There is an increasing number of people who
have an affair with a co-worker. However, most people believe this will never happen to them. In other words, everyday
people who thought it would never happen to them are having an affair.
Believing an affair will never happen to you offers little protection from having an affair at work. You will be
attracted to co-workers. It's inevitable. If you want to protect you, your spouse, and your children from the
devastation that follows an affair we recommend you implement the following 10 tips.
1. Control Your Thoughts
Your thoughts are your first line of defense in protecting yourself from an affair. Not all thoughts become actions
but all actions begin as thoughts. Obviously, thinking about having sex with a co-worker doesn't mean you will
act on the thought. However, thinking about having sex with a co-worker does increase your chances of acting on
those thoughts if the opportunity presents itself.
Keep your thoughts on a professional level. Pretend that everyone at your office has the ability to hear your thoughts.
If you find yourself dwelling on thoughts that would embarrass you if others were listening then replace those
thoughts with something more appropriate.
2. Emotional Intimacy
Picture yourself alone with a co-worker of
the opposite sex. How comfortable would you feel if he or she took off his or her suit coat? On your next visit
not only does the suit coat come off but the tie or scarf too. On the next visit your co-worker is comfortable
enough to not only take off the suit coat, tie or scarf but he or she unbuttons the top button of his or her shirt.
As your co-worker becomes more comfortable with you, each visit results in him or her removing more clothing until
at last your co-worker has on nothing at all.
Opening up emotionally to a co-worker of the opposite sex is like removing clothing one item at a time. At first
it is very innocent. There is no need for alarm. Neither of you have done anything wrong. However, the more you
open up to each other emotionally, the more vulnerable you become to having an emotional affair.
Most people believe that as long as they don't have sex with a co-worker then they have done nothing wrong. However,
emotional intimacy with a co-worker can sometimes cause more damage to the health of your marriage than a one night
stand. The closer you become emotionally with a co-worker of the opposite sex, the further you will withdraw emotionally
from your spouse. Once you are having an emotional affair, it will become increasingly difficult to refrain from
adding the physical element to the affair.
Emotional affairs are similar to physical affairs in that the initial bonding can be a very intense experience.
Your co-worker will probably listen to you and understand you better than your spouse has in years. However, just
like the intense sex from a physical affair the intense emotional feelings will eventually fade overtime.
Keep the topic of your conversations with co-workers of the opposite sex focused on work related items. If the
conversation switches to a more personal level then make a quick exit. How do you know if the conversation is
on a personal level? Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable with a room full of people listening to the conversation.
This may seem extreme, especially since we all have a desire to reach out and help those in emotional pain. The
problem is most of us haven't received training that would allow us to help while maintaining an appropriate emotional
distance. If you find it difficult or uncomfortable making a quick exit, think about the end from the beginning.
How difficult would it be to explain to your spouse why you are leaving him or her. How difficult would it be to
explain to your children why you are getting a divorce. Would either one of these conversations be less difficult
than coming up with an excuse to make a quick exit?
You are not the only person who can help your co-worker with his or her problems. Stay safe and let someone else
help. The problems that you could help solve are nothing compared to the problems you both will create if you end
up in an emotional or physical affair.
If you desire more emotional intimacy then talk with your spouse. Emotional intimacy takes time and effort, so
you will need to schedule a time when you can be emotionally intimate with your spouse. This may not sound very
romantic or even possible. You probably would prefer for this to happen spontaneously. But with all the demands
that both of you have on your time, the likelihood of emotional intimacy happening spontaneously and at a convenient
time is virtually zero. Scheduling time to be emotionally intimate might seem awkward at first but overtime it
can become quite natural.
3. Avoid Being Alone Together
Do everything possible to avoid being alone
with co-workers of the opposite sex. Don't go out to lunch, have drinks, travel, recreate, etc. alone with a co-worker
of the opposite sex. If you do any of these activities does it mean you are going to have an affair with a co-worker?
Of course not. But each activity will make having an affair that much easier to slip into.
4. Remind Yourself About the Reality of Affairs
The incredible sex will eventually become ordinary.
The excitement of the affair will fade with
The faults you and your co-worker have been
hiding from each other will be discovered.
Chances are very slim you will be able to form
a healthy and happy long-term relationship with each other.
If you do manage to transition to a long term
relationship you both will always have doubts that the other is staying faithful.
Very few people who have had an affair will
tell you it was worth it.
The cold hard reality about affairs is once
you have peeled off the attractive packaging, you are only going to find misery and heartache.
5. Personal Space
The closer you get two attracting magnets to
each other the stronger the attraction becomes. Increase your personal space and keep co-workers of the opposite
sex outside that space as much as possible.
6. Don't Flirt
Flirting may seem innocent and fun, but it's
like revving your engine at a stoplight. All that will happen is you are either going to heat up your engine or
accidentally slip into oncoming traffic. A few minutes of having fun by flirting is not worth the heartache and
misery it could lead to.
7. Minimize Physical Contact
If you are in the habit of touching co-workers
on the shoulder, arm, back, etc., break the habit. You probably don't mean anything by it, but your co-worker
might get the wrong impression.
8. Get a Buddy
The buddy system is used to protect you from
unseen or overlooked dangers. Choose a co-worker of the same gender and ask him or her to be your “Marriage Guard”
Ask him or her to be brutally honest with you if he or she notices behaviors, habits, etc that could result in
getting too close to the line that you don't want to cross.
9. Don't Drink
Most people who have sex with a co-worker while
intoxicated would have abstained had they been sober. Chances of having sex with a co-worker while you are drunk
are actually pretty low. Chances of getting in an auto accident while intoxicated are also pretty low. Why take
small chances at all? Is the few hours of pleasure from the alcohol worth the years of pain and misery you will
experience from one night of drunken sex?
10. Strengthen Your Marriage
The grass is greener on the side you water.
A healthy marriage doesn't guarantee you won't have an affair, but it does offer significant protection. Grass
only stays green and healthy if you water, fertilize and care for it on a regular basis. The same is true for your
marriage. If you want your marriage to stay healthy, you need to nurture it on a daily basis. Tips to nurture your
marriage on a daily basis can be found in the Healthy Marriage Pamphlet Series at healthymarriagetips.com/pamphletseries.htm
Protecting your marriage takes time and effort. However, if you think any of these tips are too hard to implement
ask someone who has gone through an affair how hard it was to try and repair the damage that was done to his or
Most importantly, realize that an affair can happen to you. By acknowledging this fact you will be less likely
to lower defenses and make a mistake during a “moment of weakness”.
It is also important to write down your “Marriage Protection Plan”. Write down the specific things you will do
to keep yourself as far away from becoming ensnared by the web of an affair. Don't skip this step. It may seem
insignificant, but the act of writing your plan down increases your chances of implementing the plan when it is
By following these steps you can decrease your chances of experiencing the pain and misery from an affair and increase
your chances of experiencing a healthy and happy marriage.
In addition to reading the 10 tips, we highly recommend you read NOT
"Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity
by Dr. Shirley Glass. This book is not just for those who have gone through an affair but can provide a lot of
insights and tips to help those who want to avoid affairs. To read more about the book or buy it from Amazon.com
Learn even more skills and information that can help you form and sustain a healthy marriage by taking a healthy
marriage education workshop. To find one in your area visit the directory of marriage education programs at the
SmartMarriages website by clicking here.