With people spending long hours working, many of their close relationships now lie at work. So what happens when a work relationship begins to compromise a committed one? Or, causes someone to step outside their marriage? How to tell if this is happening, if at all, in your case? And how to spot the signs your husband is cheating with a coworker?
Infidelity is complex. It is also hard to pin down. After all, not all affairs involve hotel room trysts or secret vacations. So, how do office affairs begin? How can you know for sure if your husband is having a secret affair with a coworker? And what are the next steps? Should you confront him? Should you walk away? We will explore all these questions and more. But first, let’s look at how common office affairs are with some workplace affairs statistics.
How Common Are Affairs In The Workplace?
They say infidelity is a tale as old as love. Office affairs – whether between supervisors and subordinates or coworkers – aren’t new either. Same goes for emotional affairs at work. If you’re a working professional, chances are you have spotted some signs of inappropriate work relationships or even workplace affair signs at your office. Like two coworkers spending a little too much time at the copier or the coffee station. Or, finding excuses to talk to or be around each other. Though they may never openly admit to a dalliance.
So, what percentage of affairs start at work? About 60%, according to research. Here are some more workplace affairs statistics that reflect how infidelity in the workplace isn’t all that uncommon:
- The office has been reported to be one of the top 6 places besides the gym, church, volunteer groups, and social media where affairs start
- In this Forbes Advisor survey, 40% of workers reported having an affair with a coworker
- In this research, 36% of men admitted to cheating on their partners on business trips
- In another survey, 23% of people said workplace infidelity had ended a committed relationship
So, what leads to affairs in the workplace? Why do they happen? For that, we need to deconstruct how affairs start with a coworker.
Related Reading: The 7 Types of Affairs and How They Affect Relationships
How do office affairs begin?
According to author Jessica Pryce-Jones, the average person will spend nearly 100,000 hours at work in their lifetime. Much of it with coworkers. The closeness such proximity in a demanding environment can breed has given rise to terms like ‘work spouse’. Put simply, work spouses are coworkers who spend most of their working hours together and come to behave like a married couple. Though such connections are mostly non-romantic, sometimes, they may lead to more.
In one survey, 20% of US workers reported having romantic feelings for a work spouse. So, how does attraction develop between coworkers? Like any relationship, there is a progression when it comes to affairs in the workplace:
- Initially, they may share a good work relationship. Then, in between meetings, Zoom or Slack calls, deadlines, and work events, they may begin to discuss other stuff, like midnight haunts or date night plans
- Over time, they may start to exchange more intimate information, indulge in some flirting, or show more signs of an inappropriate work relationship
- All this may set the stage for micro-cheating or lead them to cross into emotional or physical intimacy, even if that wasn’t the initial intention
That’s how affairs start with a coworker. And why? Think about it. The coworker turns up looking perfect every day and makes them feel appreciated and understood. Add the excitement of the new closeness. Throw in some relationship dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, boredom, or simply, opportunity. And the ground becomes ripe for a cheating situation.
Related Reading: How Are Most Affairs Discovered — 9 Common Ways Cheaters Are Caught
Is your husband having an affair in the office?
If you are wondering whether your partner is cheating at work with a colleague, or looking up workplace affair signs, maybe you’ve picked up on something that is making you suspect them. So how can you know for sure if your husband is having an affair at work? You can’t really – unless you talk to him. Or, catch him in the act. However, there are clues you can look out for. So, what can count as signs your husband is cheating with a coworker? Read on to find out.
15 Signs Your Husband Is Having An Affair With A Coworker
In one study, people were asked about the strategies they would use to detect their partner’s infidelity. Most people said they would pay attention to changes in behavior, confront their partner, or try and confirm their whereabouts. At the same time, many were hesitant to violate their partner’s privacy outright by checking their phones, e-mails, social media, or belongings. Even though that could uncover concrete evidence.
