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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Relationships: Are You Having An Emotional Affair?

How It Starts:
It can start out innocently enough: You begin meeting your coworker for coffee and become increasingly engrossed in conversations. After a while, you find that you don't want others to join you because you want to spend this time only with this person. You begin to share your feelings with this person in ways that you don't with your partner. You feel a lift after your conversations and look forward to the next time. Maybe a flirtation has begun. You feel that your coworker understands you in ways that your partner does not. Soon, you're emailing and texting each other and you're not telling your partner about it because you tell yourself that he or she wouldn't understand. You tell yourself that you're not hurting anyone by keeping this a secret. Or are you?

Are You Having an Emotional Affair?

Where It Can Go:
If any of this sounds familiar to you, chances are you're having an emotional affair. Emotional affairs are not as obvious as sexual affairs, but they are a form of infidelity. People who engage in emotional affairs will often rationalize that they're not doing anything wrong because nothing sexual is taking place. But what they don't see is that these emotional affairs take away from your relationship with your partner because you're getting your primary needs met by someone else.

Very often, emotional affairs can lead to sexual affairs. Over time, you keep telling yourself that you're not doing anything wrong and you keep pushing the boundaries of the emotional affair so that coffee breaks lead to lunches which lead to intimate dinners and drinks which can lead to sexual involvement as you rationalize your way from one step to the next.

Why Emotional Affairs Are So Compelling:
Emotional affairs can be so seductive. They feel good because someone new is paying attention to you and finding what you have to say interesting. This, in turn, can be such an ego boost. You feel more attractive, younger and more alive than you've felt in a long time. This is all heady stuff and hard to give up.

What to Do:
If you love your partner and don't want to ruin your relationship, you need to give up the emotional affair and figure out what's missing in your relationship. Talk to your partner. Maybe the two of you have gotten into a rut. Maybe you're both so busy with the children or other family obligations that you've stopped taking time for yourselves and there's less intimacy in your life. Maybe your sex life together has gotten stale (or, possibly nonexistent). Try to find new ways to reconnect emotionally and physically.

Sometimes, old resentments that have festered can get in the way of reconnecting in a meaningful way. If you're both really stuck and don't know what to do to save your relationship, it might be time to consider marriage counseling.

A professional marriage counselor can help you to revitalize and renew your relationship.

I am a psychotherapist and marriage counselor in NYC.

To find out more about me, visit my web site: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

Feel free to call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com for a consultation.