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THE TRUTH ABOUT EMOTIONAL AFFAIRS
You would be shocked at the number of lies, myths, and the variety of excuses associated with infidelity.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I feel I can’t be shocked, yet over and over again, I’m surprised by the ingenuity of wayward partners. Certain people seem to possess a yearning for deception and will almost always find a way to rationalize their behavior. They say almost anything to prove their “deception” was actually taking the high road… that somehow “lying” was better than hurting another’s feelings.
The following is a short list of the biggest myths/excuses we have come across:
FACT: Actually, most partners are faithful.
FACT: Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce.
FACT: No one can “cause” another to cheat, lie or deceive.
FACT: Many couples stay together and actually emerge stronger.
FACT: Guilt (whether unconscious or conscious) never brings out the best in anyone.
FACT: Secrets block intimacy and lack of intimacy hurts BOTH partners.
FACT: Emotional affairs are just as dangerous, deceptive, and painful as physical affairs.
The EA (Emotional Affair) is the NEW testing ground for monogamy. Many partners who never intended to be unfaithful unwittingly cross the road from platonic friendships into emotional affairs, with all the innocence of a deer crossing a dark road. Many people never see the damaging emotional impact… until it’s way too late.
What is an emotional affair?
Emotional affairs often begin when there is a feeling of greater emotional intimacy and “understanding” being perceived from a person outside of a primary relationship. Often, there’s unwillingness to acknowledge that a sexual attraction is beginning to take place.
This results in secrecy and denial that becomes very damaging to the trust, intimacy, and honesty which may have taken years to build.
The REAL trouble with emotional affairs is the level of intimacy that develops.
Like a deer crossing a dark road, many people don’t see the danger of an emotional affair… until it’s too late.
Intimacy isn’t about sex (although sex can be a tool to enhance intimacy). Intimacy is really about “trust” and the ability to share your inner self with someone else. This is the “key” that unlocks the doors to the deepest parts of our being.
When this kind of intimacy is created between two people, a third thing emerges. This is called “emotional bonding”. Depending on the degree of the bond and the strength of the emotional connection, many faithful spouses find themselves over their heads.
Why is emotional bonding outside of your primary relationship dangerous?
The answer is found in the bumper sticker mentioned earlier: “Don’t believe everything you think.”
Which points to one possibility: Our mind has the ability to seduce us.
Thoughts become things.
Once you allow your mind to focus on building deeper emotional connections with someone outside your primary relationship… even if it’s all in your head, it’s only a matter of time until those thoughts seek to manifest into reality.
Common Breeding Grounds for Emotional Affairs:
- Internet/online conversations
- Workplace proximity
- Trade shows, conventions, business trips
- Groups of people who share hobbies
- Friendships with the opposite sex
- Friendships with the same sex
Just Friends Vs. Romantic Relationships
Am I saying that all friendships have the potential to become emotional affairs? No, not at all. Let’s look at the difference more closely.
What is the recipe for an Emotional Affair?
High feelings of connection and understanding
+ Secrecy and denial or deception
+ Sexual attraction and/or sexual chemistry
= EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
These are the links in the chain that make up an Emotional Affair (EA).
Remove one or more of the links and break the chain, and all you have is a simple, platonic friendship.
The main difference in EAs is found in the fact that even though physical sex hasn’t happened, the “emotional transference” has. This means you’ve begun redirecting your emotional energy toward a person outside of your primary relationship.
How Emotional Affairs Develop
It ALWAYS starts with a conversation. It’s the contact, the sharing of ideas, and the exchange of mutual interest, thoughts and feelings.
Here’s the typical process:
- You find a person who’s easy and fun to talk to (could be online or in person).
- Before you know it, you’re sharing the BIG THREE inner worlds.
- Your Fantasies
- Your Wants
- Your Needs
- For some inexplicable reason, you feel it’s safe to “confide” these things to this individual. Sometimes, you reveal things you may never have shared with your true partner.
- He/she is more understanding than you would have imagined. This opens the way for you to share your dark side: your fears, concerns and secret troubles.
- They listen without judgment — offering advice that seem so wise and intelligent.
- You begin to cherish the time you spend together. You feel you’ve found a friend — someone who “understands you”, appreciates your quirky sense of humor and still doesn’t judge you.
- You have now admitted them into your “inner world”. You find yourself thinking of them at random times during the day.
- Now the classic “compare and contrast” begins as you often think, “why can’t my partner be more like him/her?”
- Next, your future conversations and meetings take on an even more “secretive” and seductive air. The sexual tension heightens. You behave differently around them when your partner or others are around.
- Secrets and deception begin. Since privacy is paramount and romance is in the air, you wouldn’t want your partner overhearing or having access to conversations you have with this person.
- Your preferences and priorities begin to shift. Now, you find yourself wanting to spend more and more time with them. You want to share even more of yourself with them. Your thoughts, your feelings, and yes… even your body.
Watch out for the WAKE-UP CALL. (It’s just around the corner.)
At this point, you’re lost in the EMOTIONAL FOG of a full-fledged affair. Emotions are like smoke. They can create a thick fog that surrounds you one minute, and completely disappears the next.
Beware that as sweet, as real, and as compelling as the emotional fog may feel… it’s still an illusion (especially since it’s created from secrecy and deception).
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
Don’t resist it. At the same time, don’t allow your thoughts and feelings to fuel the fog any further. Fantasy and secrets are very powerful. They throw gasoline on the fire.
However, once you come clean with yourself, all the “secrecy” and deception are quickly removed.
The only thing left is Reality (a great place to return to).
First things first …
Talk about it. Don’t hide it. Don’t deny it. Don’t ignore it.
