There is a common denominator when it comes to cheating...and it's not sex.
When it comes to cheating, many would not call something cheating until sex is involved. While cheaters are usually involved in a sexual relationship, most affairs or cheating start with the emotional aspect of cheating: an emotional attachment to someone other than a spouse that starts as something "innocent". However, there is nothing innocent about the deception or secrecy involved in concealing texts or emails from your spouse or partner.
When it comes to cheating, sexual or not, the common denominator is intimacy with someone besides one's partner or spouse. So why the discrepancy in defining what constitutes cheating? Some would suggest that those who deny emotional affairs as a form of cheating are those who might be currently, or have engaged in this type of cheating in the past, and don't want to stop because they see it as "innocent behavior."
Often, people who become involved in emotional affairs feel something is missing in their current relationship. They say it feels good to feel understood and desired. While this is a perfectly understandable desire, it still involves deception and going outside of your committed relationship to get your primary relationship needs met.
What most don't realize is that the attachment to this other person impacts the marriage or relationship. Often times as things get more intense in the emotional affair, intimacy and personal sharing start to wane in your committed relationship. If you think cheating is only about sex, think about how you would feel if you came home to find out your wife or husband was telling all of their secret desires and dreams to someone else, getting dressed up for them every day and not being able to wait to get to work to see that other person. Still think it's innocent?
Here are some signs you may be having an emotional affair:
- You dress up for that person.
- You share your feelings of marital or relationship trouble or dissatisfaction.
- You make a point to find ways to spend time together even if you only see each other at work, and this time becomes really important or special to you.
- You start sharing stuff things you don't even share with your partner, like your innermost dreams, secrets, hopes and aspirations — things that would actually connect you with your spouse or partner.
- You worry what would happen if your partner saw you together; you are doing or saying things that you know your partner would get jealous over.
- You're hiding the emails, texts, maybe even phone calls.
- You lie about or minimize the amount of contact you have at work
- You feel an emotional high that comes from being around or involved with this person.
The best ways to keep yourself in check and affair-proof your marriage or relationship:
- Don't engage in isolated friendships/relationships with people of the opposite sex. It may sound strict, but if you're hanging out with someone and your spouse or partner can't come along, you're probably doing something you don't want them to know about or would make them jealous.
- Don't attend one-on-one lunch meetings or private meetings with someone of the opposite sex, whenever possible. Sometimes it can't be avoided; however, if you're having lunch with a beautiful client or secretary and you don't want your wife to know about it, you're no longer engaging in something "innocent." If you must take a meeting alone with another man or woman, be sure you let your spouse or partner know who it was with, where you went and what took place. If you've got nothing to hide, there's no reason why you can't be honest. Famous pastor Billy Graham won't even ride in a car alone with another woman, not even his secretary. Why? Because of perception. He and his wife may know full well nothing inappropriate took place, but other on-lookers do not, and if they were to see him, they might perceive something took place and speculate about it to others. Word gets back. If you've ever been spotted while out with a friend of the opposite sex and heard about it from your spouse, you know exactly why Billy Graham has that rule.
- Don't accept invitations by someone of the opposite sex, even coworkers, to go out to dinners, lunch, or meet up for drinks if you can't invite your spouse or honestly tell them about it right away. If a woman at work knows you're married and invites you to meet her and a girlfriend for drinks, that's inappropriate. She shouldn't be asking and you shouldn't be accepting unless you plan on bringing along your spouse.
- Don't engage in conversations with coworkers of the opposite sex that are personal or have nothing to do with work, in or especially outside of work, unless your spouse knows about it. If you're texting or emailing your female coworker outside of work about personal things, and you are hiding it from your spouse, or going out of your way to sneak conversations, you are no longer engaging in something "innocent."
The best way to protect your marriage or relationship is to keep yourself accountable and stay away from seemingly "innocent" traps that can steal your affection, time and attention away from your significant other.