When it Comes to Working Relationships, How Close is Too Close?

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga performed at the Academy Awards on Sunday night and gossip about their relationship is spreading like wildfire. From Tweeters to other celebrities, folks are insisting that they must be more than friends on account of their chemistry on stage. Jess joined Jeff and Carolyn on Global TV’s The Morning Show to discuss. See her segment notes below.

Why are people insisting that they must be sleeping together?

First, let’s remember that they’re actors; they’re acting at an award show that celebrates the best acting in the business. That’s their job and apparently they’re very good at it.

Children can differentiate between make believe and reality when they watch Spiderman scale walls and Vin Diesel tear through the streets like a race car driver. Adults should be able to differentiate between fantasy and reality too — whether they’re watching the oscars or watching porn.

Perhaps people want to believe that Gaga and Cooper are madly in love for its their own version of fan fiction. When we see celebrities, we often feel an affinity for them and believe that we know them. We see parts of them and so we want to write the unknown parts into our own stories that reflect our personal desires and narratives.

Physical closeness in North America is often conflated with sexual or romantic closeness, but for many of us, this isn’t the case. You can be affectionate, loving and intimate without begin romantically or sexually involved.

How close is too close for co-workers?

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1934You likely want to consider the job. As actors or models, you might get naked with your co-workers. As television producers, teachers or accountants, the boundaries are different.

And even when it comes to specific professions, individual boundaries matter. One TV host might be comfortable changing in front of their colleagues while another might feel uncomfortable doing so. There is no right or wrong approach — or universal standard — as long as all parties consent.

Some people joke about having a work spouse — is this appropriate?

It’s all about consent. If all parties involved enjoy the joke, then joke away. If it makes anyone uncomfortable or threatens the working or real-life spousal relationship, consider finding another way to express appreciation for your co-worker.

My partner, Brandon, worked with a woman who referred to him as a “work husband” and it didn’t bother me, but it bothered him. He didn’t like the expectations it placed on him and disliked the fact that she compared herself to me — he felt it was disrespectful of all the effort we’ve put into becoming life partners.

How can a jealous spouse react in a constructive way?

You don’t have to apologize or feel shameful about feeling jealous or uncomfortable. You’re entitled to your emotions and we all experience jealousy — especially when it’s exacerbated by millions of fans.

If you feel jealous, admit it to yourself first. Rather than bashing your partner or criticizing the third party, admit that you feel threatened. Then consider whether or not you can self-soothe; can you use logic to assuage your own jealousy. You may also want to turn to your partner and ask for their reassurance.

How can you reassure a partner who might be feeling uncomfortable or jealous?

Validate their feelings first. Let them know that you acknowledge their feelings and understand why they might be upset.

You don’t have to apologize for your behaviour if it’s a part of your job. And you don’t have to apologize for other people’s contributions to the situation (e.g. the Twitterverse insisting that you’re f*cking).

Offer reassurance and love. Show them in a way that makes sense to them — words, commitment of time, physical affection or acts of service; you know how they receive love, so be sure to speak their language.


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