Many of the quotes and pieces of advice included in this article are aimed towards men, but it is important to be aware that emotional infidelity can strike either member of a marriage, and over a lifetime will more than likely affect both partners at least once.
Here’s how you can tell when an opposite-sex friendship in the workplace or other location is becoming dangerous. Dangerous indicating that this friendship is bordering on emotional infidelity and could impact your relationship with your spouse.
• You find yourself sharing personal information with the person that you otherwise wouldn’t share with someone else or normally only with your spouse.
• You begin looking for her when you get to work, and find yourself genuinely disappointed when she’s not there.
• You start creating opportunities to be alone with your opposite-sex friend during the workday, such as through non-work related lunch appointments, or lingering too long at their office or cubicle.
• You’re physically attracted to the person, and think about her when you’re not at work.
This is not to say that it is impossible for there to be a platonic friendship between members of the opposite sex. However you must take into consideration if the other person is in a relationship or marriage but is finding herself attracted to you, then you may be inadvertently leading someone else into emotional infidelity.
So, what exactly qualifies as emotional infidelity? Several professionals have voiced an opinion on this subject.
• An emotional affair without sex occurs when two parties share their feelings for each other. These affairs are supercharged with emotion. The sound of her voice, the style of his e-mail —they are all loaded. But if you confront them, they’ll insist they’ve done nothing wrong. These secret emotional affairs are powerful influences in the individuals’ lives. They often live in a fantasy world, where they imagine what the other party is doing, even while appearing to watch sports on TV or doing some other task.
These individuals rob their marriages of emotional energy. They will save topics of conversation to talk over with the people they are having the emotional affair with, rather than their spouses. They also struggle with feelings of betrayal when they have sex with their spouse. But a lot of these emotional affairs remain non-sexual. They are the hardest affairs to recover from, because there is no guilt. (Cindy Crosby, from the article “Why Affairs Happen”)
• Extramarital affairs occur in the mind as well as the bedroom. Lust makes us think that having some person we don’t presently have would make us happier. Often that person is simply a figment of our imagination. Even if the person is real, we often attach character traits to him or her that are not real.
…We imagine someone who is terribly fond of us and who prefers our presence and intimacy over anyone else’s. We imagine that if we had such a person to hold in our arms, it would be exciting and wonderfully fulfilling. This is a terrible deception, for it’s a self-centered form of love and we ignore the devastating consequences of living out our imaginations. (Dr Gary Smalley, from an email sent out June 13, 2007 titled, Tempted to be in an affair?)
You can learn much more about emotional infidelity at Marriage Missions International or contact one of the local Richmond marriage resources such as First Things First of Greater Richmond.