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How to Cope When Your Work Spouse Moves On

A work spouse is really just another term for a close friend at the office. They’re someone you get along with on a personal level — a close professional ally who always has your back.
work spouse
JD Hancock/Flickr

If you’ve been lucky enough to find a work spouse, chances are you’ve come to count on them. In fact, 23 percent of people with a work spouse say they’d consider leaving if their buddy moved on. It can be tough to cope with a loss like this. But, there are ways to move forward that will benefit both you and your pal.

1. Know that it isn’t over.

Research conducted by Totaljobs found that workers with a relationship like this say they’d have a very difficult time if their work spouse moved on from the job. Seven percent said they’d actually feel bereaved it were to happen. Twenty-three percent say they’d consider leaving, too. And, 53 percent said they’d feel sad if their work spouse announced they were leaving.

It can be difficult to process a major change like this, to be sure. But, try not to get too carried away with the negative thoughts and emotions. Your friend might not be with you at work every day, but they can still be in your life. You can go to them for advice or to talk about work, just like you used to. Just because things are changing, doesn’t mean that the relationship is over.

23 percent of people with a work spouse say they'd consider leaving if their buddy moved on.Click To Tweet

2. Be grateful for your good luck.

Not everyone has a work spouse. Only 17 percent of workers reported having such a relationship. So, count your blessings and be grateful that you had a connection like this at work for a time. There are so many benefits to having had a work spouse — you had fun together, bounced ideas off one another and learned so much as a result of your pairing. That learning, and those memories, won’t be erased just because the relationship is changing. They’ll always be with you.

3. Mentally channel your work spouse.

You’ve probably gotten to know your work pal pretty darn well during your time together. You certainly have a good understanding of their general take on things — on the way they see you and the job. So, although it may feel a little funny at first, consider trying to mentally channel your friend’s wisdom during times when you’re missing it. Imagine how they’d see the situation and how they might support or advise you. This exercise is likely to at least point you in the right direction.

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4. Make new friends.

It’s really important to have friends at work. Simply put, it makes you happier, according to research. It’s fun to be able to talk about the ins and outs of the office with people who understand. And, doing so helps you to lighten the mood and continue enjoying your job. Your work spouse’s departure will change the way you socialize and interact with others at work. Be sure to cultivate relationships with other work friends. It won’t be the same as it used to be. But, it will help you move forward in a positive way.

5. Be good about staying in touch.

It’s frighteningly easy to fall out of contact with people we care about, even our closest friends. So, make staying in touch a real priority. You certainly won’t be able to talk or get together as much as you used to when you saw each other at work. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the time you do have together. You can still lean on one another for professional advice and support. Stay in touch — it will be well worth the effort.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you had a work spouse relationship that ended? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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