We have a clear understanding of what an affair is and this normally involves sex. Emotional affairs do not involve sex but can be even more damaging.
What is an Emotional Affair?
An emotional affair between two people is a relationship with the closeness and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship without the sex. It often starts with an innocent friendship and grows into intimacy and emotional attachment.
There is normally sharing of intimate aspects of themselves, their relationships and subjects they wouldn’t talk about with their partners.
Emotional affairs are on the increase. Social Media and dating sites make it much easier to connect with strangers. The fact that it is slightly disconnected, and boundaries can be lower means that platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships.
Even when such affairs do not cross the line by becoming physical, the impact can be just as damaging and puts your relationship in the danger zone.
Some partners see an emotional affair as more of a betrayal than ‘just’ sex because of the depth of emotional connection and the sharing of intimate knowledge.
Are you having an Emotional Affair?
Here are ten signs that indicate you probably are:
You are feeling increasingly disconnected from your partner. The good times of connection fade into history and the negatives start to grow
You start to lie to your partner or keep secrets.
You compare your partner to them and get more critical of your partner.
Your partner gets less of your thoughts, affection and time while they get more.
You frequently communicate with this person and at unusual hours.
You discuss very personal topics, such as the problems in your current relationship.
You think about them frequently
You spend less time with your partner. You spend increasing amounts of time communicating with the new person.
They become the first person you want to call with any news.
You start to feel like they really understand you, even better than your partner.
Where is the Line?
There is no absolute line, it is all relative. The key measures to assess if you have crossed your line and your partner’s line are:
What would your partner feel if they heard all your conversations and saw every text, email and other written communication with this person. Would they be shocked, hurt, angry or be OK with it?
If your partner was having similar communication with someone else and you found out; how would you feel?
Is this something you can be open about or having to lie and be secretive?
Where is this emotional affair going? Is it fantasy or does it have a longer-term destination?
What impact is it having on your current relationship? Is it helping or harming?
What should you do if you have crossed the line?
If you have crossed the line; how does that feel? Are you overtaken by the excitement of the deep intimacy or do you want to stop and focus on the relationship with your partner?
You have the following choices:
1. Stop; tell the affair partner that it is over. Explain why, thank them and give them a gentle let down. Hope your partner does not find out. Invest in your current relationship and try and bring this up to the level of intimacy that you were enjoying in the emotional affair.
2. Stop and tell your partner all. That is the open and honest solution and will avoid repercussions if you are found out later. This works best if you choose the right time and can demonstrate regret and a real desire to make your relationship work.
3. Stop and change nothing. This likely to leave you locked in guilt and regret. Your current relationship will probably fade and get worse,
4. Carry on with the emotional affair, see where it goes and hope you don’t get found out. The chances are you will and that may not end well for everyone.
5. Take the emotional affair to the next level and maybe leave your partner. This may not be possible for the affair partner and the thrill and novelty of the emotional affair may not survive the journey into a full-blown relationship.
Neil Wilkie is a Relationship Expert, Psychotherapist, author and creator of the Relationship Paradigm relationshipparadigm.com
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