It often begins innocently enough as a friendship but when you or your partner start investing a lot of emotional time and energy into a bond outside of your relationship, it can ultimately threaten the intimacy you have with your partner.
Okay, so there hasn’t been actual sexual intimacy, but emotional affairs can still do a lot of damage and are a form of cheating (you may disagree – comments welcome!). If there’s deception and you’re hiding it from your partner, something’s definitely not right. If you’re seeking/finding emotional support outside your relationship, the next step is feeling closer to that person than to your partner (and vice-versa).
One difference between a close platonic friendship and an actual emotional affair is that the intimacy and emotional investment is downplayed or kept secret from your partner.
Some warning signs that you’re having an emotional affair are:
- Thinking that your friend understands you better than your partner.
- Giving the friend personal gifts
- Keeping the friendship secret or downplaying your interest in the other person.
- Texting them a lot when you’re not with them.
- Sharing thoughts and problems with your friend rather than your partner.
- Preoccupation or daydreaming about your friend.
- Withdrawing from your partner.
If you recognise this in your own life and want to stop things before any real damage is done to you and your partner, try to assess why you’re not feeling as close to your partner, start being more supportive of one another and make an effort to talk about what’s going on in your lives; make sure that you have some regular quality time together, even if you have small children and start finding ways of dealing with conflict in ways that are healthy.
By making your partner the focus of your life, rather than a ‘special friendship’, there’s a chance to put a spark back into your relationship before it’s too late.
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