Emotional Infidelity

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emotional infidelityWhat is infidelity in a relationship? Generally we think that it involves a sexual incident or relationship with someone else. There are those who deny the existence of infidelity by saying “nothing happened”, meaning, I did not have sex with that person.

However, there is another kind of infidelity which is just as damaging. It is emotional infidelity. This occurs when one has an opposite sex relationship where there is emotional intimacy. It is a fine line between friendship and emotional intimacy, but generally, individuals know when they have crossed the line, whether they are willing to admit it or not.

Emotional infidelity is characterized by a sense of secretiveness, and a sharing of deep parts of oneself which often are not shared with the spouse. Often conversations center on the shortcomings of the spouse, or the unsatisfying nature of the primary relationship. This is the beginning of the deconstruction of the relationship, for what is happening is that the primary bond of intimacy is being shifted to someone outside of the primary relationship.

It may begin innocently enough, over coffee or lunch with a co-worker. It could even be with a complete stranger one has met via the internet. There can still be emotional infidelity, even if the individuals never meet in person. Gradually the bond with the newcomer becomes stronger as the bond with the spouse continues to weaken.

Eventually the spouse begins to sense something has shifted. He or she may begin asking a lot of questions, or even making accusations. The response to this is usually one of anger and denial. This is when the crazy making really begins. The one who knows something is different gets accused of being paranoid, while the other becomes even more secretive in order to protect the outside relationship.

Even without sexual involvement, this is still cheating. It likely will destroy the relationship. It is probable that the relationship was in difficulty before all this, or the outside relationship would not have developed. However, the decent thing to do is first to work on the primary relationship, and if it cannot be salvaged, to end it before starting up with someone else. To carry on with someone else while in a relationship is demeaning to the partner, and dishonoring of the self.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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When Relationships Break Down
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