When it comes to infidelity, it’s best not to assume the worst without reason. But you don’t want to be blindsided either. If you are looking for tell-tale signs your husband is cheating with a coworker without invading his privacy and have it backfire on you, here are some indicators to look out for:
1. He is more inclined to spend time at work and carry work home
Sometimes, the signs your husband is having an affair at work can lie in shifts in his schedule or attitude toward work, like:
- Suddenly, becoming a workaholic and working late
- Sitting with his laptop or phone with ‘work stuff’ at all hours at home
At times, changes in schedules, like spending more time at work, working late, and taking extra work or more business trips, can be situational. And not signs your significant other is cheating or having a secret affair with a coworker. They may simply indicate he likes the work he is doing. Or working on an important project. Or he wants to impress his boss ahead of a big promotion.
But if the changes are unexplained. If he’s constantly coming up with excuses for coming home late, skipping family events, or becoming unreachable for long spells. If his laptop never had a password, but now does. Or, he’s carrying his phone everywhere, which he never did. And he’s demanding more privacy. Then there may be more to it. Like loss of interest in the marriage, perhaps due to workplace infidelity.
Related Reading: What Can You Do If Your Husband Comes Home Late Every Day?
2. New interests and attitudes could be signs he’s hooking up with a coworker
Maybe he’s not working hard all the time. Instead, he’s become decisive or self-assured. And seems like a new person. Maybe he’s listening to genres of music he never liked before. Or, taken to new hobbies or interests, which involve time away from home. While it is normal to want to switch things up once in a while, it is advisable to pay attention if:
- He’s lost all interest in your relationship and the activities you once did together
- He tries out new things and meets new people but never with you
- When you show interest in his new hobbies or friends, he changes the conversation a little too quickly
- Or, he tends to get defensive or act vague when you ask about the time he’s spending away from home
Maybe he’s shopping for golf clubs or checking out hiking trails because he met someone new at work or started to get close to a colleague who’s keen on those things. His newfound confidence and interests could be early tell-tale signs he’s cheating on you at work.
3. Signs husband likes coworker: He is dressing to impress
While there is nothing wrong with self-care or dressing to the nines, if it is uncharacteristic or out of the blue, then it may be worth looking into. It could indicate he’s trying to impress someone else or having an affair with a coworker, especially if:
- Your husband is putting extra effort into his appearance or hitting the salon — something he’s never done before
- His taste in clothes has undergone a radical shift, or he’s become a total clotheshorse from a fashion slob
- He’s obsessing over the bit of flab around his tummy or exercising fanatically, though earlier he never got off the couch
4. He can’t stop talking about a certain female coworker
Your husband has been raving about a female colleague lately. He’s been waxing eloquent about her work ethic or wit, or bringing her up constantly. And it’s begun to bother you a little. Perhaps, you’ve overheard them on the phone and something about their tone has got you Googling, “My husband is too friendly with a coworker” and inappropriate friendships, or looking up “signs husband likes coworker a little too much”.
Related Reading: What To Do When A Woman Is Flirting With Your Husband At Work
5. Or he’s stopped talking about his colleagues or work in general
Maybe instead of talking endlessly about a coworker, he’s just stopped talking about the goings on of his work life. In the past, he’d tell you how he spent his time at work and shared all the gossip about his colleagues. How a certain XYZ was quite sneaky or how he picked on ABC. You knew every Tom, Dick, and Harriet at his workplace, even those you’d never met. But now:
- He no longer talks about colleagues
- He has stopped inviting them home or planning outings with them and it almost feels like he doesn’t want you to meet them
- He carefully shuts down all conversations about his work life or a certain coworker
This could be a sign that your partner is cheating at work with a colleague. Maybe he’s avoiding talking about work and keeping colleagues away to prevent any damning details about his transgressions from slipping through.
