It started out innocently enough. Angela and Mike, both married, met during their kids’ weekly soccer games. At first, the conversation revolved around their children, but as the two grew closer, the topic at hand changed from parenting to personal life. They met frequently outside of the games to catch a movie or walk on the beach. They talked about their dreams, passions and even the problems in their marriages. Angela lied to her husband about her whereabouts, but eventually he figured out how much time she was really spending with Mike…
“You’re having an affair!” he shouted when he confronted her.
“No I’m not,” she replied. “He never touched me!”
What do you think: Was she having an affair or not? According to an AskMen.com dating survey, 74% of men think that cheating begins with a kiss.
But the women had other ideas. Being unfaithful, they said, goes beyond physical contact. A close friendship with the opposite sex, in which an intense and secretive emotional bond is formed, counts as cheating, too.
Not “Just Friends”
You have a blast with a guy friend from high school. You gab on the phone, go out to dinner and shop together. Does this automatically mean that you’re cheating on your husband? Not necessarily.
The telltale sign of an emotional affair is “if your primary emotional gratification is outside the relationship and your partner is excluded,” says Ann Langley, Ph.D., a California-based marriage and family therapist.
“If you’re consistently going to your friend for the emotional nourishment that you’re not getting from your husband, there’s a good chance you’re having an emotional affair,” she explains.
The verdict: It’s not a crime to pal around with a guy. But problems can arise if these two things happen:
1. You withdraw emotionally (and possibly physically) from your husband.
2. You spend most of your emotional energy on your male friend.
It’s Just a Little Crush
There’s a cute new guy at the office, and you’re enjoying the view. Are you committing emotional infidelity?
“Everybody has crushes, all the time,” says Langley. “We’re all sexual beings and having crushes is a normal part of life.” After all, you’re married, not blind!
But if you can’t stop thinking about the new kid on the block, then you may be crossing the line, especially if you:
-Think about him when you’re with your husband.
-Seriously wonder what it would be like to be in a relationship together.
It’s one thing to have a harmless fantasy, but it’s quite another to fantasize about turning your dreams into reality.
If you just can’t get Mr. Coworker out of your head, ask yourself this: “Am I in love with him or am I just unhappy in my marriage?”
Odd Man Out
Do you go to coed parties without your guy? If so, why? Is it so you can:
-Gossip with your girls
-Flirt with your guy “friend”
We’ll leave it up to you to decide which answer may signal emotional infidelity.
Many women don’t introduce their spouse to their male friends because they’re “afraid the husband will be alerted to the emotional bond that exists between them,” says M. Gary Neuman, a Florida-based psychotherapist and author of Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage (Crown Publishing Group).
If your friend is truly just a friend, then of course you’re allowed to hang out together. The problem arises when you start lying to your husband about your whereabouts or “if you start making excuses to be with that person,” Neuman says.
Share the Love
How can you have a close male friend without crossing the line? “Share the friendship with your husband,” says Langley. Invite your friend over to meet him, or double-date.
“Secrecy and clandestine behavior are the hallmark of an affair,” Langley says. So if you’re open with your husband about your male friend and you have nothing to hide, then there’s no secrecy… and a lot less chance of emotional infidelity.
Are You or Aren’t You?
“You should know in your heart if you’re getting excitement that you’re not getting from your spouse,” says Neuman.
When you’re with your male friend, ask yourself these questions:
– Would I be ashamed if my husband was watching?
– Would I be hurt if my husband acted this way with a female friend?
Use your woman’s intuition. If you know deep down that you’re doing something wrong, then you are.
Most emotional affairs begin because “something is lacking in the context of your marriage,” says Neuman. So to prevent infidelity in the first place, pay close attention to your relationship with your spouse.
“Relationships are like a garden,” Langley says. “They’re a living, growing thing that needs attention – they die if they don’t receive enough water and sunshine.”
To rekindle the spark in your relationship, follow these tips:
1. Do a Date Night
Get out of the house! Play tennis, take a walk or check out a new band. And while you’re out, talk and get reacquainted with each other. The only rule? “Don’t talk about work, the kids or money,” Neuman says.
This is the time to focus on fun and have a good time, so save the business conversations for later.
2. Have a Second Honeymoon – Monthly
Try Neuman’s idea: Once a month, make it all about sex. Dim the lights, put on a CD and indulge yourselves. This doesn’t mean that you should only have sex once a month – it just means that one night a month should be entirely devoted to lovemaking.
If you want to add even more spice, “let excitement about your sexual encounter build up,” Langley says.
Call each other during the day as a reminder about what will happen later on. This will add passion and intrigue to your rendezvous.
3. Get Away Together
“Every couple should get away twice a year,” Langley says. Just the act of planning your trip and the anticipation of the fun you’ll have will help you and your husband connect again. And you should have an even better time once you actually get there.
For more advice on keeping up the passion in your marriage, read 5 Secrets for Making Love Last and 9 Ways to Date Your Mate.
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