It happened subtly. You can’t explain how it began. Casually. A simple compliment. A smile. A stare. A second look. And another. Before you knew it, thoughts were lingering. A desire to see him. A need to talk to her. You enjoyed. The talks. Easy. Longer talks. You talked about everything and anything.
Then, a liking developed. Something told you to stop, it kept telling you. But you didn’t. It was a thrilling experience. Others didn’t know about it. They still don’t. You called each other outside working hours. You texted a lot. There was chemistry. It was evident. Physical attraction. Nothing happened though. You wanted more out of this friendship but the truth was that you couldn’t have this person the way you wanted.
How did you get here? What is going on?
She wondered why he was distant. He asked himself why she wasn’t communicating as she used to. Yes, he always came home every night from work or other duties. She had classes to attend. But he was different. She was different. Their talk was mechanical, more about responsibilities. He was concerned day by day about how he looked. She criticized whatever he did. His heart was ever broken by her scathing remarks.
His relationship with his phone was unbelievable to her and became questionable. He walked with it everywhere, never leaving it out of sight. She became suspicious. She found a way to snoop around and found his messages. He found hers too. She was chatting with another man and quite frequently. The conversations were about everything, almost like they were dating. It broke her heart. It broke his heart. It was clear that there was a deep emotional connection with someone on the other side.
According to Sheri Stritof, an emotional affair is when a person not only invests more of their emotional energy outside their marriage but also receives emotional support and companionship from the new relationship. In an emotional affair, a person feels closer to the other party and may experience increasing sexual tension or chemistry.
Quite often, such relations may end up sexual. Many times, though, the parties don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing, because they are not engaged intimately, even though chances of getting physically intimate are quite high. This is why it is a deceiving relationship because one lies to himself or herself that they are okay because they aren’t sexually connected. It feels safe. There are no responsibilities in such relationships and, therefore, it is easy to connect with such a person, eventually opening up about your life and struggles. Leading to connecting emotionally.
What are some of the signs that you may be emotionally connected with someone else? You think of that other person often, even more than you think of your spouse in positive light. You share a lot of your life with this friend. You find yourself buying gifts and going out of your way for them. You keep finding ways to justify this friendship. And you become overly critical of your spouse because you are matching your spouse against your friend.
The effects on the other party or victim, however, are, and can be, quite devastating. The victim ends up losing trust in their partner, a fundamental element of their relationship. Trust is replaced by a lot of secrecy which, when discovered, results in a feeling of betrayal. The victim wonders whether there is anything he or she did to contribute to such cheating. Could it be that they were too busy or unavailable? Are they no longer physically and intellectually attractive? What can he or she do or stop doing so that the partner may come back to the relationship? It is so easy for the victim to end up feeling depressed or angry as a result of the emotional infidelity.
Many times, the victims make the mistake of blaming themselves for the wrongdoing of their partners. It is important for the person responsible for the cheating to take full responsibility. For it is emotional betrayal. Yes, there is a place to assess where one could have contributed to this resultant effect. But one should not take up the full responsibility of the partner’s actions because the partner is responsible for his or her doing to go astray.
Jennifer Karina in her book ‘Marriage Built to Last: Healing beyond Betrayal’ suggests a few tips to those who have emotionally betrayed their spouse.
1. Address your feelings honestly. What reasons made you consider straying in your relationship? Communicate with your spouse.
2. Seek counseling. More often than not, we need a third party to intervene to enable us address our issues as our judgment is clouded.
3. Spend time together and create opportunities to reconnect and work towards your relationship. Emotional distance could have brought you to this point.
4. Seek forgiveness. Forgiveness reopens the door to true intimacy and connection.
I’ll say this. Cut those links completely with the third party involved. Continuous contact may make it harder to move on.
True healing comes from a point of surrendering our pain to God. He is the Only One who can make us whole again. Moving forward with the person who has betrayed you may be hard but God gives strength to match on.
If you find yourself in a situation where the person you are with is emotionally cheating on their spouse, please leave that person alone. Seek repentance and do not go back. Don’t be the reason a couple is struggling to stay together.
For each one of us, it is best to be careful to avoid finding ourselves in compromising situations or friendships with the opposite sex. If you are in a relationship, please stay true to the one you are with. If you find that your spouse or the person you’re dating is constantly finding him/herself in such situations, please ensure that the matter is handled with the seriousness it deserves. Recognize what is going on and seek help.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear; All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.