you know your work wife (or work husband) will be there when you’re desperate for a Starbucks run.

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They pick up the slack when you need it

We all have days (and weeks, even) when we feel below the line. We’re not performing our best or simply feel distracted by outside factors. In these cases, a work spouse can step in and pick up the slack for you, and even be your alibi to your boss. “It creates a safe environment where you know you can depend upon your work spouse to not only encourage you and support you, but also cover for you when you’re under the weather or need a little more help. Need to take an extra-long lunch? Your work spouse won’t tell. Need a buddy for the afternoon coffee trip? Your work spouse accompanies you. You can be honest with them when you need to reboot…without consequences,” Greer explains.

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You’re a star team together

Two is better than one in many cases, and a work spouse relationship is no different. As Greer notes, being on the same team as your work spouse will mean your projects and your work ethic is double-as-awesome because you can depend on each other. “You feel supported and able to complete the project at hand, rather than feeling overwhelmed and anxious about it. Your work spouse knows exactly what you’re going through because he or she knows the co-workers, bosses, and projects you’re dealing with,” she says. “They’re in the trenches with you; they have firsthand experience to relate to your anxieties and stresses.”

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You don’t have to compete with them

When you’re with your work spouse, you’re not in competition mode; you’re in supportive mode.”You know you’ve found your work spouse when you have a sense of harmony, compatibility, and respect for each other’s ideas. Instead of competing with one another, you pool your resources to make the projects bigger and better,” Greer explains. “In sharing your ideas, you find that the creative process enables both of you to come up with ideas/concepts that neither of you may have thought of individually. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from being a team, and you may be even more productive.”