I hear about this at least once a week and still some people act as if it is not real. Let’s dig into it.
I define an emotional affair as “getting romantic emotional needs met outside the relationship.” Maybe they’re sneaking and hiding the communication or meeting or lying by omission.
What might this look like? Turning the phone when I walk in the room. Not telling me about a meeting or a lunch or happy hour. Going out to a bar and drinking with other men and I’m not there. Talking about our relationship troubles with other men.
I want people to know that emotional affairs exist, because some people have a blind spot. From sending/receiving inappropriate pictures to flirting that crosses a line. Discuss with your partner where the line is for you. Apparently, many couples are okay with some behavior that would make other couples cringe. (Side note: I have worked with polyamorous couples and have counseled multiple members of the local BDSM community who brought me up to speed with my knowledge base.)
The idea about cheating implies that there are rules or understandings or a contract and you’ve broken the rules; thus “cheating.” How do you know if you are crossing a line? Sometimes they say that an affair didn’t happen because they didn’t have sex -they weren’t physical. We know that’s not true, that you can still put the relationship in jeopardy without having sex or being physical. Ask your partner and do a self-inventory.
Would you do this behavior in front of your spouse/partner? Would you be proud of yourself if your partner knew what you were doing? What is good about what you did?
What do you do to actively protect the relationship? What barriers do you use to ensure you don’t put yourself in a compromising situation? Have you practiced what you might say or do if the temptation happens?
“I know it could happen, therefore I am prepared,” is much more reassuring than, “I would never do that.” If you think it would never happen, you are much less prepared when the situation arises. If you think it could happen, you have an opportunity to prepare a response.
Me, personally, I don’t want to have an affair. How can I increase my odds of not having an affair:
I don’t make great eye contact with women except my partner. I don’t talk to women for more than 5 minutes about anything but work- not let guard down. Never talk about the woman I’m dating- to another woman in negative terms. Not have women in my office unless a client. Tell her who I’m communicating with, so she doesn’t have to ask/guess. Talk about any/all threats openly. No happy hours or bar alone or even with partner. Reassurance is key. Be self aware and own the human condition and how anyone can cheat. Make it hard to cheat. Not check women out AND linger. Not touch. Transparency is huge.
Please read Part II to see what other experts say