6. He doesn’t talk anymore
Your other half answers your messages in monosyllables. Or, takes hours to respond. He’s uninterested in everything you say and has become aloof and withdrawn. And all the emotional or intellectual intimacy you shared has vanished. It’s time to find out why. At times, changes in communication can point to underlying issues in a marriage. But they also count among workplace affairs signs. If he’s straying, he’s probably keeping mum because he’s worried you will ask him a question and catch him in a lie.
7. You are no longer his plus-one at work events and his office is off-limits
This is one of the more typical signs your husband is flirting at work and doesn’t want you to find out about it. And if he is having a full-fledged office affair, he will want to eliminate all possibility of you bumping into his affair partner. That means:
- He will make excuses to stop you from accompanying him to work events
- He will keep telling you not to visit his office, saying his boss doesn’t approve of it
- If you do surprise him at work, he will seem high-strung, uncomfortable, or downright irritable
Such behaviors are among commonly overlooked red flags. If they are becoming a part of a larger pattern, look for other cheating in the workplace signs, and you might just find enough tangible proof to confront him.
Related Reading: How To Confront A Cheater – 11 Expert Tips
8. He complains about home life and responsibilities
From grocery shopping to doctor visits, driving the kids to school, or tucking them in bed, if he’s getting out of the things he was happy to do once or complaining about his responsibilities, it may be worth finding out why. That’s because dwindling interest in the home and the kids can be signs your husband is cheating with a coworker.
9. He showers you with love and attention
Is your husband paying an inordinate amount of attention to you, and how? He’s bringing you flowers, planning date nights, or dropping little gifts. He’s even noticing and praising all the little things you do and trying out new moves in the bed. As cynical as it may sound, sudden doting, unexpected thoughtfulness, and experiments in bed can be signs your husband is cheating with a coworker.
All the attention and gifts can point to cheating guilt. Maybe he is buying two of the same stuff – for her and you – because he is feeling guilty about betraying your trust. Or maybe all this attention is just a ploy to throw you off his cheating, lying scent. After all, if he is the model husband, you’d have no reason to suspect he’s cheating on you.
10. He seems unusually distracted or stressed
Affairs or infidelity in the workplace involve a lot of juggling of schedules, lies, and dual lives. And this is bound to take a toll. If your husband is having an affair with a coworker:
- He may become unusually forgetful or absentminded
- You may find yourself repeating what you say to him because he’s often distracted
- Even if he nods along, you know he is not really listening, though he rushes to pick up his phone the second it rings
In the absence of other personal, professional, or relationship problems, these can be signs that his mind is preoccupied with thoughts of the affair partner. Or that covering up signs of an affair with a coworker has become a source of constant stress for him.
Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Partner Is Sleeping With Someone Else
11. Business trips have become the norm
This is one of the more classic cheating in the workplace signs: He’s not just spending most of his time at work, but spending more time away from home. From overnight work trips, business meetings on the weekends to long-distance business trips, he’s traveling more frequently. And he’s not calling or checking in like he used to. Unless his job demands all the travel or business trips, take it as a red flag, especially if you’ve spotted other things that indicate cheating.
12. He finds fault with you or shows contempt
He’s become overcritical lately and keeps pointing out all the things you are doing wrong – and that’s pretty much everything. He is picking fights for no reason, being unreasonable, or storming out over trivial things. With every conversation turning into an argument, you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around him.
If there is nothing else to explain these changes, then they may point to a guilty conscience. The changes in his attitude toward you can be signs your spouse is cheating with a coworker or has become emotionally invested in someone else. And he’s finding fault with you to justify his affair – the one thing most cheating partners tend to do.
