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Married Guy Uncomfortable After Coworker Calls Him Her ‘Work Husband’ In Front Of Entire Office

Stressed woman sitting in office is upset, she has her face in her hands.

Work boundaries can be an essential way to keep the peace at the office.

Sometimes lines get blurred and that can make a mess of everything.

That’s why H[uman] R[esources] can be such a stressful job.

But that’s also why HR is so imperative.

Redditor ta-worksister1234324 wanted to discuss his experience and get some feedback. So naturally, he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for calling my co-worker/work-sister after she called me work-husband in front of everyone?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I (34 M[ale]) work in a small office and we have about 30 people working here.”

“Mary (35 F[emale]) is one of my coworkers.”

“We have been working together for 6 years now.”

“We have 6 people in our department, and we have to frequently travel across the state as our work involves overseeing government projects.”

“We always travel in a group of two.”

“Although my travel partner changes based on the project, Mary and I are generally put on similar projects and enjoy each other’s company.”

“My wife also likes Mary.”

“Overall, we have a very healthy work relationship.”

“On to the incident.”

“Yesterday, we had a happy hour in our office, and we were all drinking after work hours and chatting.”

“It was a group of around 10 people that stayed back.”

“Mary was blabbering about how we both have been traveling together so much in the last year.”

“She was roasting me for my habits while traveling like always forgetting stuff in my hotel room, being sweaty and stinky when I join her for breakfast in the mornings (because I go to hotel gym).”

“Everyone was laughing and she was making it sound how unbearable I was to tag along (all in good fun).”

“I also told some funny and sweet stories about her and agreed with her saying that I can be difficult to be with sometimes.”

“Mary came to me and hugged me tightly and told me that she loves me, and I am her work-husband.”

“It was all innocent on the surface, but she might have been a bit drunk and just didn’t let go of her tight hug.”

“Also, I hate that phrase as I do have a wife that I promised to be with forever, and not just in non-working hours.”

“After a few seconds, I started becoming uncomfortable and also saw a few people staring at us.”

“So, to diffuse the situation, I took her hands off my shoulder and told her, she was my work-sister and that is why I love to annoy her so much.”

“That seemed to have upset Mary and she left and went back to her desk and was sobbing silently.”

“I tried to apologize to her, but she told me how embarrassing the whole situation was.”

“She said that she just meant work-husband in a platonic way, but me calling her work-sister made her sound like a creep in front of the whole office.”

“She was also angry that I aggressively removed her hands from my shoulders while hugging her.”

“I tried to reason with her that I do not like the ‘work-husband’ phrase and also people gave dirty looks when she said it.”

“So, I was just trying to make sure people do not take her words in the wrong way.”

“We talked for a few minutes afterward and Mary calmed down.”

“She hugged me again and left.”

“I felt really guilty afterward because I can see Mary’s point.”

“I made her sound like a creep by implying that she meant something inappropriate when she called me her work-husband.”

“However, I was a bit uncomfortable in that situation and just did not want people to call us that (or assume something wrong).”

“I am sitting in my office writing this and a bit worried that I embarrassed Mary in front of everyone.”

The OP was left to wonder:

“Am I the AH for calling Mary my ‘work-sister?'”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“I think you meant to ask in your last sentence if you’re the AH for calling her your work sister, not work wife.”

“Regardless, no. You’re NTA.”

“All too often, work spouses end up being inappropriately involved and you were trying to head off any rumors.”

“Good on you.”

“I think work sister is a much better term.” ~ Oddly_quirky

“One of my and my husband’s male best friends and I worked together for years.”

“Although we are ‘huggy’ people in general, we never, never hugged at work.”

“It’s not appropriate for a work environment anyway and we sure didn’t need to set any tongues wagging.” ~ Wackadoodle-do

“It’s not just that, she had to hug him again before she left and would calm.”

“And everyone is absolutely right, work-sister sounds much better and work-husband insinuates MORE.”

