“Emotional affair” may sound harmless, but it’s actually a precarious situation. Men and women can certainly be friends, but it’s important to know where to draw the line. Without clear demarcation it’s all too easy to slide from friendship to an emotional and sexual affair.
People who are married or in a committed relationship should take stock of their opposite gender friendships. Are you at all attracted to the other person? What are you hoping for when you are with that person?
The majority of emotional affairs begin at the office. The other person shares most of your time, many of your experiences and lots of the same acquaintances. It’s easy to laugh or vent over things that you both understand. The spouse or partner who does not share these things is at a disadvantage if there is even a hint of attraction.
How can you know if you’re falling into an emotional affair? Experts suggest looking at three key warning signs:
- You are sharing private marital or family difficulties with the other person. By discussing intimate concerns you create a bond that should belong to your partner. And if you tell them about ways your partner is not meeting your needs, you are giving unspoken permission to them to step in and take care of them. You need to ask yourself whether you are secretly hoping this will happen.
- Calls outside of normal work hours should be a red flag. This includes evening or weekend texting, as well as photo and video sharing. Do you check your phone looking for them? This is a sure sign that your heart is not first with your partner where it ought to be.
- Suggestive language and sexual innuendo have no place in a healthy opposite sex friendship. If you or the other person tell racy jokes or sexual references, ask yourself why you do this and what you are hoping the other person’s reaction will be.
If you find that you’re on the edge of an emotional affair the best thing is to have an open discussion with your spouse or partner. You certainly don’t need to go into gritty, hurtful details, but let them know you’re concerned you’re headed in the wrong direction. Even happily married couples experience passing moments of attraction for someone else. The key is how those feelings are managed.
Better than 70 percent of flirtatious relationships go on to become physical relationships. Cut the emotional tie before it becomes a physical one.