Blurring the Lines: Exploring the Work Spouse Phenomenon. By: Whitman, Marilyn V.; Mandeville, Ashley. Journal of Management Inquiry. Jul2021, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p285-299. 15p.

Human social behavior is largely driven by our innate motivation to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships. In the workplace, employees form various types of relationships to fulfill the need to belong and affiliate. The dynamics of today’s work environment, however, are increasingly blurring the lines between work and personal domains. A different type of interpersonal workplace relationship that is drawing more attention is work spouse. A work spouse refers to an exclusive, intimate, nonsexual shared bond with a work colleague. Despite widespread media attention, this phenomenon has not garnered much attention among organizational scholars. Thus, we aim to conceptualize work spouse as a unique interpersonal workplace relationship worthy of scholarly attention. The literature on roles and boundaries helps to enhance our understanding of this unique relationship and offer a novel agenda from which to explore the work spouse relationship and its consequences in the work and personal domain.