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.