Infidelity: 12 Tips to Avoid an Office Affair — and Keep Your Marriage Safe

Pick a cheater, any cheater, and ask him why he had an affair. Nine times out of 10, the answer will be, “It just happened.” Wrong. While psychologists may not agree on the ‘whys’ behind an extramarital affair, they do agree that affairs don’t just happen. At some level, a conscious choice is made, said Tina B. Tessina, 64, a Long Beach, Calif.-based psychotherapist and author of “The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart” (Adams Media, April 2008). “You have to decide that you are going to do this. No one makes you.”

Since the number one place for affairs to blossom is in the workplace, she and several others with expertise in the arena of extramarital affairs, warn that we should all be extra careful at work to keep our boundaries in place. Among their tips to keep an office affair from happening:

1. Never go out socially with a coworker from the opposite sex, especially your boss, and especially not alone.

“Infidelity can sneak up on even the most solid partnerships,” said Stephany Alexander, CEO of, a Web site devoted to research on men and relationships with an extensive polling database. “92 percent of 6,330 women believe that emotional affairs lead to physical affairs, whereas only a mere 8 percent believe they do not.”

2. Keep your friendships out of the office.

Since office affairs usually genesis slowly and begin as an emotional connection, Alexander warns that even the most innocuous friendship at work has the potential to morph into something more. The best defense is offense. Keep your relationship inside those office walls.

3. Don’t drink.

“If for some reason you find yourself in the position where you have to go out, whatever you do, don’t drink. Drinking alcohol or using drugs during or after office hours with a co-worker of the opposite sex is one of the quickest ways that lead to infidelity because it lowers your inhibitions,” she said. “Even having a cocktail at a business lunch can lead to more intimate conversations and inappropriate behavior.”

4. If you’re a woman, consider the motive.

“While you might not be looking for an affair, that doesn’t mean your coworker isn’t. Men deliberately try to go to lunch with attractive women at work by themselves because they want the opportunity to occur,” said David Pounder, 31, who has his doctoral degree from the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. “So to reduce office affairs it is important to educate women that doing things alone with men from work, such as meetings, lunch, etc., creates an environment for an emotional connection to occur, and effectively increases the risk of an office affair dramatically.”

5. No lunches or meetings alone.

“The bottom line is that you shouldn’t go to lunch or any other work function with a member of the opposite sex alone. If you are serious about your existing relationship, always invite a friend or other co-workers along to prevent the environment for an emotional connection to occur,” Pounder said. Alexander agreed, adding that even one-on-one meetings wit a member of the opposite sex at work can be dangerous and even viewed as a possible impropriety. “Now I know it’s not possible to always have meetings in groups,” she said. “However, if you know you are attracted to an acquaintance, try to plan your meetings in groups because this helps lower the intimacy factor.”

6. Bring your spouse on business trips — if you can.

And if you have to travel for your job, Alexander says try to bring your spouse along. “Travel on business meetings together whenever possible. The old saying “when the cat’s away, the mouse will play” rings very true. Don’t put yourself in situations where you are more likely to cheat such as going on solo vacations or going to a bar alone. If you are traveling for business and your partner is unable to join you, phone them daily to stay in touch,” she said.

7. It’s business, not personal.

“Keep it strictly business in and out of the office. The office is meant for business, not gossip or intimate details,” said Alexander. “Don’t flirt, touch or wear revealing clothing if you are a woman. Keep it professional.”

8. Think about why you’re attracted to a coworker.

Sometimes, regardless of the level of professionalism you exude, you can find yourself attracted to a coworker, despite your best intentions. According to Mona Barbera, author of “Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy,” that’s when a little introspection goes a long way. “If you find yourself attracted to someone at work, think about what they offer you,” she said. “Is it something missing in your own marriage? Excitement? Security? Deep emotional connection? If it is, go back to your marriage and find out why it’s missing. If you don’t, you will be vulnerable to attractions from other people.”

9. Don’t be a target.

“If a man in your office wants to have an affair, you’re a walking target if you seem unhappy. At a basic level, men will have sex with any attractive woman regardless of his relationship status if there is no chance of him being caught,” said Pounder. “However, since it takes two to tango, women need to opt-in to the scenario. Women, on the other hand, prefer to have sex with men with whom they have an emotional connection. These types of connections occur by working together, but only during one-on-one scenarios where people are more likely to open up.”

10. Keep your emotional boundaries.

“Don’t share too many personal details with the opposite sex in your office. Intimate details should be for your partner. Many times emotional infidelity leads to physical infidelity. If a conversation is becoming too intimate for you, simply redirect the conversation to include your partner or politely direct the person towards professional help,”Alexander said. “Erect barriers when you feel a person is getting too close,” added Paul F. Davis, author of “Adultery 101” and “Breakthrough For A Broken Heart” ( ). “If necessary ask your supervisor to intervene or your supervisor’s manager if the person making the advance is the supervisor.”

11. Work on your own relationship with your spouse.

“Since affairs at work, no matter how tempting, come with a huge price tag, avoiding them at all costs is the best option. But that can be hard work if you are caught up in the moment, enjoying the attention and only thinking about yourself. Come out of your cloud of hormones, and think about the repercussions,” Tessina said. “[Know] what you’re risking: marital problems or divorce; work problems or loss of job; a lot of emotional stress and heartache.”

12. Emphasize your current relationship.

“Put positive effort into your relationship daily. It doesn’t matter if you give your partner an extra hug or put the dishes away,” Alexander said. “The fact that you are doing something small to show you care on a regular basis can make all the difference.”

“But if you do find that things are not worth it at home, at least have the courtesy to get out before starting something new. If you are considering cheating, respect your partner enough to end the relationship for the sake of their emotional and sexual health,” she said. “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”