So you justify the affair, telling yourself that he wasn’t really cheating, since they never had sex.
If that’s true, why do you feel so bad?
Remember when you were in kindergarten and you swore to be ‘best friends’ with the girl or boy down the street? Remember how great that felt, trusting that you had someone in your corner, a real pal who valued your friendship above all others, exclusive, and would never do you wrong?
Then one afternoon, you found your best friend huddled over the Hot Wheels track with someone else, playing with the Mustangs and Chevys that only you two had shared before.
How did you feel?
Below is a checklist of some of the ways emotional affairs can be more dangerous – and insidious – than physical ones.
1. They erode marital intimacy
If you husband starts confiding in and seeking comfort from another woman, even if he never as much as pecks her on the cheek, he is stealing that intimacy and openness from our marriage. Gradually that phantom presence in your lives takes on a larger and larger stature, widening the gulf between you.
2. They erode trust
When marital secrets are shared with an outsider, whether for commiseration or sympathy, a very real betrayal of trust has occurred.
No one wants the personal details of a talk or fight with their spouse to be shared with an opposite-sex friend of your partner. When your husband or wife exposes such private emotional matters, it is a betrayal of the deepest kind.
When that betrayal is exacerbated by loving comfort and support of the affair partner, the very foundation of the marriage is compromised.
3. They create secrecy.
When one spouse starts hiding things from the other, two things happen. One, you’re moving away from you marital partner emotionally.
Two, you’re shutting them out of the most personal and private parts of yourself; the part that is supposed to be reserved for your spouse, even if the vows didn’t specify that ‘forsaking all others’ included emotional confidants.
4. They cause hurt.
Just like the best friend who betrayed you in kindergarten, an emotional affair hurts. It is a loss, an emptiness and abandonment. Because it’s insidious (hard to prove and harder to fight), you, the betrayed spouse can’t even effectively defend yourself.
5. They cause tension and bad feelings in the marriage
At some point, both of you will become angry and defensive. You’re both protecting your vitally important intimate connections, but unfortunately the emotional cheater is protecting theirs at the expense of their marriage.
It is very hard, if not impossible, to defend your relationship against emotional affairs. They probably stem from some dissatisfaction in the relationship, but sometimes they just happen.
Internet affairs are particularly tricky because often the deep and passionate relationships that form are more of a fantasy than reality (since, unless we’ve met someone in person, our minds are actually filling in so many blanks that the real object of our attraction may be very different than what we assume).
Fantasies are tough acts to follow, and harder to battle! Even so, such a ghost-presence, like a live emotional affair between co-workers, works like termites eating the structure and support from under your relationship.
The only recourse might be to try and reconnect with your loved one, see a counselor and mutually decide to shelve the affair and revitalize your marriage.
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