Dangerous Friendships

How to recognize an emotional affair and rectify your marriage
Dangerous Friendships

The emotional affair is like the physical affair's cousin: more subtle, deeply rooted in feelings, and in many cases, much more destructive. Some emotional affairs start simply because one husband spends time with someone of the opposite sex and a friendship is formed. What can that hurt—right?

There's nothing wrong with men and women being friends. But it's not the friendship itself that's the real issue; it's when the friendship crosses a line into something else.

The Sneaky Ways Emotional Affairs Start

Emotional affairs often start at places like work, community or church committees, or online. Two people become close by sharing inside jokes, going to each other for emotional support, or taking some "quick" coffee breaks together, and soon an emotional attachment is formed. It all starts innocently enough, but it can escalate quickly.

When you're married or in a relationship, you need to establish clear boundaries with your opposite-sex friends, such as:

• Don't vent to your friend about your marriage or share secrets about your husband.

• Don't hide the things you do with a friend from your spouse, including emails, texting, or Facebook exchanges.

• Don't compare your husband to your friend.

• Invite others along to lunch, coffee, and so on rather than it just being the two of you.

Signs You May Be Engaging in an Emotional Affair

Not every emotional affair begins because a person is unhappy in her marriage. Sometimes life just gets busy and you end up seeing your friend (at work, for example) more often than you see your spouse. Or perhaps you've been having some difficult times in your marriage, and while you still love your husband, you start feeling closer to your friend and you begin divulging some of your feelings and struggles.

If you're wondering whether or not you're in an emotional affair, here are some signs:

• You can't wait to get to work to see your friend.

• When something great happens, the first person you want to tell is your friend.

• You feel like you and your friend are emotional soul mates.

• You've imagined yourself kissing your friend.

• You're emailing or texting your friend and keeping it from your spouse.

If you're hiding things from your husband or feel as if you're doing something wrong (or at the very least, questionable), it's time to examine your friendship. This is the critical time when you can do something about your emotional affair before it ruins your marriage.

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May 25

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