3. If you’re spending a considerable amount of time talking to him (her).
According to marriage therapist Allyson P., a person needs to consider not only the content of the messages sent back and forth but also the amount of them. For example, if you are emailing a “friend” fifteen times a day, that’s a tad extreme, even if the sentences themselves are about SpongeBob. A friend of mine confessed to me that she would spent two hours every night on Facebook chatting with an online buddy until she realized that was more time than she was spending with her husband.
4. If you are rationalizing.
“He is just a friend,” is a statement that you don’t say to yourself when you’re involved in innocent communication. Do you feel the need to justify a very safe friendship? No. It’s obvious to you and to your mate that the companionship is completely appropriate. However, you may very well be investing in an unsafe friendship if you are constantly wrestling with guilt or feel the need to rationalize.
5. If it’s meeting your personal needs.
If you are getting your intimacy needs met in an online relationship or with a co-worker with whom you playfully banter, you might stop to ask yourself why. Be especially careful if you’re sharing intimate sentiments with that person that you don’t share with your husband, or if you feel like your online companion understands you in a way that your spouse doesn’t. Be on guard if you are getting fed in any way by him or her that you don’t at home. Better to address the holes in your life and fill them in safe ways, even if you can’t within your marriage.
6. If you talk about your marriage or your spouse.
It’s disrespectful to share intimate details about your marriage or your spouse, and especially in a discourteous manner or with a flip attitude. Imagine that your wife was overhearing your entire conversation. Would you still say it?
7. If your spouse doesn’t like it.
You have just won a red flag if a husband or wife has expressed disapproval of your communications with X, because it usually means that either the content of the correspondence or the amount of it is off balance—that the interaction isn’t totally appropriate, or the time spent talking (online or offline) with the person is distracting from family life.
8. If your friend voices concern.
Pay attention if a good friend asks you why you are talking about this person so much, or if she says something like, “Wake up. You are married. He is married. You need to focus on what you have and stop obsessing about what you don’t.” Friends, sisters, and mothers can often identify the red flags before a person is willing to recognize them herself.
9. If your intentions are wrong.
Let’s say your wife is constantly knocking you down, nagging at you, telling you to lose 20 pounds because she didn’t intend to marry a beached whale. The natural, or at least easy, thing to do is to find an attractive woman who will feed your ego and tell you that you’re sexy, funny, smart, and so on. Some folks may unconsciously seek out an admirer to get their spouse to take notice of them. It can be effective! But it’s also manipulative. There are healthier ways to increase your self-esteem and regain the power that you have lost in your own home.