Remember this: whatever you hide, you strengthen. If you want clarity (which you need in order to make honest discoveries), then you have to shed light on the situation. Of course, the ideal person to talk to is your partner. However, since emotional affairs are more likely to occur in relationships in which intimacy and honesty levels are low, here’s a suggestion to help pave the way.
Tips to Help You Talk to Your Partner About Your Emotional Affair
If you’re unsure how your partner will respond to the idea that you may be involved in an emotional affair, click on one of the share links to send them a copy of this article.
This will help them have a better understanding of what an emotional affair is all about. It will help them to clearly see that emotional affairs can happen to anyone. The key to recovery is for BOTH of you to focus on “solutions” rather than blame.
How do you get out of an emotional affair?
3 Steps to Help You Get Out of an Emotional Involvement
“Trying” to get yourself out of the fog is the first step to actually getting out.
If you find you can’t talk to your partner (a major red flag in itself, by the way), then your next best option is to talk to a professional like myself, a “safe” friend, or maybe even your priest or minister.
Sever all contact.
You MUST be careful and be patient with yourself.
This is a process of unraveling an emotional entanglement. It’s like backing out of a dark cave filled with sleeping lions. You must reverse your steps slowly, carefully, and deliberately. Doing this correctly requires you to be patient, persistent and gentle.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Partner Is Having an Emotional Affair
Maybe you’ve already seen the signs, and rather than simply standing by, watching the person you love self-destruct, you’ve decided to do something. Good for you!
Here’s my advice:
Don’t assume anything physical has been consummated.
This is a fatal error made by many betrayed partners. By jumping to this conclusion, too many people wind up signing their own relationship “death warrant”.
Once a partner feels “damned” for something he or she hasn’t actually done, it tends to leave the door open for them to actually go through with it.
They figure, “What the hell, I’m already getting blamed for this. I might as well do it.”
You would be surprised how much of a role the accuser plays in all this. Overreacting or “finger pointing” is a big mistake betrayed partners often make. They allow themselves to become so “negative” or “fear-ridden”, they wind up pushing their spouse further down the slippery slope of becoming more involved in an emotional affair.
5 Things You Can Do to STOP a Partner's Emotional Affair
1. Speak up about it.
Passive partners get left behind. Being passive about any kind of infidelity is the quickest way to find yourself standing in the aftermath of “what used to be”. It’s NOT fair, but as we all know, life never promised to be fair.
You have to be willing to confront without accusing. Be assertive without being aggressive. Talk to your partner about the warning signs that have come to your attention. Point them to this page if you need to, but don’t accuse them of being anything but the “best” they can be. (90% of wayward partners are doing their best to keep from drowning in the ocean of their own emotions.)
2. Set your boundaries and state your “deal breakers”.
Make it very clear to your partner that you’re not sure the marriage would survive an affair. Make sure they understand they’re playing with fire. Make sure they know how devastated you would feel if they left you and/or had an affair.
3. Remind them of the good times.
The one thing the emotional fog blocks is the good times you’ve shared with your partner or spouse. It’s a good idea to remind them with pictures, words, stories and anecdotes. Bring out the scrapbook and family videos if you have to. Tell them how much they mean to you. Be specific. Remind them of all the good times you’ve had together, and keep the focus on this. The reality is, a wayward partner is more likely to come out of the fog for the “good memories” than for anything else.
4. Never supplicate.
Don’t beg, don’t plead, and don’t “yield” for the sake of staying together. As seductive as this tactic may seem… it NEVER works. Why? Because it displays low social value and low self-esteem. Neither of these are attractive traits to anyone. Compared to the confidence and “mystery” of the other person, you may look desperate and unattractive.
5. Stage your own “reseduction” campaign.
It’s the most effective tool against infidelity, and yet it’s the one skill most partners never learn. Many believe that seduction and romance end at the altar. That’s just not the case. BOTH men and women crave attention, affection and appreciation. They BOTH want to feel special, understood, valued and sexually attractive. When those needs are unfulfilled, it leaves a void… just waiting to be filled.
A “reseduction” is entirely different from a new seduction.
It’s easy to “woo” and seduce a partner who doesn’t know you. But what about one who knows all your moves, your jokes, your tactics and techniques? Not so easy, right?
Reseduction takes advanced skills.
It requires being able to make the familiar new again. You have to be able to reestablish the connection, reignite chemistry, and restimulate passion. If all that sounds impossible to you, there’s good news.
You already know how to do it.
You have the triggers, patterns and attracting tendencies they like (that’s why they fell in love with you in the first place). The secret is to be able to call upon those same tendencies (mixed with some new ones) to reawaken interest and redirect their attention back to you.
Here’s another secret …
The partner in the primary relationship has the home court advantage. Many just don’t know how to put it to proper use.
Stake your claim! Don’t let a little competition scare you away.
Even though the newness of being with another person may seem exciting in the moment (especially because of all the “stage lighting” brought on by fantasies and emotions), newness can’t replace a solid foundation. Take a moment to compare the time you’ve already spent building that solid foundation with each other. A genuine comparison seldom measures up. Don’t allow your “pride” or fear to stop you from stepping up and protecting what you have… before it’s too late.
NOW is the time to pull out all the stops and start YOUR re-seduction campaign. Rather than resorting to blame and accusations, ask yourself where you may have left the door open to allow this to happen. Be honest with yourself.
The bottom line?
An emotional affair can hurt just as much as a physical affair does (sometimes, even worse). However, emotional affairs don’t call for judgment or punishment. They call for compassion and understanding.
If you or your loved one feels pulled into the gravitational force of an emotional affair… it’s time to take back control.
If you’re dealing with suspected or confirmed emotional infidelity, then I encourage you to do something that will make a difference.
For more help, read my article The Secret World of Emotional Affairs.
Because a big mistake people often make is to treat emotional affairs the same as they would a physical affair. Don’t make that mistake.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!