We know there are plenty of threats to successfully maintaining a long term relationship. It takes work. It requires the commitment to success from all involved. One common threat is infidelity – research has shown that it happens in around 25% of relationships that are thought of as monogamous. However, we most often think of infidelity as sexual betrayal, which may be missing a big part of the infidelity folks are engaging in: emotional infidelity.
An emotional affair starts as a friendship, often with colleagues or seemingly harmless online relationships, and tends to slowly progress to something more. A gradual blurring of the lines between friendship and deeper intimacy draws even happily partnered people into relationships they never saw coming. Emotional infidelity couldn’t be more different than sexual infidelity. Which leaves many couples vulnerable to its damaging effects.
According to Dr. Shirley Glass, author of Not “Just Friends”, there are three main ingredients of an emotional affair: close friendship and emotional intimacy, sexual attraction, and secrecy. An emotional affair often begins as friendship and gradually drifts into something more. While friendship alone isn’t enough to qualify as cheating, a feeling of shared closeness and understanding is the starting point for an emotional affair. When there is sexual attraction involved and the relationship begins to involve secrecy, that’s where the line is crossed into emotional cheating. So, what can you do to prevent this from happening to your relationship?
7 Ways to Safeguard Your Relationship:
1. Talk about emotional infidelity, so both partners are aware that cheating can happen without sex.
2. Discuss how the workplace and the Internet can be conducive to emotional affairs.
3. Think twice about reconnecting with past partners, whether after a reunion or via the Internet. Social networking sites and email have made it easy to track down former partners, and intimacy can develop quickly in these mediums.
4. Agree to share more about your day, as well as your desires and your frustrations with each other than you do with anyone else in your life.
5. Choose friendships with people who support your relationship. Friends who encourage you to leave a relationship rather than problem-solve are dangerous to the relationship.
6. Understand that attraction to other people is normal; it’s not a sign you’re in the wrong relationship.
7. Have realistic expectations for your relationship. Long-term relationships are often more loving than exciting. Likewise, the butterflies of new attraction always wear off eventually.
A couple’s best defense against emotional infidelity is to learn about it, then fortify their relationship against it. So, start communicating with your partner. If you’re committed to your relationship lasting long-term, be aware of the ingredients of an emotional affair and work to ensure it doesn’t happen.