An emotional affair is a romantic liason without sex….
that often involves attraction, intimacy, attention and growing interest, and exclusion of your primary partner from this ‘friendship’. Renown relationship therapist and author of “Chatting or Cheating”, Dr Sheri Meyers helps you determine if you are on a path to trouble!
In a nutshell, what is an emotional affair? How is it any different than a close, platonic friendship?
An emotional affair is essentially an affair of the heart, said Sheri Meyers, a marriage therapist and the author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.
“All of this drains energy from your primary relationship,” Meyers said. “If you’re fantasizing, having intimate talks and sharing things you should only be sharing with your primary partner or sending late night ‘just thinking of you’ flirty texts, you’re not just having an innocent friendship.”
Eventually you may become more deeply invested in imagining what could be with this person, said David Wygant, a dating and relationship coach.
“Even though you’re not sleeping with him or her, there’s flirting and definitely something going on,” he said. “You’re reaching out to this person because you really need to feel connected.”
At some point, your actual partner can’t possibly compare with the other man or woman in your life, said Gal Szekely, the founder of the Couples Center for therapy in Northern California.
“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,” he explained.
So by that definition, I’m not having an emotional affair if we’re just friends, right?
Of course it’s OK to maintain some privacy and forge new friendships while in a relationship. You just want to establish boundaries and maintain transparency with your partner, Szekely said.
“Your partner should be aware that these conversations are happening and you both need to be clear about what the boundaries and limits are of that new relationship,” he said.
Meyers agreed. “Just be sure you’re not taking attention away from the closeness you should be nurturing at home.”
And ultimately, you should be able to tell if your behavior is veering on the shady side, Wygant said.
“The bottom line is, we all know the difference between a friend and somebody we crave,” he said. “There is no borderline.”
OK, got it. But now I think I might be having an emotional affair. Help!
If you recognize yourself in the descriptions above, the good news is you haven’t taken the relationship to a physical level yet. You can press pause on your budding quasi-relationship, disengage and work on your actual relationship, said Meyers.
“Having any sort of affair is usually a symptom of an underlying problem in your life and in your relationship,” she said. “Something is missing that makes you vulnerable to temptation.”
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,” Meyers said.
And if you’re not willing to fix what’s wrong in your existing problems, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship status, said Wygant.
“Be honest with yourself,” he said. “Are you satisfied in the relationship and if not, are you able to communicate with your partner about why you aren’t? Ask yourself: Am I willing to work on the relationship — or am I just going to have a series of emotional affairs until I finally end the relationship?”