So your spouse may not be having sex with someone else, but they’re spending a whole heck of a lot of time “just” talking, emailing and texting! You may ask “does that count as an affair”? Absolutely! An emotional affair, which is a close, intimate, emotional attachment is still considered an affair—an affair of the heart. And there are telling signs that an emotional affair has your marriage twisted.
It’s a secret relationship in which a commitment is involved, thus creating a form of infidelity. It can all happen quite innocently. Truthfully, most times, it does. But how?
You know that little voice that has tried (or is trying) to caution you to think twice. The little voice sounds like this…
- “Don’t entertain that conversation”
- “It is not a good idea to have lunch with her/him” or
- “Perhaps I should not share that intimate detail of our marriage with him/her”.
These days, emotional affairs start out via Facebook or with an “innocent” friendship in the workplace. We like to think in many cases we are exempt and/or we can handle it because we are strong. We might think, “I got this.” Or we might justify our behaviors with saying to ourselves “what can it hurt?”
Emotional affairs are not harmless!
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Take it from someone who has experience. I have done exactly this and it hurts like hell! Assuming you have a concience and are honest with your spouse, the pain becomes very real very fast.
I get it; these encounters appear innocent, maybe even “safe” replacements to “cheating” on your spouse. But, let’s be clear, the reality is this is still cheating. And, the truth that no one tells us upfront is that these encounters will lead you down the road of possibly destroying your marriage.
“A new crisis of infidelity is emerging in which people who never intended to be unfaithful are unwittingly crossing the line from platonic friendships into romantic relationships” – according to The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
The statement is backed up by alarming statistics conducted through a national poll. While the findings showed that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had sexual affairs, it was also revealed that an additional 20 percent of married couples have been impacted by emotional infidelity.
Let me drop some wisdom. Not everyone actually cheats intentionally! Neither my husband nor I planned to cheat. Don’t get me wrong; there are some folks who knowingly choose to start having physical affairs outside of their marriage. However, there are a surprising number of people who are just lonely, seeking friendship, have yet to identify their unresolved issues and they don’t actually realize that they’ve invested more in this “other” person emotionally than with their spouse. That’s the beginning of an emotional affair.
They’re not bad people, but they are seeking comfort with someone other than their spouse.
Here are 18 very telling signs that your so-called friendship is entering the not-so-gray area of emotional infidelity:
- You put way more effort into your appearance for him/her than your spouse.
- You lie to your spouse about talking to and/or seeing him/her.
- You do thoughtful things for him/her that you do not do for your spouse.
- You are spending way more time with him/her than your spouse.
- You’re texting (or even sexting) with him/her while trying to keep it secret from your spouse.
- You laugh more with him/her than your spouse.
- You think about him/her more than your spouse
- You compare your spouse to him/her in unfavorable ways.
- You impatiently anticipate your next meeting with him/her.
- You feel more understood by him/her rather than your own spouse.
- You reassure yourself and other people, “we’re just friends.”
- You feel uncomfortable when your spouse says something about him/her (assuming your spouse knows them).
- You tell him/her things about yourself that you have not shared with your spouse.
- You tell “little white lies” intentionally to your spouse to talk to and/or see him/her.
- You are distracted when he/she is around.
- You show off for him/her.
- Your emotions are growing more powerful and intense for him/her.
- You feel more alive when he/she is around (or merely thinking about him/her).
Now What? Well, here’s my advice to my clients. The first step to ending any affair (even an emotional one) is to be honest with yourself and admit this is an affair! It is not usually realistic or suggested to “simply” return back to being “just” friends. The best course of action in most cases is to cut ties with your crush completely.
You may be split on whether you should tell your spouse that you’ve been crushing on someone else. One thing is clear: You wouldn’t have had such a soul connection with your crush if there weren’t unresolved issues in your marriage. It is vital to address those problems and take steps to enhance the emotional connection in your actual marriage. I highly recommend attending couples therapy, which can help you both sort out your feelings under the guidance of a trained professional.
There will always be someone who catches your eye as long as you’re searching for one. If you’ve been looking, the best thing you can do is admit it to yourself and figure out why you’re doing so in the first place. In that case, individual therapy, along with couples therapy may not be a bad idea.
BMWK, are you having an emotional affair?