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Emotional Cheating: "Is my friendship headed for trouble?"
By Susie and Otto Collins

We all know what a typical affair is.

But what about those cases when there is no physical dimension to the infidelity?

In these less stereotypical situations, an emotionally intimate relationship has developed between two people-- even though one or both are already in a committed relationship.

Even if they never kiss or make love, it can feel like cheating has happened.

This is a murky place to be.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with heterosexual people having opposite sex friends outside their love relationship.

But a sense of betrayal and breaking agreements can easily occur when that friendship crosses a line.

Trust can most certainly be damaged.

In a recent Sally Forth comic strip, Sally's husband Ted has developed a friendship with one of his female co-workers.

Ted begins to worry about where this friendship is headed when other co-workers assume the two of them are having an affair.

Ted tries to tell his office buddy that he can't be
friends with her anymore, but he just can't seem to get the words out.

Meanwhile, his wife Sally can tell that he's distracted by something but he won't share with her what it is.

This situation, if not turned around, is headed toward disconnection and possibly hurt.

Just because one person accuses another of having an affair, it doesn't mean one is going on.

At the same time, just as Ted took seriously his co-worker's assumption that he and the other woman were having an affair, you can also benefit from paying attention to your friendships and your potentially deeper feelings about them.

Consider these general aspects of an emotional affair:
*You spend a lot of time thinking about your friend.
*You feel more interested in your friend than in your partner.
*You find yourself arranging more and more time away from your mate and with your friend.
*You confide intimate secrets or details with this friend that you will not share with your partner.
*You realize that you are physically attracted to your friend.
*You keep your friendship (or details about it) a secret from your mate.

It doesn't necessarily mean that an emotional affair is going on if any of these are present in your situation.

If you do identify with a few or more of these aspects, however, you'll probably want to take a closer look at your feelings and intentions.

Be open and honest.
Above all, if you are concerned that you've inadvertently fallen into (or are headed toward) an emotional affair, it's time to get honest and be open.

Be honest with yourself first and foremost.

What are your true feelings about this friend and about your mate?

If you do feel drawn more toward this other person and away from your partner, then you are being called to make choices.

What are the needs that are being met in this friendship that are not being met in your love relationship?

If you get the sense that your friend is getting the
"wrong" idea about your relationship, as is seems to be the case with Ted in the Sally Forth comic, address this with your friend.

You might be mis-reading his or her signals or you might be accurate.

Make it clear to this person that your priority and your heart are with your partner. If the friendship can continue as truly as friendship, then you might need to set boundaries about your availability and level of connection.

Be honest with your mate as well. Of course you don't want to needlessly upset your partner.

At the same time, just as Sally could tell that Ted was distracted by something, don't give your mate cause to worry or make assumptions because you refuse to share what's really going on.

You might admit to your partner that you have realized that your friendship with this person might be crossing a line that you don't want to cross.

You could share that you are wanting to re-affirm your commitment to your love as you make a decision about whether or not to continue this friendship.

Keep making agreements and then follow through.
You and your partner might come up with some new agreements that will help maintain and strengthen the trust between you two.

For example, if the friendship that you fear is an
emotional affair in the making is online, you and your mate might come up with some agreements about how often and when you'll communicate with this other person.

Make it your ultimate goal to keep trust and connection between yourself and your partner healthy and strong.

You could also make agreements with your friend if you decide to continue this friendship-- but in a less emotionally attached manner.

Above all, pay attention to your love relationship or marriage.

If there are old, unresolved issues that have driven a wedge between you two, devote energy to resolving them and letting them go.

Amp up the passion and connection between the two of you and do what you can do to meet one another's needs.







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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email

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