When I was married, and things were strained between us, I was feeling so very unappreciated. He took me for granted and used me as his personal property, making decisions for me, telling me when to stay and when to go. He would tell me what to wear and how to wear it.
In a marriage, optimally everything is supposed to be 50-50. With my ex, things were at whatever percentage he chose. He was naturally gregarious and well liked by most and often had friends at our home for visits.
There was one friend who actually ‘saw’ me and would speak out to my husband on my behalf. For example, his friend was very gentleman-like and when he came over, he would bring beer. Well, I didn’t drink beer. He apologized after that first visit, asked me what I liked, and every subsequent visit, he brought beer for himself and my husband and wine or raspberry ginger ale for me.
My husband would practically ignore my presence, was a prick with me, and it didn’t matter if someone was around when he did. Most people never seemed to recognize or acknowledge this. At least, no one ever spoke up. This friend did, and I began to feel like a person who mattered.
He would call before he came over, and not just stop over unannounced. From time to time, my husband wasn’t at home when he called and we would just talk. We talked about so many things, and he asked me about me, my wants, likes and so forth.
My husband really liked him, too. We were all very close, but he and I had this thing that was unexplained. I would look forward to his visits and his calls. When he was at our house, my husband was always on his best behavior, and that made me happy. I lit up when talking to him, and looked forward to his visits. I totally knew that I had fallen in love with this man. I dreamed of being with him, but felt stuck with my husband. We had an “emotional affair”.
These are some of the signs to look for to determine whether you are having an emotional affair with someone.
1. Avoiding intimacy. You begin to avoid intimacy with your partner. This includes avoiding conflict or being fearful of closeness with your partner. This causes desire to connect with another person, whether an acquaintance or existing friend.
2. Seeking approval. Avoiding issues in your relationship and accepting a false intimacy causes a need for approval from others. Finding someone who really listens to you, puts you on a pedestal higher that ever before. You may not be sleeping with them so you don’t think of it as an affair. Because this person accepts and appreciates who you truly are, you may blame your partner for doing the same thing.
3. Unmatched concern for their life. If someone brings this person up in conversation and speaks negatively at all, you need to defend that person’s honor. If your partner does something that irritates you, you may compare them with your new friend. This friend provides you with emotional intimacy that you feel your real relationship lacks. When you feel that others are getting in the way of your time with this friend, an emotional affair has begun.
4. Relational lethargy. Couples, in every relationship, has their ups and downs. Sometimes they last longer than others, and there are times you feel you put in more than you get out. You start to feel that your partner doesn’t really care or doesn’t really want to be around you. You tell yourself that it is much easier with your friend.and easier to be around them.
5. Objectification. You start seeing only the negative aspects of your partner in order to push away thee denial and guilt about your emotional affair. If your partner brings up the subject, you brush it off as jealousy or pettiness. You have already begun to see the other person as god-like-most talented, intelligent, most handsome or beautiful one in the world. As you do so, it justifies your reasons for maintaining the affair.
6. Minimization. When anyone has an affair, they tend to minimize the impact of their actions on another person. You think that it can’t hurt anyone because you only talk with the other person, not considering how your actions may affect your children, your other friendships, or your relationship with your partner.
7. Self- deception. You convince yourself that you are just as wonderful as your new found partner, and obtain the maximum benefits from this new relationship. Why didn’t I find this person earlier, you think.
8. Emotional confidant. The main reason why these emotional affairs begin is to find the emotional intimacy lacking in your present relationship.
9. Common Interests. By finding common interests, you find more reasons to spend time together, even if it’s just to talk on the telephone. This feeds into the denial that you two are just friends.
These aren’t set in stone, but remember, these are good indicators that you just might be having an emotional affair.
By the way, the way that my own emotional affair ended was tragic. He passed away from a brain disease. I was truly devastated as was my husband. We didn’t know that he was sick. He just seemed to disappear and we didn’t know why. In the end, things in our relationship worsened and we eventually separated and divorced. But, there’s no denying that I was involved in an “emotional affair”.
If you think you are having an emotional affair or you have been in the past, share your insights. Your information is private and your input might just enlighten someone else.