When we think of adultery within a marriage we typically focus on a physical affair. In fact, some people only consider it “cheating” if sexual intimacy is involved. In reality, however, an emotional affair can be every bit as dangerous – arguably even more so – than a physical affair. Moreover, an emotional affair often progresses into a physical affair at some point. A Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains how to recognize the common stages of an emotional affair and what you can do to save your marriage if you spot the signs of one.
Stages of an Emotional Affair
Not all affairs involve sex – at least not initially. An emotional affair is a strong emotional connection between two people that they intentionally hide from others because one or both of them is already in a committed relationship with another person. Although every relationship is unique, common stages of an emotional affair include:
- Stage One: Platonic Friends. An emotional affair starts as friendship. There may, or may not, be an initial physical attraction between the parties. Regardless, the relationship starts out innocent enough. It may begin as just a casual acquaintance within a broad circle of friends or a coworker situation where the two people are required to be in close proximity on a regular basis.
- Stage Two: Intimate Friendship. At some point, the innocent friendship starts to shift toward emotional intimacy. This typically occurs because the existing relationship(s) is in trouble and/or the party (parties) “cheating” is insecure about that relationship. Signs that a harmless friendship is moving toward an emotional affair include:
- Sharing things that are not shared with an existing partner.
- Sharing things that are not shared with anyone else.
- Anticipating the next time you will see the “friend.”
- Wanting to share important life changes/events with the “friend.”
- Hiding the relationship.
- Actively avoiding running into anyone who knows you when with the “friend.”
- Stage Three: Emotional Affair. The point at which a relationship morphs from an intense friendship into an emotional affair is often difficult to pinpoint. One telltale sign, however, is the addition – or acknowledgment – of sexual chemistry. Even if the relationship has not yet become physical, much time is spent thinking about each other and physical intimacy has at least been imagined by the people involved. Signs that the relationship has reached stage three of an emotional relationship include:
- Being sexually excited when with the “friend.”
- Feeling better with the “friend” than with your existing partner.
- Sneaking around – meeting in secret
- An increase in emotional distance with an existing partner.
- Starting fights or feeling frustrated in an existing relationship.
- Stage Four: Sexual Intimacy. It is possible to continue an emotional affair for a very long time without the relationship becoming physical; however, the majority of the time an emotional affair will eventually become sexual. Experts tend to agree that the longer the “affair” lasts prior to becoming sexual the stronger the emotional bond is and, therefore, the more likely it is that the affair will destroy the existing relationship(s).
What Can I Do If I Believe My Spouse Is Having an Emotional Affair?
If you spot the signs that your spouse/partner is having an emotional affair, the most important thing you can do is to communicate with your spouse/partner. Ignoring the signs will not make the issue go away. On the contrary, it may give the affair time to deepen and grow. Your spouse/partner may not even realize that an emotional affair is happening; however, if you see the signs, it is best to speak up now. Your spouse/partner is probably feeling that he/she is missing something in your existing relationship. Identifying the problem is the only way to resolve it.
Contact a Murfreesboro Contested Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about divorce, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.