“Mary was upset because OP was denying there was more.”

“He is NTA and he should request they not travel together in the future.”

“He should also be having a conversation with his wife about all of this because Mary sounds a bit unstable.” ~ Tundra-Queen8812

“In this day and age, no sane company would require co-workers to share a hotel room, especially male and female.”

“I know, I know, it’s gender bias, but nevertheless hetero cisgender is the most common probability.”

“And in this case, it is also true.”

“OP is NTA, but needs to shut the whole thing down immediately.”

“A trip to H[uman] R[esources] might be in order so as to get ahead of ‘He sexually harassed me’ or other lies she may now create through anger or embarrassment.”

“I’m not saying she will for sure, but it’s best for a man especially to get in there first and spell it out.” ~ Wackadoodle-do

“NTA. I think she has a crush on you and the drinks let it out.”

“She cried because you set a boundary, shutting her down and she is embarrassed that you didn’t reciprocate her ‘work husband’ feelings.”

“You shouldn’t feel nervous.”

“You did nothing wrong.”

“She was the one who was inappropriate and made the situation uncomfortable.”

“You said your wife likes her too so Mary should feel ashamed of herself.”

“Do not let her actions now deter you from keeping this boundary that you set for fear that she will cry again and accuse you of embarrassing her again.”

“She is doing that to herself.”

“You on the other hand are being nothing but a noble co-worker and an honorable husband.”

“Do not drink with her again without your wife present.” ~ Frequent_Couple5498

“NTA… though you are being far too generous.”

“The reason why she jumped straight to thinking you were calling her a creep is because she knows what she was doing was inappropriate.”

“‘Work-husband’ is considered widely inappropriate now.”

“She knows this.”

“You responded correctly.”

“You owe your actual wife loyalty.”

“Mary needs to back off and act more of a professional.” ~ Mmm_hummus

“NTA. I think you were justified that whole time.”

“Unfortunately, alcohol can make things awkward for everyone, but you were made uncomfortable by the extended hug, so your removing her arms from you was understandable.”

“The problem right now is that Mary is only considering her own feelings and not thinking at all about how her actions made you feel.”

“She did think that such a public display of affection might make a married man uncomfortable, she is only thinking that you made her look like a creep.”

“And, let’s be honest, she did kind of look like someone hitting on a married man after drinking too much.” ~ bamf1701

“Nope, NTA – Not even a smidge.”

“Thank you for being one of the good guys, respecting your ACTUAL wife, and shutting this nonsense down.”

“She should be embarrassed by her behavior and maybe this will help her learn to keep her mitts off other people’s spouses – or even just coworkers in general.”

“I would take a step back from her though and not get played into comforting her or managing her feelings again.”

“She’s a grown woman and none of that is appropriate in the workplace.” ~ DizzyDucki

“NTA. But you need to get ahead of this.”

“You need to tell your wife about it all and what you felt.”

“You may want to ask to not go on trips with her in the future also.”

“You may have to speak to your manager or HR.”

“Best to get ahead of it all.” ~ Trick_Delivery4609

“NTA-Not everyone wants to be called a work spouse.”

“You handled it well.”

“Her accusing you of making her sound like a creep is her projecting and her problem, not yours.” ~ GothPenguin

“NTA… she did sound like a creep, especially if she knows your wife and your debt is small.”

“Work ‘marriages’ are stupid and gross not every relationship needs a romantic/sexual undertone and that would make me wildly uncomfortable traveling with her in the future.” ~ sourdough_s8n

“NTA. YOU didn’t make her look like a creep, her own behavior made her look like a creep.”

‘She’s embarrassed because of what SHE said.” ~ Itchy_Appeal_9020

OP came back with an update…

“A lot of you are asking for an update, but that sub does not allow me to post an update, so I am writing it here.”

“Thanks, everyone for your comments and for giving me confidence that I did not do anything wrong or inappropriate.”

“As I was sitting in the office the next day, I knew things would be a bit awkward between Mary and me.”

