TROUBLE: Cheating with a "work spouse"

Per an article published recently by ABC News, a growing number of people admit to having so-called work spouses.

A work spouse is essentially someone of the opposite sex who you confide in enough to do things you'd probably do with a friend -- vent about the boss, go out together for a bite to eat, and so on.

Having an office spouse can make a stressful or boring job much more tolerable, especially when it calls for long hours.

However, things can get hairy when one or both people are married/in a relationship and the seemingly innocuous work relationship begins turning into something more.

They discuss private matters that would normally be between them and their real partner. They begin to spend time together outside of work. They exchange text messages at odd hours. They lie to their partner in more ways than one.

All of this can quickly and easily snowball into a full-blown affair. Remember, affairs don't have to be physical in nature. There is such a thing as emotional infidelity.

So how can you tell for sure whether you're having an affair?

That's easy. If there's something you're doing with your work spouse that you don't feel comfortable telling your partner about, you're treading on dangerous ground.

Before things spiral out of control (and assuming you love your partner and don't want to jeopardize your marriage or relationship), tell your office spouse that you want to keep it professional. Keep your private lives out of the equation. No late-night texts or private get-togethers.

If anything, you can introduce each other to your partners at a company event or even arrange a double date after work hours.

The best thing you can do is never let the relationship become like an office marriage in the first place, as it will only open a can of worms.

I've seen cases in which one person may become emotionally attached and want more out of the relationship. When the other refuses to cross that line, the jaded office spouse seeks revenge by badmouthing or gossiping to other coworkers, resulting in his or her getting fired.

In other words, going down this rabbit hole will only invite trouble, possibly resulting in the demise of your relationship or marriage. It's always best not to mix business with pleasure and stick with one "spouse" -- the one at home.

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