One of the preliminary steps to developing a strong foundation to your relationship is that of getting to know your partner. This includes learning about their feelings related to approval of friendships outside of the relationship. You really need to know if they accept friendships you already have and how they will feel about your associations with others in the future. This information will be helpful in knowing what friendships your partner may feel cross the line. Emotional affairs are very common and many platonic friendships seem to open the door to such affairs.
To begin let us define what an emotional affair is. In such friendships the partner gives an investment of emotional time and energy to the friendship. Not only that but he or she also receives emotional support and companionship.
As the platonic friendship grows and the emotional bonds get stronger there is a drain of the intimacy in the primary relationship. In fact, most experts consider emotional affairs as a form of cheating without sex. Studies have shown that emotional affairs very often open the door to full blown affairs.
Very often these friendships do start out innocently enough. But as they evolve there is an ever-increasing sharing of intimate information. The emotional affair is kept secret from the primary partner. And whether it is acknowledged or not, there is almost always a sexual attraction.
As time goes on time with the ‘friend’ becomes more interesting and important than time with the partner. The person involved in the emotional affair spends time thinking about the ‘friend’ when he or she is not around. There may be attempts at creating opportunities to have contact with the ‘friend’.
The partner involved in the friendship may be completely guilt-free due to the absence of sex in the friendship. But as the friendship grows the primary relationship is likely to deteriorate. Since the partner has a support person within the friendship he or she may feel it is no longer needed with the primary partner.
Because the partner does not share information about the friendship there are lies, deception and betrayal. The primary partner is likely to view the emotional affair as damaging as a sexual affair; in some cases even more so. It seems some of us can accept our partner venturing out for sexual variety but when our partner is seeking emotional support and companionship elsewhere we feel extreme pain and hurt feelings.
As the friendship is justified as just a friendship the involved partner may continue to rationalize that it is acceptable. Then eventually he or she may find that there is a greater bond with the ‘friend’ than with the primary partner. The problems that can arise can end a relationship.
By understanding your partner early in your relationship you will know what is acceptable in outside friendships. You have a responsibility to share your heartfelt sentiments related to such matters. This opens the floor for a discussion that could prevent lots of problems in the future.
If you find that you are involved in a friendship that may cross over into an emotional affair you can step back and examine what the real attraction is. In most cases it will be a warning sign that you need to work on your primary relationship and focus all emotional energy there.