Third-party Threat to Your Relationship

Your partner’s attention is beginning to fade away. You feel the withdrawal with little or no idea about what is going on. Your partner may not be having a full-on affair or actively engaged in infidelity, but he or she might be being led away by a third-party threat to your relationship.

What is happening is that your partner is engaging in another type of relationship with a “friend” which is appearing to increase in value as this friendship deepens. The third-party may actually be innocent enough but is far more often intentionally “grooming” your partner to serve their intimate and possibly even evil desires.

Grooming is a process used by sexual predators, psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, and other toxic individuals to lure victims away from their primary relationship and they create an emotional bond with the victim which grows until it takes precedence over your relationship, then the predator exerts whatever plan they have carefully prepared for.

It starts off so apparently innocently, as the predator will exploit any potential topic of interest which is meaningful to your partner, their next potential victim. The key is to gradually become your partner’s most beloved friend, to slowly over time cause your partner to trust the predator more than you.

They will use any variety of ways to attach themselves to their prospective victim. Opportunities might be to offer support in your partner’s interests, especially if he or she can find one that you may not be expressing a great deal of interest in. They create common ground to form the foundation of the relationship which is the basis of this seemingly innocent relationship which will be increasingly exploitative unbeknownst to the victim as they are slowly enveloped and entrapped, not unlike quicksand.

Exclusivity is an important component of this predatory relationship. They will build confidence with the victim insisting that they share sensitive information that would be not shared with any other human being.

After the foundation has been laid, the predator insists that the relationship be regarded as highly sophisticated and allowed to flourish under an umbrella of secrecy, as “normal” people may not understand the innocent nature of this relationship, and might think that there may be a sexual component which there is clearly not (at least not yet).

Then the predator establishes “importance” above any other existing relationships in the victim’s life, for no one, not his/her husband/wife, friends, family, coworkers, mentor, or priest can be trusted as much as this snake in the grass, and in time the natural cognition of the victim can be worn-down, until they feel this connection deep inside, in the most sensitive areas of their being.

Later, the predator will attempt to exploit the victim’s inner circle, like showing up and work, or “running into them by accident” when the potential victim is out with friends and/or family. As they get to get exposed to these people, using misdirection, this person will begin to cause the victim to question the trustworthiness of these individuals who may be seeking to exploit him or her.

Clues to your partner’s being manipulated by such a third-party snake might include

You don’t know why it feels like your connection to your partner is fading away, he or she seems to admire you less, and is beginning to criticize you more.

Your notice your partner talking more and more about a new friend or reconnecting with an old friend and recounts comments or observations which appear to be meaningful.

Unusual technology behaviors like increased security measures regarding telephone, computer, and other communications devices may indicate the preservation of “secret” communications.

Your partner may be developing new interest in activities and/or projects which may require time away from home.

Your partner may be staying late at work, or you notice he or she is making more time to spend with “the boys” before coming home, may be spending weekends on special assignments, training, or taking classes.

Once you become aware of this it is time to open a line of communication with your partner about what might be distracting him or her from your relationship. It is perfectly fine for you to express concerns about your feeling that your connection is fading away. Just make sure that you do not become accusatory. Just express your feelings and allow your partner to respond.

Be prepared for your partner to respond with how innocent this relationship is, becoming defensive, insisting that “nothing is going on,” and accusing you of accusing him or her of having an affair and insinuating that there is sexual infidelity (which you have been careful to avoid). Simply and calmly re-state your assertion that you are not accusing anyone of anything, just noticing changes and seeking to reconnect with your partner in love.

Keep the line of communication open and non-threatening.

This is the beginning. If you have caught it in time, you may be able to rekindle your relationship and foil the plans of the person who is trying to set your partner free from your relationship.

A qualified relationship coach can help you and your partner work through the issues and identify and deal with the third-party threat to your relationship.

Be aware that even if this is only an emotional affair and there has been no sexual component, you may agree with so many who have lost someone they love to such a predator, that the damage to your relationship and your heart is far more severe than had it just been a sexual affair. Note that your partner will also feel the same way when he or she awakens to the fact that they have been duped, exploited, and victimized.

Is Your Partner Being Unfaithful?

What if your spouse or partner is sneaking around behind your back and not being forthcoming with details? Is your partner being unfaithful? Does it mean he or she is having an affair?

When you notice that your beloved’s behavior does not seem to be congruent with the intensity of the relationship that you think the two of you share, definitely something is going on. Is your partner cheating on you?

It’s not a good idea to jump to conclusions at the first sight of inconsistencies in your relationship. But when you notice things are not as they appear, or you’re feeling like something’s wrong, it is time to start paying more attention to what is going on.

And keep in mind that all affairs are not equal. Keep in mind that infidelity is not just sexual, as there are many types of infidelity, and your partner may be having an emotional affair, not necessarily a sexual affair.

