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Switch to Forum Live View Emotional Affair Cheating?
5 years ago  ::  Jun 09, 2009 - 2:59PM #31
Cesmom
Posts: 4,664

Jun 9, 2009 -- 2:19PM, withfearandtrembling wrote:


Dec 31, 1969 -- 6:00PM, Simon Jester wrote:

[ I disagree, with a sexual affair you are correct because it requires concrete dramatic action. However with an emotional affair there is no need for conscious thought about what you are doing.



I don't know. When my husband had his emotional affair, he consciously had to think about what restaurant he would have to take her out to lunch to. He consciously had to think about what lie to tell me each time he met her for drinks to talk to her for hours. He consciously had to think about what to e-mail her back and forth at work, and consciously chose his words. I don't buy the whole "I didn't know what I was doing before it was too late" bs. Maybe the feelings develop before you realize it, but choosing to act on the feelings by pursuing continued contact rather than cutting off contact as soon as you realize the feelings is a deliberate choice and a deliberate action.


Emotional affairs, like sexual affairs, may require LESS deliberate action, but they still require deliberate action and almost always entail lies, deceit, or obsfucation, which damages a marriage as much as the betrayal itself.




I am very sorry for what you have had to go through with your husband. 


You are very correct in that, emotional affairs do eventually require very deliberate action.  I think the point Simon Jester was trying to make is that, before it ever gets to the point that you're lying to your spouse about going for drinks, it has probably crossed the line into an inappropriately emotionally close friendship before you realize it.  You are already more invested than you should be when the lies start.  You are correct - the actions you choose to take at that point are no one's choice but your own. 


I hope that you and your husband can find a way to heal.

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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5 years ago  ::  Jun 10, 2009 - 2:32PM #32
Bestseller1
Posts: 3

In my opinion, If my husband has sex with anyone outside of our marriage, I consider that to be cheating BECAUSE he is giving to and receiving from someone else what he should be giving to and receiving from me, exclusively.  I don't understand how this would be different if it were physical or emotional.  The emotional bond that we share IS our relationship and sex is the expression of this bond...give away either and I'm going to call it cheating.

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5 years ago  ::  Jun 10, 2009 - 2:49PM #33
Cesmom
Posts: 4,664

Jun 10, 2009 -- 2:32PM, Bestseller1 wrote:


In my opinion, If my husband has sex with anyone outside of our marriage, I consider that to be cheating BECAUSE he is giving to and receiving from someone else what he should be giving to and receiving from me, exclusively.  I don't understand how this would be different if it were physical or emotional.  The emotional bond that we share IS our relationship and sex is the expression of this bond...give away either and I'm going to call it cheating.





The difference is that we share sex only with our spouse.  We share emotional bonds with our parents, children, siblings and friends.  That is normal and acceptable, but when you start sharing an emotional bond with a friend that oversteps the emotional bond with your spouse, you have a problem.  When you become too emotionally close to your friend and it's robbing emotional energy from your marriage, you have a problem.  When you start to sense the inappropriateness to the point that you feel compelled to hide it from your spouse, you definitely have a problem.  The thing is, unlike a physical affair which has definite and easily defined actions, an emotional affair can progress from innocent to inappropriate so seemlessly that it is not immediately noticed by those involved. 


I compare emotional vs. physical affair to emotional/mental abuse vs. physical abuse.  Both are equally wrong and equally painful.  One is just easier to detect sooner and a lot harder to deny or try to justify.  One has a solid line in the sand...the other one has a blurry line that you really have to be concious of and watch for.  Both can destroy a marriage.


 

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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5 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 1:15PM #34
Annmessenger
Posts: 348

May 31, 2009 -- 9:57AM, Stj wrote:


I have a question for the field. You recognize you are having an emotional affair. It is with an ex lover from 25years ago and has only been on the Internet and phone. You are trying to end it and you can't get the person out of your head. You are working to make things better in your marriage but the person consumes alot of your thoughts.


Do you tell your spouse? Do you keep working on your marriage and say nothing and hope you can clear your head?





I'm sorry I don't get back to this site as often as I'd like. However, thank you for posting this.


You say:  "You recognize you are having an emotional affair."  Well, how?  Are you planning to have sex with this person?  Are you planning to leave your spouse?  Are you lying to your spouse about this person, and the time you spend with them?  I am interested in where the line is drawn, and who draws it. 


