I’m not even sure calling it an “affair” is the correct term. Sure, it can turn into one, but I think the initial stage is more of a connection – an emotional connection with someone other than your spouse is a dangerous door to peek through.
This is my response to the following Momversation video, which, incidentally, you’ll have to click over to watch if you’re reading this via email or RSS feed. Sorry about that.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
“I’m his wife, not his life.”
That line probably ranks as one of my favorite top-ten sayings. It packs such a punch, don’t you think? And I would have agree. Kevin and I are close, but I wouldn’t presume that his world revolves around mine, nor mine his. He is free to do things with his band buddies, and I’m free to pursue my own interests.
Within reason, of course.
I tell him everything, whether he wants to hear it or not. I know that a lot of what I tell him, my thoughts, feelings, hunches, and mundane details of everyday living goes in one ear and out the other. I can tell when he’s not really paying attention and only humoring me and I’m generally okay with his lack of interest – after all, it IS boring and a lot of times I’m spewing just to get it off my chest or I’m trying to work something out in my own head.
I tell him everything because he’s all I have. I don’t have a close girlfriend to confide in and sometimes I just need to clear my head or it will explode. And that’s NEVER a pretty sight, let me assure you.
I tell him everything because he’s my best friend. So I guess I have trouble understanding why a woman wouldn’t WANT to tell her husband everything because I have a hard time understanding why a woman would marry a man she didn’t at least consider a close friend.
And I’m talking emotionally, not physically.
Hey, I get it. Men are not emotional creatures. I don’t expect them to be, I wouldn’t WANT them to be. I like my men to be MEN, thank you very much. (Which loosely translates into a male who is confident with himself, with his opinions and beliefs and who isn’t wishy-washy or squeamish).
However, women are very much emotional creatures. Women connect first and foremost via emotions, so when a man attempts to connect with her on an emotional level, then that relationship is taken to a whole new level.
Whether you’re married or not.
I think we need to differentiate between what you would tell a friend and what you would tell a lover. I really like what Maggie said about there being a difference between “emotional sustenance” and “having an affair.” Women crave emotional sustenance. It’s how we’re programmed. The key to opening up any woman is to tap into her emotional needs. And by that I mean, listening to her, making her feel special, respecting her opinions, being playful with her (without being too sexual, at least initially, men have to build that bridge before crossing it), making her feel sexy and beautiful THEN, and only after THEN, can a woman fully respond to sexual advances.
Just like with orgasms, women take a while to reach that heightened pleasure because it’s not about physically teasing her, (though that certainly HELPS), but rather about emotionally teasing her first.
So when a woman feels like she can connect with a man on an emotional level, she’s instantly attracted to that man (and not necessarily physically, but on a deeper, more intimate level – remember, it’s about emotions for women, not physical), she has to be very careful how far she allows the attraction to advance. Especially if she’s committed to another person because it’s soooo easy to fall into an emotional trap – especially if the woman’s emotional needs aren’t being met at home.
(Which is a lesson for you men out there – fill your woman’s emotional cup up and you’re pretty much good to go on every other level).
When you have an emotional affair with someone, you’re allowing yourself to value that person’s feelings more than your spouse’s feelings. You begin to think about that person more than you think about your spouse. You begin to pay attention to your appearance because now that that emotional abyss has been crossed, the next step is a physical validation. You know that special someone is attracted to you emotionally, now let’s see if they’re physically attracted to you. You have reserved a spot in your heart for that special “friend” and before long, there is no longer any room in your heart for your spouse.
Here is a pretty good definition from About.com:
An emotional affair can lead to a physical affair
An emotional affair begins with the exchange of personal information. As the people involved get acquainted, the information becomes more personal. Some argue that an emotional affair is harmless because it is more of a casual relationship than traditional cheating; however, the intimate nature of the communication, plus the emotional investment made by the people involved, places an emotional affair on the same level or worse as traditional cheating.
It is much more dangerous for a marriage should your spouse connect with someone emotionally than physically. Anyone who finds himself or herself drawn to another person on an emotional level should consider the possible consequences of such an affair. Emotional affairs are just as likely to lead to divorce and physical affairs.
The danger of an emotional affair
While it is healthy and normal for people to have friendships outside the marriage with men and women, an emotional affair threatens the emotional bond between spouses. Friendships are based on attraction, in that we are drawn to various qualities of our friends. Healthy friendships and attractions don’t need to threaten a marriage at all, but add richness and enjoyment to life. When an attraction turns into an obsession or into an affair, it can become harmful to everyone involved and nothing is more harmful to a marriage than the breakdown of the emotional bond marital partners have for each other.
It really boils down to respect. I respect Kevin too much to put me, or him, in an emotionally charged situation. Hence the biggest reason I haven’t “friended” any old boyfriends on Facebook. That’s just not a door I’m not willing to, nor should, open. Ever. I expect the same from him. Once you’ve opened yourself up to another person, then it’s just too easy to go down that same road again.
It’s better just to block off that road altogether.
Keep friendships with the opposite sex platonic. If it feels like it’s crossing the platonic line, then cut it off, no matter how painful it might be. Your spouse deserves the chance to fill the same void that “friend” was filling. And that can only happen if you open the lines of communication. TALK to your spouse. Seek marriage counseling if the two of you can’t bridge the communication gap. All marriages deserve at least one fighting chance.
Think you might be heading toward an emotional affair? Here are some warning signs then build a relationship with a foundation of friendship and trust.
Here’s a comment from the momversation page that addresses Rebecca’s “I’m his wife, not his life,” comment.
The way I see it is if one shares feelings, secrets, and precious thoughts with someone else either than their spouse then the marriage is in trouble to begin with. I would be heart broken if I found out my husband did not think that we were at that intimate level and had to find someone else to share it with.
I completely agree.
We all crave a deep, emotional bond with other human beings – whether it’s a platonic connection (close friends) or a deep emotional connection (a serious relationship). I would propose that if one is not getting that deep, emotional connection with one’s spouse, then there might be some underlying problems that deserve further attention. I don’t think willingly having emotionally “satisfying” relationships outside of the marriage is exactly a wise decision.
Yet another argument to slow down and choose your life partner carefully. If there isn’t an emotional connection to begin with, then maybe that’s not the relationship for you.
Just food for thought.Follow @writefromkaren