“Mary ignored me the whole morning.”

Initially, I was planning to go and apologize to her, but after the post, I decided that I did not need to do that as I should be the one who was offended.”

“Everyone in the office could see that we were acting weird, and I heard some people gossiping about us.”

“One of the ladies also came to me and asked me if I wanted to talk about Mary and me.”

“Around 3 pm in the afternoon, I was sitting in my office working.”

“Mary came into my office and closed the door behind her.”

“She was angry at me and started saying that I need to stop being an a**hole and stop ignoring her.”

“I told her to sit and to talk about what is going on.”

“She told me that she felt humiliated, and everyone had been staring at her the whole morning because of what I did.”

“I also stood my ground and told her that I was ok with her making fun of me but calling me her work-husband and hugging me in front of everyone for a long time made the situation awkward.”

“She told me to get over myself and that I should know exactly what she meant.”

“Mary said that I made a big deal of what was supposed to be a joke and made it awkward for everyone.”

“She said calling someone work-husband is a normal thing and just means that she knows me intimately like a spouse would.”

“She said that because we spend so much time traveling together, she knows all the intimate details of how I behave outside work.”

“I stopped her and told her that I felt offended by the term ‘work-husband’ because I have a wife and I do not want people to use that term to describe our relationship.”

“I told her that she would not understand as she is single, but as a married man, I really do not want anyone to describe me as a husband in any capacity.”

“She said that I was again misinterpreting what she was saying.”

“She felt that as we have known each other more time than I have been married, she knows me more intimately than even my wife (I have no idea why she feels that way) and I also behave like her husband when we travel together.”

“She went on about how we go out to dinners together after work, how I always insist on having breakfast together in the morning (to plan our actions of the day), and I walk around in my underwear (referring to my gym shorts) around her in the mornings.”

“She also talked about how we spend hours talking to each other during road trips and how I am the only man she can trust with any secret in her life.”

“She said that I am the definition of a work-husband, and I am just in denial.”

“I was a bit angry at this point.”

“I told her that I do all that because I consider her my friend, and she is delusional if she feels she knows me more intimately than my wife.”

“I told her I do not want to hear that term again, and it is extremely disrespectful to my marriage.”

“Only one woman gets to call me her husband, and that is my wife.”

“Moreover, if my actions are giving her such ideas, maybe we need to stop being friends.”

“She became apologetic afterward and told me that she did not mean to disrespect my wife and that it was not her intention.”

“She apologized to me and told me to just let it go.”

“She said that she loves traveling with me, and she does not want anything to change between us.”

She again said that I was misinterpreting her statement and just wanted to move on.”

“She came to hug me again, but I just told her it was ok and stepped back.”

“I also talked to my wife about the incident that night.”

“As expected, my wife was angry at Mary and told me that she hates the term work-husband.”

“She asked me if Mary had ever flirted with me during our trips or had a crush on me.”

“I truthfully told her that I really have not felt that way, and she may have just said that because she was a bit drunk and is now being stubborn about it.”

“My wife said that she feels a bit uncomfortable about Mary now and says that it strikes one for Mary, and I need to try and put more distance between us while traveling.”

“If she ever repeats the same behavior again, I should report her to HR.”

“I promised my wife I would try to reduce my interactions with Mary outside work hours and be more guarded around her.”

“So thanks everyone for the comments and for explaining the urgency of the situation.”

“I discussed it with my wife and have set up meetings with my manager and HR today.”

“I plan to not file a complaint but document what happened last week and why it made me uncomfortable.”

“I do not have any upcoming travels this week due to holidays but have to travel next Tuesday with her to a worksite.”

“I will discuss with my manager what my options are.”

“However, I feel a little distance between Mary and me for some time would be the right solution for now.”

Well, OP, Reddit is with you.

You’re allowed to feel how you feel.

It sounds like you have the situation under control.

Hopefully, Mary can move on as well.

Good luck.