Emotional Affairs: Five Signs You Are Crossing the Line in Your Relationship

Published: 24th January 2008
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One question I am often asked is, if you are married, is it okay to have an opposite-sex friend, or is it considered cheating? My general response is, it depends! Opposite-sex friendships seem to a great deal of conflicts in married relationships.

It's great to be social and to want to have friends, especially with those people you have established a solid friendship with over the years. However, you can go too far, and cross the line when it comes to having relationships with others, and sometimes it does turn into a type of affair, even if there is no sexual contact involved.

There are several issues that come into play when it comes to affairs. Some people who are married or in serious relationships are very comfortable with having friends of the opposite gender, while others are more comfortable having friends of the same gender.

Many times each couple needs to establish acceptable boundaries to themselves. Some jealousy exists in most relationships. Most people feel insecure at one time or another, and the fear of being cheated on is very powerful and in some cases consuming to people, especially if they have been cheated on before. Being best friends with your ex is usually not a good idea, and tends to cause more trouble than it is worth to a marriage.

Here are five signs you may be crossing the line:

1.Is there physical attraction between you and your friend? If so, this is easily picked up by a perceptive spouse and may cause a problem, especially if there is flirting between you. This can be extremely problematic if the physical intimacy between you has suffered.

2. Is your spouse possessive or insecure about themselves or their relationship to you? Many people worry they will be cheated on and feel the need to stop opposite-sex friendships before they start. If your spouse is too controlling or verbally abusive, then that is a red flag and you may need some marital counseling to resolve your conflicts. If the situation coninues to escalate, you may need to look at finding an exit strategy for the relationship.

3. Are you having an emotional affair? Emotional affairs are those where there is some element of romance or a deeper friendship between the two "friends" than between the married couple. The reason this is problematic is that there is a perceived breech of trust when one married partner tells their deepest darkest secrets to their "friend" while their spouse feels left out and angry.

4. Is there a double standard in the relationship? In some relationships, one person feels it is okay for them to have opposite-sexed partners, but not okay for their spouse to. The main reason for this is that they believe they can control themselves, but that their partner might be lured away by another person. This relates to their insecurities. If there is a double standard, then this should be discussed with your spouse.

5. Are you in love or infatuated with your friend? Sometimes you might find yourself infatuated with your friend, especially at the beginning or if you don't see them too often. It is easy to fall into this trap, because you don't share responsibilities with your friend as you do with your spouse (kids, household chores, bills, etc.) You may need to cut ties with your friend in that case.

Logically, men and women should be able to be friends, but it can become complicated if there are unexpected feelings or attractions that develop. It is important to check your own reactions. If the friendship is interfering with your marriage, talk about it with your spouse and try to correct the situation.

If your friend is strictly platonic and you have no interest in them sexually or romantically, then try including them in your family activitites or setting them up with one of your friends if they are single and interested in a relationship.

If if your friend is married, why not arrange a double date with you and your mate and do something fun? Let the guys get to know each other as well as the gals. Keep things light; avoid sharing deep desires or intimate secrets with your friend, which may be seen as a betrayal to your husband. Reassure your spouse that you are exclusive, and that they are the only one you love.

I invite you to sign up for our free quarterly relationship ezine or to take the Ultimate Compatibility Quiz at http://www.healingcouch.com. You can also send a burning relationship question to DrBloom@healingcouch.com

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