13. He defends infidelity
This can be one of the more subtle signs your husband is cheating with a coworker:
- From criticizing infidelity, he’s switched to sympathizing with it
- Whenever it comes up in conversation, he finds ways to explain or justify it
- Conversely, he may avoid all discussions about infidelity or get really touchy when someone frowns on work affairs or cheating men
Related Reading: 12 Excuses To Cheat Men Usually Come Up With
14. He accuses you of cheating
You’ve given him no reason to suspect you. Yet, he’s falsely accusing you of cheating. It could be because he is feeling guilty about his own unfaithfulness, but instead of coming clean, he’s projecting his guilt onto you. If you call out his changed behavior, and he starts:
- Hurling accusations or blame
- Asking why you can’t trust him more
- Gaslighting, or saying you’re the reason he’s changed
Know that people in healthy relationships do not resort to such mind games. And they could indicate he’s trying to distract you from looking more closely at the signs of an affair and deflect suspicion.
15. You stumble across actual evidence of cheating
The thing about secrets and lies in a relationship is that at some point, they stop adding up. Even if he’s extra cautious about covering his tracks, you may start to find concrete signs he’s cheating on you at work, like:
- Feminine fragrance or hair on his shirt when he comes back from work
- Another woman’s products in his baggage after one of his business trips
- Bills or receipts that indicate his group dinner was really a meal for two
- Unexplained cash withdrawals or credit card statements, which he’s being rather cagey about
Related Reading: 15 Shocking Things Cheaters Say When Confronted
How To Deal With Your Husband’s Workplace Affair
Finding out your partner has strayed can be shattering. It can make you question everything – your judgment, your reality, and your worth. It can shake your confidence and fracture your willingness to trust. And it can unleash overwhelming rage, resentment, or sadness that come and go in turns. Hard as all this can be, if you come across definitive signs your husband is cheating with a coworker, don’t let them slide. Or, wait for the affair to blow over. Sit down with your partner for a serious conversation and:
- Talk things through: Tell him how you’re feeling and ask for the truth. Be prepared for him to get defensive. Try and remain as objective and dispassionate as you can and give him a chance to explain himself
- Decide if you want to end things or stay: Take your time to calm down and clear your head before you make up your mind. Speak to someone you trust like a friend or family member, or opt for counseling to get the support and clarity you need
- Focus on the practicalities: Find out if you need to get tested for STDs. Or, if you’ve decided to end things, focus on figuring out financial and custody arrangements
- Don’t try to teach him a lesson or opt for revenge cheating: Any satisfaction from this will be short-lived and things could even go badly for you
If he asks for a second chance and you feel inclined to:
- Ask him how he plans to work on the relationship
- Discuss if he needs to move jobs to end his affair with the coworker, or get a transfer
- If that’s not an option, ask him how he plans to keep things strictly professional at work
- Seek couples therapy to gain some perspective on the affair and guidance on how to build trust back
- Statistics show that 60% of affairs start in the workplace
- The reasons why people cheat at work include low self-esteem, relationship dissatisfaction, boredom, or opportunity
- If your husband is straying, there may be changes in work routines, greater secrecy around work, or demands for privacy
- There may be other changes in behavior, like taking up new hobbies and interests, paying more attention to his appearance, or growing indifference or hostility toward you
- He may even accuse you of infidelity or pin the blame on you
- You do not need to deal with infidelity alone. Get the help you need to cope and take your time to decide the next steps
Is cheating a death knell for a relationship? Can a marriage survive infidelity? The answer largely depends on the spouses themselves and how they deal with it. However, it is best to walk away if work affairs are becoming a pattern and your trust is being breached over and over again.
The only sure-shot way is asking him or catching him red-handed. However, a combination of signs can indicate he is cheating on you with a coworker, like greater secrecy around work or unexplained changes in attitude, personality, or behavior.
He may take extra care in his appearance if he fancies his colleague and wants to impress her. He may even talk about her often. Or, avoid bringing her up altogether.
There is no way to know for certain. If you are worried about it though, observe his interactions with his coworker and look for any red flags in his behavior toward you, like growing indifference, anger, or contempt.
Healthy friendships are well and good, but if you spot inappropriate behaviors, make your husband aware that you do not approve and ask him to be careful.