How to deal with his work girlfriend
By Georgia Clark
She’s pretty, smart and confidant. She shares your boyfriend’s professional interest and sees more of him than you do. Of course she does—she’s his work girlfriend. When you’re single, a work boyfriend is the best. They’re the one who can help you wrangle that Excel spreadsheet AND tell you when there’s cake in the kitchen. But when it’s your lad that has a work lass—who happens to be oh-so-single—things are different. “I was insanely jealous of Gillian before I even met her,” confesses Julia, 24. “Everything [my boyfriend] Benji said about her made her seem like she was the coolest, funniest person in the world.” It’s no wonder your boyfriend’s work GF thinks he’s the bomb. She gets to see him taking control, rather than taking out the trash. But when you have cause for concern?
am i normal?
It’s completely normal to feel jealous of the girl who makes your boy’s workday a total freakin’ delight. “This jealousy comes from him having a part of his life that is independent of your relationship,” says psychologist Aileen Alegado, pointing out he spends more time seeing work colleagues than anyone else in his life. Given how busy the modern day gal is, you probably feel you don’t already spend enough time with your guy, and so it’s normal to feel jealous that the cute girl in the next cubicle gets to see him for 40 hours a week. What’s not normal is feeling that Something Is Going On, and that his work girlfriend is set to become his next girlfriend.
taming the green-eyed monster
Avoid the urge to catch him out or spy on him. “Don’t insist that there is something more if he denies this,” warns Aileen. “Be content on your partner’s word unless you have valid evidence for your concerns.” She recommends expressing an interest in meeting the work girlfriend or going along to some of their work functions, explaining this should help neutralise any threat that you may have about her. But don’t go overboard—showing up unexpectedly with homemade muffins to show him what a great girlfriend you are is crazy, not caring. Relationship counsellor Chris Dawson states that “in a healthy relationship, you should be able to put your concerns on the table, and your boyfriend should respectfully address these concerns with the type of reassurance that leaves you feeling completely satisfied that there is nothing there.” But if you can’t get no satisfaction, you have to work out if it’s you, him or her that is the problem.
red flag alert
The reality is you can’t control his or her behaviour. What can control is how you react. You can decide whether his relationship with his work girlfriend is a deal-breaker for you. “Over time, I became sure of the fact [my boyfriend] Dave*’s work girlfriend had a crush on him,” says Anna*, 23. “It started as a friendship, but then she began to push the boundaries. I basically ended up saying, it’s me or her.” To his credit, Dave cut her loose. But not all guys are so solid. “I don’t think anything ever happened between Mike* and Sosanna*,” says Kathryn*, 27. “But it was the way he behaved that made me dump him—hiding his phone, getting defensive and refusing to talk about it with me.”
And this, ironically enough, is one of the upsides of your guy and his work GF—it’s a litmus test. The best case scenario is his relationship with his work girlfriend makes him happy at work, “and if he’s happy, then he will make a better partner,” says Aileen. It also shows he’s able to have platonic relationships with women, and that he can hear your concerns and adjust his behave accordingly. But if there’s anything about the situation that upsets or threatens you, Chris advises to use it as an assessment opportunity as to the character, integrity and manhood of your boyfriend. “If he becomes caught up with the work girlfriend, then she’s actually done you a favour, in showing up of your boyfriend’s character faults”. Simply put, his work girlfriend has shown you he ain’t worth fighting for.
If the relationship is solid, nine times out of ten, you’ve got nothing to worry about. “In the end, I met Gillian in person when she invited us both to her birthday,” Julia says. “She was friendly but not inappropriate with Benji—she was actually pretty cool. I even ended up inviting her to join my Book Club.” Keep in mind that at the end up his 9 – 5, it’s you he’s coming home to: and between spreadsheets and actual sheets, the latter always wins.
- Names have been changed
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