What Emotional Affairs are and Why They’re Dangerous

by | May 22, 2012

When things are tough, it can be hard to admit you need help. That’s when you need safe, reliable Orange County relationship counseling that can heal issues and problems in a calm, productive environment.

People who are having emotional affairs often convince themselves whatever is going on between them and another person is fine. There’s no intimacy, no touching, no sex – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an affair nevertheless. An emotional affair can be just as dangerous as a physical affair – putting emotional energy towards a person that isn’t your spouse can cause long term and everlasting damage to any relationship. In fact, more people are upset about breaking the rules of trust than they are when a partner has sex with someone else.

It’s very rare for a person who’s in an emotional fair to feel like they’re cheating. They tell themselves things like, “this is just a really good friendship,” and it makes them feel good so they feel like they would be cheating themselves out of a great friendship if they were to walk away. So where’s the line between a good friendship with a member of the sex you’re attracted to and an affair that could destroy your marriage?

How to Know When You’re Cheating Emotionally

Pinpointing the exact time when you’re cheating emotionally isn’t always an art, but there are some pretty obvious signs that you aren’t being honest with yourself or your spouse.

You do something with another person you would never do in front of your spouse. Say you go out to eat with a coworker with friends. It is likely if your spouse wished to go to an event like that, he or she would be welcome to come. However, what if that lunch was one on one with a person that, in a different universe, you may be compatible with? Would you want your spouse to be there? With some people the answer is “sure, absolutely,” but when the answer is “no,” there may be a problem. This goes for all actions done with someone you would want to hide from your spouse.

You share with the other person things you do not share with your partner. We all have moments of frustration with our significant others, and sometimes we vent to our friends about how things are difficult at the time. Eventually these things are said to our partners and problems are worked out (or you find yourself in Orange County counseling). However, when we start to share things with another person because we feel they “understand” us better than our partners, then we could be heading towards a dangerous zone.

You specifically hide conversations and private meetings with another person from your significant other. There is a difference between going out to lunch with a friend and letting your spouse know where you are and lying about it. If you find yourself telling your spouse you’re going somewhere that you’re not so they don’t know you’re meeting the person you are actually meeting, you may be in the middle of an emotional affair.

The other person makes you “feel good” or they “feel right in your life”. There are many things we think we have to have, and sometimes other people give those things to us. Some of those things are completely appropriate, such as friendship and a buddy to golf with on the weekends. However, sometimes those things are emotional as well. A good example is compliments that make us feel good. Sometimes things aren’t perfect in our marriage and another person tells us how great and wonderful we are and how we deserve better, or sometimes they just compliment our intelligence or smile. Enough of this ego boosting can make you feel like your spouse doesn’t appreciate you when in fact they do, just not in the same way. It can also make an otherwise solid marriage feel like it’s shaky.

How to Head Off an Emotional Affair

Remember, seeking a marriage counselor in Orange County is no shame whatsoever – if you need extra help, you should get it. Relationships aren’t always perfect and sometimes extra information can save a couple a lot of strife. However, there are a few tips that can help you head off an emotional affair so it will be easier to work things out with your spouse.

Be aware of the state of your marriage. The easiest way to keep yourself safe is to realize when your marriage is in trouble so you can head off any affair, emotional or otherwise, that may be looming in the side wings.

Don’t hang out with the people who you may be attracted to in some way. It’s easy to want to be around the people who may have been a potential partner if we weren’t already in a relationship, especially if we feel they give us something our spouses don’t. Resist the temptation to ever hang out with these people and always respectfully keep your distance.

Don’t flirt on purpose. Being cute and flirty can be fun in a social setting, and sometimes you’re just being friendly with someone you know, but really, there shouldn’t be flirting outside of a relationship and if there is, it should be discussed on fair and reasonable terms with a spouse beforehand.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.


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