So, what are some of the signs that might cause blips on your radar of suspicion?

Secrecy

Anything that looks or feels like secrecy, specifically things that go on in your partner’s life that you are intentionally made unaware of. What is he or she hiding? And why?

It makes any normal person wonder, what’s up?

Does there seem to be some secrecy surrounding the phone? Is there a regular practice of deleting texts, caller ID numbers, or emails?

Is there regular and lengthy telephonic, electronic, or face-to-face communication with “a friend” taking place in your absence?

This is almost always an indication that something’s going on behind the scenes, especially when you feel like this activity is going on behind your back. At the very least, this is indicative of an emotional affair.

At the very least, you can be certain that trust is eroding rapidly, or may no longer exist.

If your partner is reluctant to put a stop to the extracurricular conversation and relationship, this is a good indicator that your relationship is in trouble. You already know that if he or she seems to accommodate your wishes to no longer contact but then takes it to another deeper level of secrecy, you’re in real trouble.

If your partner refuses to cutoff an outside relationship that may be causing conflict in your relationship, you know that this person has more value to your partner than you do.

Do Not Accuse

Your first response to becoming suspicious or aware of inconsistencies in your relationship is not to accuse or respond negatively to your partner. Don’t start stalking or going through their personal belongings looking for clues of an affair. Just don’t do it. If you get caught trying to catch your mate sneaking around – and nothing’s going on – and you get caught doing so, it will not reflect well on you. Nothing good could come from that.

Do Share

Your relationship is about sharing your lives one with the other, it is totally appropriate to share your feelings, being certain to begin your statements, not with, “You,” but rather with, “I feel…”

Admit that your feelings are causing you to draw conclusions which may be wrong, and invite him or her to explain.

You are allowed to have feelings. Also be aware that your feelings may mislead you or cause you to come to conclusions that are less than rational. This usually heavily influenced by your past and may have little or nothing to do with this relationship. Nonetheless, you are still entitled to have feelings.

If you are accusatory and your accusations are unfound, then you can do some inner work to see what is there under your skin that might be making you feel suspicious about your partner.

Note your partner’s response. If he or she responds in a respectful, caring and concerned response, there is hope and your fears may have been unfounded. On the other hand, if your partner laughs at you, makes fun about how ridiculous your feelings are, and especially, if your partner counters with accusing you of having an affair (which means he or she probably is)…  There is not much for you to work with. You could do far better, regardless if there’s an affair going on or not.

If your partner admits that he or she was pursuing someone else’s attention, this kind of open transparency, honesty, is the best possible outcome, and can open the relationship to another level of intimacy.

Emotional Affair

While there are many types of infidelity, the emotional affair is that gray-area type of infidelity which is vague enough to be implicitly deniable, while counter-accusing any partner who might be picking up on cues that something might not be quite right in the relationship of being paranoid, insecure or over-reactive.

How could someone possible accuse you of being unfaithful when you haven’t actually, “done anything?” You can’t figure out what your partner is upset about.

As insignificant as the emotional affair might seem on the surface because, after all, “It’s not like it’s a sexual affair,” but the damage can be just as significant to an otherwise healthy loving relationship. You might already know that quite often an emotional affair is the gateway to a sexual affair.

Let’s break it down and see if you’re having an emotional affair, or not?

Ask yourself these questions,

Are you having conversations with this third-party that you would prefer that your partner was not aware of?

Are you disclosing negative information or details about your partner, or your relationship with your partner with this third party, “in confidence?”

Do you secretly fantasize (even if it’s never been voiced) that this third party might be a more supportive romantic partner than yours?

Okay, maybe it started innocently enough, but you are feeling the connection that you’re not feeling at home. Who could blame you for wanting that sense of connection? After all, it’s what we’re all looking for, and the longer this is allowed to go on the more essential energy, which fuels your relationship and home, is drained.

That is the crux of the problem at home; you’ve (either one or both of you have) let things erode which will always seem to make the grass look so much greener on the other side of the fence.

The good news is, you’re right. If haven’t crossed the line of actually crossed the line and engaged in sexual infidelity, then there is still hope for the relationship and the potential love waiting for you at home.

This is the perfect time talk about it and to mend fences at home before all your livestock runs amok. With openness, honesty, and humility, you can share with your partner about how this third-party conversation is going.

The truth of the matter is, the fact that you’re entertaining this kind of emotional affair, which may or may not include some open flirtation, is a signal and a sign that things are lacking at home and there is room for improvement.

There is hope that you can rebuild your relationship with your partner, have an open discussion about how things got to be the way they are today and find ways to rekindle the love that you once shared which has waned of late, making you vulnerable to compromise.

You need to come clean with full disclosure about how your attention has been diverted and find ways to establish clear boundaries that you and your partner can agree on, which should include the ability to mention to your partner at the earliest possible moment when you catch your attention wandering.

