Friday, October 23, 2009

Emotional affair: cheating? Or not quite...

Betrayal is in the eye of the beholder. For some, cheating is full-on, clothes-off sexual intercourse. For others, a flirtatious e-mail.
Before I experienced betrayal (yes, it the was the full-on type...), I considered flirting to be harmless and fun. A way of getting an ego boost without actually doing anything wrong.
Now, however, that I've been walked through the hell of betrayal and come out the other side, it's easy for me to see that flirtations aren't quite so harmless. Why? It's kinda like opening the cookie jar to get a whiff...while promising yourself that you won't actually take a bite. (It's almost lunch time and I'm hungry – hence the cookie analogy.) We all know that, once that jar is opened, a bite – while perhaps not inevitable – is highly likely.
And that's much of the danger which what are frequently termed "emotional affairs". We dismiss them as harmless, which allows them to go on – and those engaging in them to rationalize what they're doing – for long enough that the line becomes blurrier and blurrier until it's gone altogether.
I've known of women who've been completely torn apart by a spouse's emotional affair – something I would have considered harmless. For some women, a strictly physical affair (ie. no-strings-attached sex) is easier to overcome than anything that involves emotional attachment.
The truth is ANY betrayal – indeed any allegiance – that takes a spouse's emotional and/or physical presence away from the marriage is dangerous.
In a healthy marriage, there shouldn't be secrets. If a spouse can't discuss a "friendship" with their partner, share the conversations/e-mails/etc, then chances are that relationship violates fidelity. My advice? Stop...now.

3 comments:

  1. How does a wife deal with a husband who had an emotional affair with an ex girlfriend. He does not feel it was an emotional affair but I feel betrayed and unable to trust him again. Can anyone can help me deal with this situation.
    Many thanks.

    Betrayed wife

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am currently in the same situation. I found out my husband was talking with an ex-lover from 25 years ago. He said they were just catching up on life. She found him on Facebook. I did not see anything wrong with that at the time. Then her husband called me and said that there was inappropriate talk. So after looking at my cell phone bill and seeing that he talked to her for over 600 mins in a month I asked him to stop.I told him what happened and said that he was cheating on me and lying about what he was doing. He does not feel he was doing anything wrong. After a month and a half, I get a call from her husband again and he tells me they are communicating again and that they both have new e-mail addresses so that we do not have a way to track them. How do I deal with his refusal to give up this relationship?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so sorry. Emotional betrayal can be just as devastating (some say more!) than physical betrayal.
    You need to determine exactly what's acceptable to you and what's not. And HE needs to ask himself why he's having a relationship of any sort, with an EX girlfriend, behind your back. Obviously his boundaries are fuzzy, to say the least.
    There's a great book, Not Just Friends, by Shirley Glass that you may want to check out.
    In the meantime, state your terms and determine what you're prepared to do if he violates them. Making threats and then backing down won't get you anywhere. If you're insisting on No Contact with this woman, then what are the consequences if he violates that? Make sure they're consequences you'll follow through with.
    Your intent is not to punish him but to protect yourself and respect yourself. And to help him understand that what he thinks is an innocent friendship (HA!), is hurtful to you and damaging to your marriage. Is he prepared to pay the price for allowing a third person into your marriage?

    ReplyDelete

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