The Stealth Killer Of Relationships: Emotional Affairs
What is an “emotional affair”, you ask? Well, the answer may surprise you. A emotional affair is anytime that you take intimacy out of your relationship by sharing it with others. Your friendships are supposed to support the intimacy in your relationship, not take away from it. If you are sharing feelings, ideas, or thoughts with your co-worker that you aren’t sharing with your spouse you are having an emotional affair. So yes, you could be having an affair with your mother. Or your best friend.
And I’m not talking about the normal bitch sessions people need from time to time. I’m talking about a pattern of sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings.
Of course there are degrees to these affairs, just as there are degrees to the physical affairs. Obviously there is less danger in an “affair” with a family member or friend you aren’t romantically interested in, because there is a natural limit to the relationship. However, anything that you do that takes away from your primary relationship is a problem. So if you are having issues, the answer isn’t to confide in your co-worker, who you find to be cute and a great listener. That is a slippery slope to pain and confusion.
I’ve talked to people in my office who have had affairs. It isn’t fun. They are confused and guilty. It literally tears them in two. It creates conflicting feelings that they cannot resolve. They are neither here nor there. They can’t work on their relationship because they cannot let go of the affair person. They can’t commit to the affair person because they feel guilty about leaving their partner. Complicating matters further, they are comparing the fun initial stages of attraction (affair person) with the more muted and less exciting attraction to their long term partner. Totally not fair.
And it really isn’t possible to work on improving your relationship while you are still seeing the affair person, even if you have broken off contact. I don’t care if you work with them, or they are integral to your business, blah, blah, blah. If you really care about your relationship you will find a way.
So the next time you need someone to talk to, keep walking past the cute guy or gal at work and phone a therapist. I’d rather see you in my office struggling through a personal issue rather than trying to recover from an affair.