Last week, I had a “Dear NwaVic” conversation. The person, who was in a serious relationship, explained to me that she recently met an attractive man. He was her friend’s cousin and casually got introduced to him at an outing. They exchanged numbers and have stayed in touch by constant texts and random emails when she’s at work. She said she looked forward to talking to him because he made her laugh and made her day with his snarky yet funny comments. In her mind, it was platonic and wanted to know what I thought about it. I asked her, “what if you didn’t hear from him tomorrow?” The immediate sad look on her face was all the answer I needed. I told her she needed to cut it out because she was in the making of an emotional affair.
When people think of affair, they traditionally think of a relationship that involves sexual/physical contact. But that’s not the only kind of affair. More dangerously, there’s the emotional affair which involves the heart…its an affair that doesn’t involve any physical contact. Instead, it involves maintaining a close emotional and personal relationship with someone other than the person you are with.
Granted, as human beings we are naturally inclined to attraction. Being in a relationship or being married does not automatically mean you won’t find someone else attractive. What you do with it, is what makes or breaks your relationship. I’m of the strong impression that a man and woman can maintain a friendship but it requires responsibility on both parts.
If your “friendship” starts showing any of these signs, you may be having an emotional affair….
1. You’re questioning it– the mere fact that you’re double thinking it: The fact that you’re already “feeling” like you’re doing something wrong is an inkling that you should evaluate what you’re doing.
2. You think about the person all the time: You think about them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. An emotional affair, especially for a woman, could do more harm than a physical affair because emotional connection arrests your attention and takes it away from your current relationship. When the person occupies your mind, they also occupy your emotions leaving little or none for your current partner.
3. You can hardly wait till the next text or call from the person: Nothing is wrong with constantly being in touch with your friend but you have to be mindful of the long-term implications. When you notice you’re abnormally excited just to tell them about your day before you tell your partner, its not a good sign because it marks a shift in your emotional priority.
4. You can’t wait to see them again: When your “excitement” on sight of the person exceeds how you feel when you see your best friend of the same sex, its time to re-evaluate.
5. You feel close to them emotionally: You feel like this person understands you the most.
6. You start to compare them to your current partner.
7. You start to view your current partner as a barrier to your communication with the person: When you’re around your partner, you’re thinking about how to sneak away to text, email or call your “friend’. This means you want to give the best of yourself outside your relationship.
8. There is flirting: We all know what flirting looks and sounds like. If your conversations with your “friend” start to venture outside normal conversations and their comments start to give you warm fussy feelings, you are building an emotional affair.
9. Your communication is a secret: If you’re deleting any evidence of communication with this person- texts, emails or calls, you’re already cheating emotionally. Anything you can’t say or do with this person in front of your spouse puts you closer into the hole, regardless of how platonic you’ve convinced yourself it is. More so, when you start justifying deleting the communication by blaming your partner’s jealousy or insecurity, you either are in a relationship with a controlling person or its simply a selfish justification.
10. You’re defensive about him or her: You’re shifting lanes, if you get defensive when for any reason your friends tease you about your relationship with the person. If you find yourself constantly yelling “we’re just friends!”, you may not be.
A healthy relationship should add value to your life and that of your partner and shouldn’t contribute to the breakdown of your relationship or marriage. On the other hand, an emotional affair, even when masked as a friendship, dismantles the bond in a relationship and leads to a broken relationship and possibly a physical affair. Pay attention and stay away from those…