Kevin, what you’re experiencing is typically referred to as an emotional affair. What is an emotional affair? An emotional affair can be described as intense romantic feelings directed toward a person outside your primary relationship.
In other words… having an emotional affair is mentally falling in love with the potential (or fantasy) you’ve created about another person.
Here’s an infographic of the 10 signs you’re having an emotional affair (see how many of these seem to fit you):
Key Facts About Emotional Affairs
- Emotional affairs happen in the mind. The feelings, longings, infatuation, and fantasies are fueled by your own thoughts. This is why you can have an emotional affair with someone you’ve never met or ever talked with. (For example, lots of people have emotional affairs with celebrities.)
- The emotional affair is the most dangerous part of an extramarital affair. It’s because of these powerful emotions that people have such a hard time exiting the affair, and why they’re willing to lie, cheat, and manipulate… to keep it going.
- The allure of an emotional affair is very subtle. Nobody ever plans to get emotionally involved with the wrong person, and yet it happens to good people every day, everywhere. Like a spider’s web, the seduction is almost always invisible to the one being seduced. By the time you discover your emotions are entangled, you’re already trapped.
And one more thing…
- While emotional affairs are powerful, they’re not permanent. Why? They’re not rooted in reality. They are mind-created romances based on the fantasy of what could be. And it’s exactly because of this reason, why they eventually wane.
Back to your question.
“What can you do when you discover that you’re caught up in an emotional affair?”
That’s a great question. I say that because just the fact that you’re asking means you have already started the process of extricating yourself. So to help you understand how to break free faster from this emotional affair, let me share with you a story about the power of a beautiful illusion.
Once upon a time, there was a very wise teacher. One day, a thief came to him. Upon meeting the teacher, the thief fell in love with him because he had never met such a loving person, so filled with wisdom and grace. He asked the teacher, “Is it possible for me to grow in wisdom? But before you answer, there are two things I must make clear to you. I am a thief and I cannot stop stealing, so please don’t make it a condition. I will do whatsoever you say, but I cannot stop being a thief.” He continued… “I have tried many times and it never works. I have accepted my destiny that I am going to be a thief and remain a thief, so don’t talk about it. From the very beginning, let it be clear.”
The wise teacher said, “Why are you afraid? Who is going to talk about your being a thief?” The thief said, “Whenever I go to a monk, to a priest, to a psychologist, or to a saint, they always say, ‘First, stop stealing.’”
The teacher laughed and said, “Then you must have gone to thieves; otherwise, why? Why should they be concerned? I am not concerned!” The thief was very happy. He said, “Then it’s okay. It seems that now I can become a disciple. You are the right teacher.”
The wise teacher accepts him exactly as he is and says, “Now you can go and do whatsoever you like. Only one condition has to be followed: Be aware! Go. Break into houses, enter, take things, steal; do whatsoever you like, that is of no concern to me; I am not a thief. But you must steal with full awareness.” The thief didn’t understand that he was falling into a trap. He said, “Then everything is okay. I will try.” After three weeks… he came back and said, “You are a tricky teacher. If I become aware, I cannot steal. If I steal, awareness disappears. I am in a fix.”
The wise teacher said, “No more talk about your being a thief and stealing. I am not concerned; I am not a thief. Now, you decide! If you want wisdom, you must have awareness, but you decide. If you don’t want it, then you decide that, too.”
The man said, “But now, it is difficult. I have tasted it a little, this self-awareness, and it is so peaceful. I will leave anything, whatsoever you say. Just the other night, for the first time, I was able to enter the palace of the king. I opened the treasure chest. I could have become the richest man in the world. But your voice followed me, and I had to be aware. When I became aware, the diamonds looked just like stones, ordinary stones. Then when I lost awareness, the treasure was there. And I waited and did this many times. I would become aware and I could not even touch it because the whole thing looked foolish, stupid — just stones, ‘What am I doing?’ I asked myself, ‘Losing myself over ordinary stones?’ Then I would lose awareness; they would become beautiful again, and that’s when it became clear: the external treasure is an illusion. The real treasure is my own awareness of my true self. That’s when I finally decided that they were not worth it. For what would it profit me to gain a king’s treasure, and lose myself in the process?”
This story is a wonderful demonstration of a very important point:
Emotional Affairs Are Powerful External Illusions
When you’re caught up in them, they feel precious like diamonds and gold. But the instant you pull back and really look at them, they disappear. This brings us to the point of the story and what I consider to be the biggest secret to dealing with emotional affairs.
The #1 Secret To Neutralizing An Emotional Affair
My approach to neutralizing an emotional affair is very similar to the approach the wise teacher used in the story. Like the wise teacher, I offer no judgment about whether emotional affairs are right or wrong. That is not my business. I am also not interested in how you came to be in this situation. The only thing I’m concerned with is that you’re now ready to break free from it, and helping people break free from emotional entanglements they don’t want… IS my business.
Like that wise teacher, my number one technique in helping you reverse your way out of this entrapment will be self-awareness.
Why is self-awareness the number one tool?
Remember, emotional affairs are mind-created relationships. To become entrapped by them, you must first go into a state of forgetfulness that it’s all being created in your own mind. Here’s the formula for an emotional affair:
First you create the fantasy, then you forget that it’s a fantasy, and in that state of forgetfulness, you fall in love with the image you created.
In this mind-created relationship, the affair partner fulfills you… knows you, understands you, connects with you… in ways no one in real life ever has before. And it’s also a reciprocal relationship — you’re able to offer them love, pleasure and affection that THEY have never experienced before either.
Did you notice that even reading those words is enough to trigger some of those similar feelings? This is because ALL thoughts are creative. Think sensual, romantic thoughts, and you feel sensual, romantic feelings. Picture yourself swept off your feet, locked in sexual ecstasy with a person who knows your body and soul, and you can feel the chemical counterpart of those thoughts (aka… pleasure).
Here’s the challenge… All human beings love to feel good. In other words, we’re hooked on our feelings. This is what happens with emotional affairs: We get hooked on the feelings generated from our own fantasies, and then project the cause of those feelings onto the affair partner. Now that person becomes your treasure as they are perceived as the source of those good feelings.
This is why self-awareness is the key.
Because when you shine the light of awareness on this situation, here’s what you’ll observe: It’s your own thoughts creating your own feelings. This means nobody outside of you is causing you to feel this way. This recognition neutralizes the glamour of the affair partner (turning them back into an ordinary person once again). Could it really be that simple? Yes, because it is. In fact, many who’ve reached this awareness report having a spontaneous release from their emotional affairs in the instant they were able to see through the veil of their own fantasy.
Alas, it doesn’t happen like this for everyone.
Some people, even after becoming aware of the illusion of an emotional affair, still find themselves ensnared by it. And when this happens, it’s usually due to some type of confusion. So, coming up next… I’m going to draw your attention to the 5 most common confusions people hold about an emotional affair (that keeps them trapped), and give you some key clarifications that, once understood, will pull you from its clutches.
Ready… Set… Here we go…