This is not about accusing anyone of anything or trying to make someone feel bad, it’s about seeing this wandering attention as a sign that it’s time to open up to your partner and draw closer in love.

If you’ve determined this doesn’t sound like a viable option to you, like the work on your relationship is not worth it, then maybe it’s time for you to have a different kind of conversation with your partner and move on.

An Affair of a Different Technology

When trust is lost in a relationship, how are you to recover from the broken sacred bond between two people?

In my work with couples, I have seen breaches of trust, that may not look like much on the surface but left to itself, like droplets of water over time, can erode and naturally cut a canal between a couple’s otherwise potentially healthy terrain.

One such subject of erosion is tied to emerging technology which is greatly impacting our lives and may be causing our real relationships to erode as we seek more temporal relationships found via social networking and cell phone communication.

There is an addition to this emerging media which allows people to bond with other people without the risk of a face-to-face component, reducing the fear of rejection or failure that is ever looming over a live interaction between two people. The technology buffer helps to protect us, and give us a false sense of safety, as we carry on online or via cell or another device.

You see the erosion in a coupled relationship begin (albeit barely noticeable at the outset) when one of the parties begins to spend more time communicating and engaging with their virtual friends or mates, than their real-life partner.

When examined, it all seems so innocent, as it’s just a bit of sending funny pictures or videos, just exchanging jokes for a little laugh, nothing really harmful in itself, while some of them may well be members of the opposite sex, and may also be a threat to the current partner, or not.

When approached or challenged about your virtual relationships, if you protest and justify your actions with,

“It’s not like I’m having sex, or anything…”

then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already compromised your current relationship, and if you continue, it will only get worse.

Why do you think your partner queried you about your virtual relationships?

Could it be that he or she feels that your virtual relationships are a threat to the sacred bond which holds a committed couple together? Why do you think he or she might feel that way?

And why are you so defensive about defending your right to carry on with your virtual relationships?

I will tell you why, because in that moment, when you defend your virtual friends, you further compromise the relationship, by indirectly stating,

“My virtual friends mean more to me than our relationship.”

I know it sounds crazy, but think back to the early stages when you were developing the relationship that you’re in now; what kind of things did you talk about with your prospective mate?

When you move this intimate communication component to relationships outside of your current one, the effects are equivalent to having an affair. While the affair may not possess a sexual component yet, and may never go there, the emotional breach has already taken place and can be even harder to recover from than a sexual transgression.

So, when you’re reaching out to your virtual friends with conversations about your problems, or the latest happenings, observations, concerns and struggles going on in your life, this is robbing your real-life relationship of the glue which bonds the two of you together. As it continues to deteriorate, and you reach further and further outside your relationship for comfort or connection, the relationship deteriorates and falls apart.

I’m not saying all casual relationships turn into a wild, sexual affair, only that in a relationship between two intimately connected individuals, the connection is broken when you turn your attention about the intimate (not necessarily sexual) details of your life away from your partner and toward someone else.

Think about this; when you get wind of a good joke, catch a meme that tickles your funny bone, hear a good bit of gossip, or catch a breaking news headline, who do you first report it to? Virtual friends, or coworkers? If so, you’re giving away your relationship adhesive. Even if you feign the attempt to share it with your partner after work, you’ve told and retold it enough that it has lost its impact or flavor, it once had when it was fresh.

Do you enjoy a little harmless flirtation with members of the opposite sex at work, online, or via text?

Have you ever shared intimate details about your life, or your relationship, with someone of the opposite sex, in person or via other communication devices?

If you have, the adhesive is continuing to erode. If this energy was turned toward your partner, you know it would bring you closer together, but now you’ve basically turned your back on (or at least your attention away from) your mate, and putting this energy in the hands of someone else.

Even if nothing transpires physically between you and this other person, you have compromised your bond and transferred the bonding agent to someone else.

I have been helping couples for years, and even though current technology makes this sharing of sacred energy even easier, believe me, there are plenty of other ways to give your energy away, and it’s been going on for as long as there has been coupling, its nothing new.

The only way to keep it from destroying your relationship is to stop doing it.

And if the mere thought of giving up this innocuous relationship seems offensive to you, that in itself is proof that it is not as benign a relationship as you might think. Not to mention that a key component of grooming someone is to develop a deep, non-threatening emotional attachment over time (which is a whole different subject altogether, but does rear its ugly head in circumstances when the attention of one of the individuals in a relationship allows their attention to stray).

“But,” you say (they all do), “There’s nothing going on here, this person is meaningless to me and it is not damaging my relationship.” Okay, if that’s true, then just stop it.

Stopping this type of emotional affair and returning your attention to your partner, could be the most important thing you could do to save your relationship from its being reduced to little more than ash.