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I used to work with someone who was smart, funny, a little goofy, and relatively handsome. From his first day, I could tell that we were going to get along. Sure enough, after a few weeks, we had a routine. We smoked a morning cigarette together and discussed weekend plans. We stood next to each other at work-mandated happy hours and drank bourbon, gossiping under our breath. If I was having a horrible day, he could tell from the timbre of my typing. We were inseparable during the workday, always there for each other, able to communicate complex sentences and emotions in a few words and a glance. After a while, I told him everything — doubts about my career path, complaints about the person I was dating, and he reciprocated in kind. From the outside, it would seem that we had been dating for years. Our interactions were marked with the easy-going nature that the best relationships have. We settled into a pattern that sustained throughout the entire time we worked together. It was the easiest relationship I had ever had.

One day, his mom who was visiting from out of town, came by the office to drop off her luggage.

“I really want you to meet her,” he told me over our morning ritual of cigarette and shit talking around the corner.

“I can’t wait,” I said.

When she showed up, he walked her over to my desk.

“This is Megan, my work friend, my … she’s a good friend, she’s more than a work friend. She’s my work girlfriend,” he said, laughing. I shook his mom’s hand, told her she had a lovely son, and went back to whatever it was that I was doing. It was settled, though I knew all along. I had an work boyfriend.

Modern office life is dreary, full of excitement only when something goes terribly wrong. The hundreds of minute frustrations you experience weekly will wear on your soul, building to a roiling boil if left unwatched and unreleased. The work boyfriend/girlfriend is one of the most valuable relationships you can make at work. Allies at the workplace are essential, and proximity breeds a quick intimacy, at almost double the pace of that in the real world. We see our coworkers more often than we see our own families, and so all relationships within that environment form quickly, and are deep and fulfilling in their own way. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a  happy relationship outside of work, because it’s okay to have an at-work analogue. Your work boyfriend can be the key to your work sanity.

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