Emotional infidelity occurs when you or your partner become emotionally connected with someone outside of your relationship, either in person or on the internet. How dangerous to a marriage or committed relationship is emotional infidelity? One way of looking at this issue is that it is very dangerous because it not only takes away time and energy from the marriage, but it can lead to sexual infidelity and possibly to the end of a marriage.
Another way of looking at emotional infidelity is that betrayal is a symptom of the problems that already exist within a marriage. When the primary relationship is not emotionally and physically intimate, each person may be vulnerable to a form of adultery — either emotional or physical. Rather than blaming the affair for the problems in a marriage, why not address the real problem?
Emotional affairs are compelling because it is easy to be close with someone with whom you have no shared responsibility — no money issues, no children, no chores. It is easy to share your deepest feelings with someone with whom you have no conflict. It is easy to get positive feelings when someone who does not live with you and does not see all of your flaws, thinks you are wonderful.
This is a cop out, or an easy way out of dealing with the real issues at hand. If this affair does lead to the break up of your marriage and into a new permanent relationship, chances are you will end up with the same problems. Why waste your time? Why not deal with the problems now?
The primary problem that leads to emotional infidelity is emotional distance between partners. While emotional infidelity is a symptom of emotional distance within the primary relationship, the emotional distance is also a symptom of the deeper issues within the relationship. These deeper issues might be:
- One or both partners trying to have control through anger, blame, and criticism.
- One or both partners trying to have control through caretaking, such as giving themselves up and taking responsibility for the other person's feelings.
- One of both partners withdrawing and resisting being controlled by the other partner.
- Neither partner taking emotional responsibility for his or her own feelings. Each partner abandoning themselves and ignoring their feelings through addictions and making the other responsible for their feelings.
- Power struggles that result from a control and resistance dynamic and an inability to resolve conflict.
The relationship pattern that develops when neither partner takes responsibility for his or her own feelings, and when each partner tries to have control in overt or covert ways, grinds down the love until each person feels disconnected from their partner and lonely in the relationship. This is when they are susceptible to emotional infidelity.
However, these patterns do not disappear just because you move into another relationship. You take your overt and covert forms of control with you into any relationship, as well as your underlying fears of rejection and engulfment that underlie these forms of control. These patterns do not generally show up early in a relationship or in an emotional or physical affair, but that does not mean they are gone. If your new relationship were to become your committed primary relationship, these patterns would resurface.
Why waste what might turn out to be a wonderful relationship by not dealing with your fears, controlling patterns and self-abandonment now? Instead of addictively looking to someone else to fill up your emptiness and take away your loneliness, why not learn to do this for yourself so that you can break your dysfunctional patterns and become the loving person that you are capable of being? Imagine the wonderful relationship you and your partner might have if both of you were to learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and your own ability to love.
To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with your partner and others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week home study eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" – the first two weeks are free!
Connect with Margaret on Facebook.
This article was originally published at Inner Bonding
. Reprinted with permission from the author.