- By Rose Kennedy For the AJC
Since you spend so much time at work, of course you want to have friends there! But whether you're enjoying the nonphysical, non-romantic friendship of a "work spouse" or have numerous buddies at the office, some friendships do more harm than good.
According to workplace and psychology experts, these are six signs you might need to end a workplace friendship:
Your friend needs you... all the time. "Women tend to rely on their friends more heavily for emotional sustenance," Irene S. Levine, psychologist and author of Best Friends Forever, told Real Simple. "But if someone is constantly depending on you, that's when it's toxic." An overly-needy buddy will exhaust you and take up precious workplace time, with demands that range from acting as her consultant on every decision to requesting financial help.
You're on a rollercoaster. Similar to off-hours friendships, a workplace friendship that goes up and down and around might need to come to an end, according to Levine. "The unpredictability takes a toll on you," she said. "It can make you anxious, nervous, or depressed when you don't know what to expect from a friend whom you're supposed to rely on."
Your "work spouse" is showing signs of too much attachment. If your go-to work partner is now closing the door each time you meet, scheduling lots of after-hours activities that don't really have much to do with work or spending every hour in your cubicle, you may want to pull back a bit, according to Monster.com. Even if you don't have a spouse waiting at home, you want co-workers to know that your workplace relationship is on the up and up. Aside from stopping the rumor mill, you also want to let other colleagues know they are appreciated and equal.
A work friend wants you to do their chores. A friend who's taking advantage of you should cease being a friend, starting tomorrow. You can assume you really are charming and co-workers like spending time with you, but only up to a point, according to U.S. News. If a recent friend, or even a long-time pal, starts asking you to take on some of their work, it's time to question the validity of your connection. "More devious types may simply be the equivalent of that kid who, during group projects, unloaded all the work on you and walked away with an 'A' on the project," U.S. News noted. "You're mature now, so don't let that happen ... again."
Colleagues essentially consider you the same person. If you're so close to a co-worker that people literally cannot distinguish you, your friendship is depriving you of a chance to shine as an individual and take on new challenges, said psychologist Andrea Bonior in Psychology Today. You'll also suffer from any negative parts of your friend's reputation or job performance. "Don't let your bosom-buddyhood keep you from being seen as your own person," Bonior said.
It would be too drastic to end such a friendship, but you should definitely seek other buddies at work, ask to be put on separate projects occasionally and ask others for input when you can, not always your work twin.
Your supposed friend betrays you. A friend who betrays a bond doesn't get a pass just because it happened at work, according to Levine. Don't ignore that gut feeling telling you it's a big deal. Any betrayal is a sign to reevaluate the relationship.
As for setting out on another workplace friendship, there are warning times you should take it slow, Levine told CNN. Note whether a potential friend is jealous, needy or passive-aggressive, she advised. Be especially cautious if one of you is supervising the other, you work in a very competitive environment, or your paychecks are far different. Such friendships should unfold slowly "so you have a good sense of the other person, and know whether the person is trustworthy and has good judgment," Levine added.