No, it's not just an innocent flirtation.
Emotional infidelity occurs when you or your partner become emotionally connected with someone outside of your relationship, either in person or on the internet. An emotional affair is very dangerous because it not only takes away time and energy from the marriage, but it can lead to sexual infidelity and possibly divorce.
Another way of looking at emotional infidelity is that the 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 becomes 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, deeper issue?
Emotional affairs are tempting because it's easy to be close with someone with whom you have no shared responsibility — no money issues, no children, no chores. It's easy to share your deepest feelings with someone with whom you have no conflict. It's easy to get positive feelings when someone who doesn't live with you and doesn't see all of your flaws, thinks you're 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 of you try to control through anger, blame and criticism.
- One or both of you try to control through caretaking, such as giving yourselves up and taking responsibility for your spouse's feelings.
- One of both of you withdraw and resist being controlled by the other.
- Neither of you take emotional responsibility for your own feelings. You both abandon yourselves and ignore each other's feelings and make your spouse responsible for your feelings.
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 don't disappear just because you move on to another relationship. You take your overt and covert forms of control with you into any relationship, as well as your underlying fears of rejection that are behind these forms of control. Generally, these patterns don't show up early in a relationship or in an emotional or physical affair, but that doesn't mean they're 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 looking to someone else to fill up your emptiness and take away your loneliness, why not learn to do this for yourself? 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.
This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission from the author.