Workplaces typically have their fair share of drama: Boardroom disagreements and stolen sandwiches from the break room fridge, anyone? Throw an office flirtation into the mix, and the drama reaches a new level. From Jim and Pam to Peggy and Pete, we’ve all seen how easy it is to develop a crush when you’re working from nine to five every day with an attractive person of the opposite sex.
And in fact, it’s way more common IRL than you may think. A recent study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy surveyed 160 women in long-term relationships, and seventy percent said they’d had a crush on someone other than their primary partner—a majority said their crush was on a coworker.
But even though you share jokes, stale coffee, and subtle eye rolls over endless conference calls with that cutie in the next cubicle, that’s not to say you’re not still in love with your partner at home. So even though things may get a little flirty, having a crush at the office is totally harmless—right?
Turns out, a workplace crush could actually benefit your real relationship—to a certain extent. The women in the study reported that their office ogling actually increased their desire for their serious partner. Women actually “transferred” their increased sexual desire to their long-term S.O. at home, the researchers say. What’s more: Most said flirting with someone at work had no negative impact on their real relationship.
We know—this sounds a little too “have your cake and eat it too.” But experts say the findings are legit. “When you’re aware of a crush, your erotic triggers are activated,” explains Sari Cooper, a certified sex and couples therapist. This means it can be go-time when you hit the sheets after a long day. “Often, people aren’t aware of what turns them on, so if you can bring that turned-on sexual energy back to your partner, it can inject some pizzazz into a long-term relationship.”
Workplace crushes can indeed be a fun way to spice up your marriage, agrees Rachel Sussman, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and couples counselor. “Feeling sexy when chatting with the muscle-bound guy in accounting, or stealing glances at the attractive new manager who’s 15 years younger than you—that’s fine,” she says. “Those situations are pretty safe, as long as you know you’re not going to act on it. “ (Or try these 9 Ways to Sex Up Your Relationship.)
However, having a lust interest at work can be a double-edged sword, Sussman warns. Research points to the fact that most affairs do start in the office. So while looking is OK, if you feel the urge to act on it, something may be off in your real-life love—and you should deal with that with your partner. Otherwise? It’s all in the name of love!