Emotional Affairs

Some of the content in this blog submission were facilitated from the website: DearPeggy.com by Peggy Vaughan.  In my readings about mental health issues, I came across DearPeggy.com.  She had a number of articles on emotional affairs.

Increasingly, I see people in my office after having engaged in an emotional affair.  A few thoughts on this topic.

The key to determining whether behavior can legitimately be classified as an affair is whether or not there is secrecy regarding the relationship (outside the marriage).  So, if the outside relationship is being kept secret from your partner, even if there is no sexual involvement, it is still an affair.

It is the deception (whether sexual or emotional) that creates the most long-term damage to the trust and future of the marriage.  Most people recover from the fact that their partner had sex with someone else before they recover from the fact that they were decieved.  An affair, in the final analysis, is more about “breaking trust” than about ” having sex”.

Here are the responses to the following question from an online poll taken a few years ago:

“If your partner has had an affair, what was the most difficult to overcome?”

Women’s responses: That they had sex with someone else – 28%

That they decieved me – 72%

Men’s respnses:          That they had sex with someone else – 30%

That they decieved me – 70%

Emotional affairs are growing and affecting a large number of people, primarily due to more workplace connections and more online connections.  Since this is such a significant issue for so many people, consider the following:

It’s an emotional affair if…

I am keeping the details of my relationship secret from my spouse.

I am saying and doing things with the other person I wouldn’t do if my spouse were present.

I am sharing things with the other person that I don’t share with my spouse.

I am making an effort to arrange to spend time with the other person.

Most people who get involved in an “emotional affair”…

weren’t looking for an affair.

didn’t intend to have an affair.

didn’t think they were vulnerable to an affair.

Most people, especially men, do not realize there is an everpresent trap around people who are in a relationship.  The trap is the attraction that can occur when one shares intimate (not necessarily sexual ) thoughts, feelings, hopes, etc. with someone besides their partner.

If there is ongoing interaction with someone with whom you have been very honest in sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings, this can generate a feeling of closeness that stimulates even more sharing…and more closeness…and more sharing…and more closeness, etc.  Eventually, this relationship can become extremely close and an emotional attachment develops, causing serious damage to the marriage….whether it becomes sexual or not.

Statistics (from DearPeggy.com) suggest about half of emotional affairs escalate…become sexual.

The first step in healing is to severe all contact with the other person…all contact.

The second step (for the adulterer) is to demonstrate their trustworthiness to their partner.

In general, the third step in healing is for the couple to create a new relationship.


More later…



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