EMOTIONAL INFIDELITY: ARE YOU GUILTY?
Sexual infidelity is pretty much straight forward. Someone in a relationship engages in some sort of sexual activity out of it and shit goes down. Emotional infidelity as a construct isn’t as clear; however, it can be destructive to a relationship and more so because of it is so hard to identify.
Emotional infidelity is any situation that creates or causes some degree of emotional unavailability on the part of one partner that interferes with one particular aspect of the relationship, along with the quality of the relationship as a whole. In simpler words, it’s a crush that is reciprocated but not acted upon.
Also, emotional affairs can start out pretty innocently but spiral into a destructive factor to a relationship. You meet someone new and you seem to just hit it off. You’re cracking jokes, sending texts, and subtly flirting from time to time. All symptoms strikingly similar to a start of a romantic relationship, the only problem being, one or both of the people are already in a relationship.
Once you begin to get into it, boundaries start to blur and it can be difficult to tell exactly when you’re stepping over it. So here is a guide to emotional infidelity: what it is, what it isn’t and what to do if you have a sneaking suspension you’re having an emotional affair. Here are the signs that you need to look out for.
- Unlike a platonic friendship, there’s sexual chemistry between the two of you — and there’s definitely some fantasies playing out in your head.
- You may share unflattering details about your relationship with this new person — and naturally, you don’t say a word about any of this to your significant other.
- You reach out to the person because you find a need to feel connected.
- At some point, your actual partner can’t possibly compare with the other man or woman in your life. In many cases you begin to have a bias and start seeing this other person in a good light your partner in a negative light, even becoming annoyed or frustrated with them
SIGNS YOU’VE CROSSED THE LINE
- You spend a lot of emotional energy on the person.You end up sharing stuff that you don’t even share with your partner — hopes and dreams, things that would actually connect you to your partner.
- You dress up for that person.
- You make a point to find ways to spend time together, and that time becomes very important to you.
- You’d feel guilty if your partner saw you together; you are doing things and saying things that you would never do or say in front of your spouse.
- You share your feelings of relationship or marital dissatisfaction.
- You’re keeping secret the amount of time you’re spending with the person (including emailing, calling, texting).
- You start to feel dependent on the emotional high that comes with the relationship.
BUT AT LEAST I HAVEN’T ENGAGED IN ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, SO IT’S NOT CHEATING. RIGHT?
Hold your horses buddy; it isn’t as easy as that. Whether you are physically engaged with another person or not, when you absent yourself from your primary relationship you are taking your attention away from that relationship in a way that interferes with it.
The notion that you’re not exactly cheating is what usually complicates matters more because the “cheating” partner usually feels like he/she isn’t doing anything wrong. That leaves the other partner in the curious position of experiencing all of the hurt, anger and sense of rejection associated with an affair, while the “cheater” shrugs it off.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE
You’re in a bit of a pickle, aren’t you? But the good news is (hopefully), things haven’t escalated to a physical level. You can actually stop and retract from the quasi-relationship and put effort into your primary relationship.
However, there might be an underlying problem in your relationship that has led to this emotional vulnerability. Only after you address the weaknesses in your relationship can you bring stable footing to your relationship and start infusing it with the love, attention, appreciation, and affection you and your partner both deserve.
If you’re not willing to work things out, then it might be time to reevaluate your entire relationship.
CAN YOU STILL MAINTAIN A RELATIONSHIP WITHOUT IT HAMPERING YOUR PRIMARY RELATIONSHIP?
Of course. But that all depends on the situation. You need to find the root cause of the problem that has brought this on and then work on strengthening your primary relationship.
It is ok to make new friendships as long as you clearly know the boundaries and are not constantly tempted to overstep them. Furthermore, you need to maintain transparency with your partner. Your partner should be aware of the conversations that are happening and you both need to be clear about what the boundaries and limits are of that new relationship. Just be sure you’re not taking attention away from the closeness you should be nurturing at home. The bottom line is, we all know the difference between a friend and somebody that is more than a friend.