A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.Mignon McLaughlin
Emotional intimacy is what most of us long for. Moreover, for some, emotional connection is like breathing, impossible to live without. And sometimes, if we are not finding that deep connection within our marriage, or exclusive relationship, we may look outside for it.
Emotional infidelity is defined as “when one partner goes outside the primary relationship to get his or her emotional needs met.” And though it may not sound as damaging as a physical or sexually intimate affair, its repercussions are often just as severe for both members of a relationship.
Reasons For Entering Into An Emotional Affair
The allure of an emotional affair is very real. It is hard work to make a marriage thrive, and it’s often easier to get our feelings of validation from someone new and interesting, someone who really “gets” us.
We may feel as if the other person sees us sexually or intellectually stimulating, and not as the role we have assigned ourselves in our marriages (the earner, the mother, the martyr…) And, of course, we don’t have to discuss any of the “boring” things of a marriage with them, like whose turn it is to cook, or pay the water bill, or take Bobby to soccer practice. Real life doesn’t intrude as much on these types of relationships, which only makes them seem all the more exciting.
Most often an emotional affair begins quite innocently. Most people are not even actively seeking this sort of intimacy, it just kind of happens. We may start to talk to someone at work, on the soccer field or at a committee meeting. Often it begins by just simply interacting, moving from a friendship into something more. Sometimes the emotional relationship doesn’t even contain much face to face contact at all, and could all be happening via email and text. However it is no less of an emotional affair.
Often what happens is that we begin to feel “filled up” emotionally by this connection in a way that is not occurring in our primary relationship or marriage. Emotional connection may have been experienced with our partner early on, however no more, or may never have been experienced at all.
We May Find Ourselves Surprised To Be Participating In An Emotional Affair ...
... Never having thought that we would be unfaithful in any way to our partner. And because it doesn’t have a sexual component, then it doesn’t seem to be quite as dangerous. However, an emotional relationship can soon turn physical (and is, in fact, the way most sexual affairs begin.)
Regardless of the lack of sexual contact, though, it can still be devastating to our partners when they discover this other relationship.
Even if the infidelity is 'only' emotional, it often leads to a double life of deception and sexuality, threatening once secure marriages.Doctor Shirley Glass, clinical psychologist and author
That's Why Your Own Personal Checklist Can Help
Consider using the checklist in my article to help determine if you are having an emotional affair.
My Wish For You Today ...
... Is that you take time to remember one of the many reasons you were attracted to your partner or spouse.
Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director