Spinoza said that "every man is by indefeasible natural right the master of his own thoughts" and that laws prohibiting free thought can only result in "men thinking one thing and saying another...the corruption of good faith and the fostering of ...perfidy."  I personally am concerned that we bleed our lives white when we begin to monitor our emotions, as opposed to our physical conduct.


In your example you say "you cannot get the person out of your head."  I don't know what that means.  I'm a writer, I have friends who are writers, and in order to write, you spend alot of time not getting people out of your head.  I've known painters who have lavished hours on me, on my physical form. I've had a play written about me by an ex-lover with whom I'm now friends, who has not the slightest romantic interest in me but is fascinated by a certain period in our lives.  Interest, even obsession with someone else, does not mean that that is where the heart is going.


I think lying would be a big red flag, but then, everyone's idea of privacy is different.  I have friends who are very circumspect about what they are comfortable discussing, and others who will just blab away anything that crosses their minds.   And again, who determines what is private, and what is necessarily something the other person should know?  If I have lunch with another man, and we talk at some length about a past relationship, do I go home and tell my spouse?  How intelligent is the spouse?  How likely are they to deal with my previous relationships in an unbiased and unselfish way?  Is this someone who is likely to understand the personalities involved, or someone who will interpret things as they would if they had done them?  Some guys believe that once a man has slept with you, he can always do that again.  Of course this is ridiculous, but it is something that I've heard guys believe.  I wouldn't discuss anything with my spouse, if he believed that.  Other people believe men and women are incapable of friendship; there are all sorts of factors to take into account when deciding to discuss things with your spouse, and not all of them have to do with whether or not you are unhappy with your relationship.


Basically, I think what happens in a relationship is about the people in the relationship, and nothing else.  Obviously, if there is something with your marriage you should work on; other relationships aside. I don't think you can defend your relationship by policing your partner's emotional life. 

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5 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 1:37PM #35
Cesmom
Posts: 4,664

I think maybe one of the biggest issues is that this is something that so many couples just don't talk about at the beginning of their relationship -- what kind of friendships and relationships with other people that they each feel comfortable with.  It's much better to have the discussion upfront and come to a compromise on what both feel is appropriate, or decide that it's an area of incompatability that can't be overcome. 


My husband and I have a terrible area of incompatablity in this area.  He feels uncomfortable with most friendships that involve the opposite sex.  I personally wouldn't be at all bothered by him having lunch with an ex-girlfriend if he told me it was platonic.  We are on completely different ends of the spectrum on this one.  Had we hashed it out upfront, it may have been a deal-breaker, or we may have come to a compromise...who knows.  As it stands now, it's an area of discontentment in our marriage because neither of us can understand why the other doesn't see it our way.


I think the red flags of an emotional affair can vary based on the relationships, but I think most of us can kind of start to 'sense' when something is no longer feeling 'innocent' in a friendship.     

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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5 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 2:43PM #36
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407

Jun 17, 2009 -- 1:37PM, Cesmom wrote:

He feels uncomfortable with most friendships that involve the opposite sex.  I personally wouldn't be at all bothered by him having lunch with an ex-girlfriend if he told me it was platonic.  We are on completely different ends of the spectrum on this one.  Had we hashed it out upfront, it may have been a deal-breaker, or we may have come to a compromise...who knows.  As it stands now, it's an area of discontentment in our marriage because neither of us can understand why the other doesn't see it our way.


Although you cannot force him to see things your way, you can work to see and validate his point of view. By validate, I do not mean agreeing with it, since you have a different opinion, but rather first understanding what it is he has issue over and second acknowledging that he has a right to his point of view. Also, it helps to acknowledge points or agreement. For example, you are okay with him having lunch with an ex, but you are presumably not okay with all possible behaviors. For example, would you be okay if he gave her a hug after said lunch? Or a kiss on the cheek? What about a kiss on the lips? Each of you has legitimate concerns about what one does with others, you just draw the line at different places. It is easier to reach a mutually acceptable outcome from a place of commonality than from a perspective of opposite ends of a spectrum.


It would also help to have a dialogue about what the underlying needs and fears are. When there is lack of trust, it is usually because of an underlying fear, for example. What wants and needs are being met by a friendship with a member of the opposite sex? There is nearly always more ways than one to meet underlying needs and wants, and some of them may be perfectly acceptable to both. The starting place, imo, is validating the other's point of view as well as honoring one's own.

