A no longer new crisis of infidelity has emerged and is now officially part of our culture as a country. This is where people who never intended to be unfaithful are unwittingly crossing the line from platonic friendships into romantic relationships.
Emotional affairs are common today. It might have started with a conversation on social media, or with a seemingly innocent friendship in the workplace. In fact, one doesn’t even have to leave home to become entangled with another. Yet still, it always begins at an innocuous level, and then it progresses to something more.
It also usually begins with an uncomplicated thought, like “unlike my partner, this person really understands me…”.
These romances may seem harmless, perhaps even “safe” alternatives to outright cheating. However, the truth is, such relationships venture into dangerous territory. They may not initially lead to physical involvement, but they can still devastate marriages.
What starts out as an emotional outlet does often lead a person down a slippery slope. Because online communication entices users with the lure of anonymity, one may be more prone to share personal issues with others… issues they wouldn’t normally talk about in person. With barriers down, a deep level of emotional intimacy can develop between two people quickly.
As prevalent as these affairs are becoming, they are not always easily identified or even seen as harmful by those involved. One reason lies in the lesser degree, or absence of, guilt and shame that often accompany extramarital sexual encounters.
The spouse entangled in the relationship may justify it as “innocent fun” due to the lack of physical contact. The impact this may have on a marriage varies according to the couple. To women generally, the betrayal of emotional infidelity can be as debilitating as that of physical infidelity.
Even though physical boundaries have not been crossed, you’re still taking your best communication outside of your marriage, and then there’s not much left to bring to your spouse.
However, these affairs don’t just begin willy-nilly. While there can never be a fitting reason to justify infidelity, emotional affairs generally fulfil a need that may not be met to the satisfaction of the one involved.
Emotional affairs can also attract those wanting to escape stressful situations, pressure and responsibility associated with family. And as with other online temptations like pornography, the pursuit of fantasy undermines the presence of reality.
So how can you recognise an emotional affair? They contain some or all of the following elements: