Times have changed. Nowadays men and women are working side by side, thus providing much more opportunity for extra-marital affairs to occur.
Previously it was assumed that only people in unhappy marriages have extra-marital affairs. However, this is a myth. Even people who have a good marriage and value monogamy may find themselves in an affair if they do not uphold strong boundaries with work colleagues.
Below are some helpful practices to help you shield yourself from getting over-involved with a colleague.
1. Don't talk badly about your spouse or your marriage in office. It gives the signal that you're dissatisfied with your relationship and thus might be available or interested in something better. Though you may not have these intentions, those listening may interpret it that way, especially if someone already finds you attractive and wants to get close to you. If you are having difficulty in your marriage, speak to a counselor or directly with your spouse.
2. Keep things professional. Avoid meeting outside for coffee to discuss official business alone with a colleague of the opposite gender. Coffee is by definition casual, thus it's easy to become too friendly and slip into personal conversation.
Similarly, don't have a dinner meeting at a restaurant alone with a colleague of the opposite gender about business that could have been discussed in the office during working hours. Lunch meetings are viewed as more formal and official since they're during the standard working day. Meetings should take place during working hours and on company premises if at all possible.
3. Socialize in groups and avoid being alone with that someone you may find attractive. This goes for out of town business trips as well.
4. Be disciplined especially during casual company events. For example, at company parties don't have more than one drink. If one drink loosens your tongue then don't have even that!
5. Be aware of your boundaries at all times, especially in the evening or during night shifts. When evening comes around the atmosphere changes. People automatically become more casual. Avoid sharing too much about your personal life.
6. Avoid physical touch beyond a handshake or a pat on the shoulder.
7. Know when you may be crossing the line. Affairs don't just happen out of the blue. Friendships and emotional connections get built over time as people slowly start sharing more and more with each other. Soon you may find yourself sharing more with your colleague than with your spouse. It's a slippery slope. It's easy to idealize a colleague because you don't see the bad side of them. You don't have to live with them and share all the tensions of daily life. If you find yourself comparing your colleague with your spouse and finding fault with your spouse, this is a red flag. Know when you are getting too attached to someone and pull back.
8. Take your spouse to company events which are open to family. Introduce your spouse to your close friends in office. Transparency works best.
9. When talking or interacting with a colleague, take a mental test - ask yourself ‘If my spouse walked in right now, would I feel comfortable doing what I'm doing?' If your answer is no, then you may have blurred the boundaries with your colleague and need to pull back.
10. Nurture your friendship with your spouse. Married couples often find themselves busy with keeping their home, the children, and managing their jobs. Much time is spent talking about logistics. Take time to chat about other things, laugh together, and do things you both find interesting.