GOASKSUZIE
tHE LEADING EXPERT ON OVERCOMING INFIDELITY
Ready to Recover?Take a Course

Answers and Advice for Wayward Partners

NEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED WEEKLY

Addicted to Emotional Affairs?

Question

I am in my early 30s and in a deeply loving and healthy relationship for the first time in my life. The sex is amazing, and my significant other completely “gets” me to the point where words don’t always need to be spoken. It’s everything fairy tales have you dream of. MY issue is that, even so it seems I have this insatiable desire to have a sexual relationship with his best friend. (This is not a new issue, I have dealt with it in past relationships; however, I always knew why it occurred. This time around completely baffles me.) Luckily, his best friend doesn’t live nearby, and I haven’t actually had direct contact with him for over a year. Somehow, though, fantasies about him continue to play in my thoughts daily. I have considered the possibility that I have a deep need to be wanted by my significant other’s best friend to reassure myself that I’m still attractive not just to my significant other. I know the consequences, I know the pain it would cause, I know the risks, and none of that is ever wanted of course… but yet the desire to at the very least share a kiss with said best friend remains. I have exhausted all forms of ridding my thoughts of him that I can think of and was wondering what suggestions, if any, you may have. Thank you for your time.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve. After reading your email, I believe several things are at play here, so let’s look at them one at a time.

You wrote: My issue is that even so, it seems I have this insatiable desire to have a sexual relationship with his best friend. (This is not a new issue, I have dealt with it in past relationships, however, I always knew why it occurred. This time around completely baffles me.)

My answer: I have an intuition you might be confusing two separate things here: love and sexual attraction. They’re not the same thing. While they do go well together like peanut butter and jelly, they can also be enjoyed separately. Think about it. People can be sexually attracted to someone (maybe a movie star) and not be in love with them. On the other hand, they can love someone completely (a roommate, for example), yet feel no sexual attraction to them.

So being in love has nothing to do with feeling sexual attraction. But when the two go hand in hand (love and sexual attraction) we call that “romantic love,” and it’s a sweet experience (as you have found out).

Now, here’s the kicker: while love is exclusive, sexual attraction isn’t. You can be deeply in love, yet find any number of people sexually attractive. In other words, love doesn’t protect us from lust.

And here’s another thing: monogamy is NOT natural to us as a species. It’s “normal,” but it’s not instinctive — it’s a choice. And not a choice you make “once” on your wedding day; it’s a choice you have to make every single day of your married life. So, monogamy isn’t for the fickle.

Also, feeling sexual attraction for someone other than your significant other is normal. Everyone experiences it (although most will never admit), and yet it’s the truth. However, it sounds to me that in your case, it has crossed the line from attraction to an emotional affair.

Here’s why I say that.

You wrote: I know the consequences, I know the pain it would cause, I know the risks and none of that is ever wanted of course… but yet the desire to at the very least share a kiss with said best friend remains. I have exhausted all forms of ridding my thoughts of him that I can think of.

Your words “ring” of an emotional affair to me. What’s an emotional affair? It’s the adult version of teenage infatuation. It means you’re having strong mental fantasies and feelings about someone outside of your exclusive relationship.

Here’s how it works:

You imagine what it would be like, feel like, and be able to kiss this person and KNOW for sure you have cast the same spell on him. In your mind’s eye, you recreate a passionate moment and then you associate it with good feelings, the right touch, the look of desire in his eyes, the feeling of power knowing that he’s just as infatuated as you.

This is the first stage of an emotional affair, and it all happens in the mind. So far, it’s just a fantasy — the trouble begins when you fall in love with the fantasy and the “possibility”. Now you’ve crossed into an emotional affair.

I see this going one of two ways.

Option #1: You give in to your curiosity. You decide you MUST know for sure if the movies you’ve been playing out in your mind are as good in reality. You decide you must discover if the “kiss” will bring the validation you’re craving and boost you up, enhance your attractiveness and make you feel as powerful. So you initiate contact, you flirt, you hint, you ooze sensuality, you play games, you drop the bait — maybe you even break down and confess feelings… all in an effort to get the response you’re looking for.

And what do you think will happen?

Well, one of two things: IF he’s a good person, he will experience BOTH attraction and repulsion at the same time. It will automatically lower your status in his eyes (after all, you’re his best friend’s girl) and he will lose respect for you. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be attracted. Like I said, sexual attraction happens. His being sexually attracted to you (if you put yourself out there) isn’t much of a stretch. It doesn’t “mean anything, and it doesn’t say anything, except “attraction” — one of the most basic of all human experiences.

Another thing that could happen is that he’s also been harboring secret feelings for you. This is also possible. Men tend to compete with each other, even unconsciously. So it’s possible the thoughts have crossed his mind, but he’s smart enough to put them away, knowing he would lose his best friend and his self-respect should he pursue them.

But what if you were to open the door? Well, you would be sending a message that you’re fair game, and that might trigger a pursuit. Now let me ask you this: would that be fair? To you? To him? To your partner? Would it be worth it? Because you know once you open Pandora’s Box, you can’t stuff the creatures that come out back in. Once the door is opened, even just a crack and you cross the line from emotional affair to adultery, you can’t just go back to how things were before (and yes, a “kiss” IS crossing the line).

These are things for you to think about, many of which I’m sure you already thought about. It helps, of course, to have someone remind you from time to time the things you already know are true.

For example:

There are no substitutes for integrity. Once you cross the line, you’ll hurt the man you love and destroy a friendship, once again ending up in and creating a dysfunctional relationship.

Drama isn’t the same as adventure. For sure, it would be dramatic and romantic to feel that powerful validation from the best friend. But haven’t you had enough of that kind of lifestyle? Don’t you want to know what happens IF you seek out adventure with your partner, rather than reach outside for stimulation?

The universe will not “reward” deception. Jade, you already know this one. As you sow, so shall you reap. The consequences of each action are returned to the doer… and on, and on. In other words, although your partner might never find out, YOU will set in motion a set of karmic consequences that must come home to you.

Want to know what I believe?

I think you’re truly IN love for the first time. And you’re scared. I think you’ve had so much bad relationships that a good relationship feels wrong.

For example…

Good relationships are by nature peaceful. But sometimes, people mistake that for boredom. Good relationships are nurturing. But sometimes, people mistake that for passivity.

The takeaway here is, Don’t let yourself sabotage a good relationship just because it doesn’t resemble the bad ones that came before.

Here’s what I recommend:

Option #2: I recommend you do an emotional detox.

That you’ve had an emotional affair isn’t the end of the world. But don’t ignore it or defend it either. You need to be willing to purge it.

What’s an emotional detox?

Just as the name sounds, it’s a process of purging thoughts, fantasies and attachments out of  your system. Because somewhere along the line, you fell in love with your own fantasies, and now you need to come down from that “high” and stop indulging in the fantasies of “what if” and “what could be.” This is called an “emotional detox.”

Here’s how it works:

For 30 days, you must commit to not indulging in fantasies of him, thinking of him, imagining what it would be like, having conversations in your head about him, etc. This isn’t about getting rid of the thoughts… this is simply about not indulging in them.

How will you know when you have achieved full emotional detox?

Here’s how: when your feelings go back to “neutral” — the way they were before they got blown out of proportion. If you want more information on handling and overcoming emotional affairs, you might want to also read my article on handling emotional affairs.