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5 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 3:41PM #37
Cesmom
Posts: 4,664

I can see what you are saying.  It really is one of the most difficult topics for us to discuss in our marriage.  Using the lunch example, I would personally draw the line at the hug is okay - the kiss is not.  The reason I would draw the line there is because I hug my friends and family all the time, so I don't see that as something reserved for the person you're romantically involved with.  Things beyond that, however, should be.  On the other end of the fence, his views would be that the lunch in itself was inappropriate.


The conversation goes a little something like this...he admits that he has insecurities about not meeting all of my needs (I appreciate the fact that he is now, after counseling, willing and able to admit this), then it becomes an issue of his being hurt if I want to have a friendship with a member of the opposite sex, and if I wish to continue the friendship, then it must be inappropriate because I am placing the value of the friendship over the value of not hurting him.  I don't know how to approach that way of thinking.  I explain that it can be just as hurtful to feel that your freedom is being squashed and feel like you are being controlled, which is the position I end up in when I feel like my interactions with every person in my life are being scrutinized. 


I have made the mistake in the past of hiding things from him to avoid a confrontation, which only fueled things and gave him a greater excuse for jealousy.  I have since learned that is not the answer, so most of the time, I just avoid contact with certain folks to avoid the fight.  Occassionally, I press the issue, but I have never been able to find a way for this to result in a positive understanding between us.  He still seems on his end of the world with this issue, and I am on my end of the world as well.  I usually try to blow it off, but occassionally I get frustrated and feel like I'm always the one to give in on this issue.  In my mind, it shouldn't have to be such a big issue in the first place.  Men and women should be able to have open friendships as long as they don't overstep the bounds into a romantic relationship. 


We come from completely different backgrounds, and sometimes that's exciting, but sometimes that is frustrating.  He was raised in a traditional family.  I was raised much more liberally.  I was the girl in school who had more 'guy friends' than 'girl friends'.  He had more girlfriends than guy friends, too, but his were actually 'girlfriends.'  I see where the difference in mentality comes from, but we still seem to butt heads on this one frequently.

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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5 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 8:02PM #38
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407

I would try to find out why he believes lunch with a platonic male friend would be "inappropriate." And also try to understand if there is a principle behind it - such as "It is always inappropriate to be alone with a member of the opposite sex." Presumably, then, he would also consider it inappropriate for him to have lunch with a female friend or colleague as well. Is it the being alone part - would it be just as not okay for you and a female friend to have lunch with a male friend for example?

On your side, there are very good reasons why having male friends is valuable. For one thing there are in particular individuals that you presumably enjoy interacting with. For another, a friend of the opposite sex can help one understand the other gender's thought processes at times. So your male friends can improve your relationship with your husband by helping you understand the male mind better, for example.

We are not designed to receive all our fulfillment from just one person. Indeed, I believe it is not at all healthy to even attempt that. Satisfying, loving, committed relationships are exclusive only in certain areas (sex for example) - and healthy relationships are in fact deepend by friendships.

If the issue is one of trust, it is very importan tto address, because it is impossible to build a loving relationship without trust.

I believe that there is a mutually acceptable satisfying solution to this dilemma. It will require negotiating and perhaps some outside-the-box thinking.

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5 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2009 - 8:47AM #39
Cesmom
Posts: 4,664

I do hope that you're right, and I do think it's worth trying to continue to communicate about between us.  I just have a feeling that this is one area where we are always going to butt heads and possibly never come to a mutually satisfying compromise.  I look to all of the positive things that we have in our marriage, and I don't see this as an issue that will lead us down the path to divorce or anything that drastic.  I just see it as a source of frustration that I am not sure will be resolved any time in the near future.

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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5 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2009 - 2:06PM #40
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407

I would encourage you to try to find a mutually acceptable solution, because my experience has been that issues like this can be like a pebble in the shoe of the relationship. In itself, certainly not threatening the relationship, but potentially building resentment over time, on boths sides. Wit hthe status quo, you resent not being able to be as free with platonic friendships as you'd like, and perhaps also the fact that you aren't being totally trusted. He likely feels some distrust - at least a low-level suspicion that you might be in fact still hiding things, since it was felt necessary in the past.

The issues involved are ones that over time can erode a relationship, and are complementary ones - his lack of trust and your resentment over that - which tend to fuel each other if not addressed. I would therefore encourage you to validate his feelings as a starting place.

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