When befriending another man outside of your marriage, the line between a close friendship and an emotional affair can get blurry. A platonic relationship between a man and a woman shouldn't get in the way of a marriage, but there are some clear signs to look out for that say if you've crossed into emotional affair territory..
Is He a Mutual Friend?
It’s not uncommon for women in relationships to have male friends. A study done in “Two Plus Two: Couples and their couple friendships” found that women in relationships had an average of two male friends and five female friends. Geoffrey Greif, co-author of “Two Plus Two,” suggests that if you want to be friends with a male, it is best if he is a mutual friend of you and your husband. The ideal situation would be that the friendship stay in a fun, social setting with your husband present, and not tread into emotionally personal conversation.
C’mon, Be Honest With Yourself!
One sign of an inappropriate friendship is if you’re being less-than-honest with your spouse about it. Even if you are lying by omission -- for example, you secretly exchange emails or text messages and attempt to hide it from your husband -- it’s a symptom of an emotional affair, according to the article “Head Sex and the Emotional Affair” on PsychCentral. Deception around infidelity is what hurts a relationship more than the actual act of cheating, according to “The Monogamy Myth” author Peggy Vaughan. If you are sneaking around and hiding just how close you are to your friend, this means the friendship could be harmful to your marriage.
Do You Share Too Much?
An emotional affair may not involve sexual or physical intimacy, but emotional intimacy can be just as harmful, if not more, to your marriage. Telling your friend about problems you have with your husband can be a slippery slope, according to psychotherapist Tammy Nelson. You may be seeking someone else to fill the needs that you are not getting from your husband, which can lead to dangerous territory. If you are confiding in your friend more than you are in your husband, you are building an emotionally intimate relationship outside of your marriage. Confiding in your friend may be a subconscious way to invite your friend to fill the needs that your husband does not.
Is It Friendship Before Marriage?
If your marriage is taking a backseat to your friendship, it may be an emotional affair. Examine how you are feeling about your friend in comparison to how you feel about your husband, suggests psychologist Dale Atkins in the article “When friendship becomes an emotional affair” on Today.com. If you feel that your friend fulfills all your emotional needs, you may not find the need to connect with your husband anymore. Sometimes this can sometimes mean you are not only emotionally distant from your husband, but physically, too. Another sign that your friendship is getting between you and your husband is that you start to fantasize about your friend and think about him all the time, sometimes even when you are intimate with your husband.
Are You Sexually Attracted to HIm?
Many times, emotional cheating can lead to physical cheating. Although emotional cheating can cause enough damage in a relationship, physical cheating is often when people feel they have gone too far. If you are having an emotional affair, it may be in danger of tipping into sexual infidelity if you and your friend are flirtatious through words or body language. Teasing, complimenting or touching each other in a flirty way, may be your subconscious way of testing out a relationship beyond friendship, according to Nelson.
Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".