We all need emotional release just as we need physical release. Other than this principle, the idea of emotional infidelity is real enough, but somewhat confused in its formulation. In my opinion, it's simply foolish to disregard the strong association between opposite-sex friendships in marriage and infidelity. Before you know it, the spouse and his or her extra-marital friend are comforting each other, turning to each other for advice, sharing details of their intimate life and relationships, and texting each other with increasing frequency and intimacy. Friendships with high levels of emotional intimacy, particularly I would venture among women, are held in high regard as a valuable resource. The spouse begins to leave the room to text his or her opposite-sex friend, leaving the other spouse in a state of anger, anxiety and profound hurt.
When asked to end the friendship, the spouse often becomes indignant or outright belligerent, and may try to turn the entire situation around so that his or her spouse must go on the defensive, desperately trying to explain -- to no avail -- why the opposite-sex friendship is wrong and how it is affecting the marriage. But it's a different story when you're going through a temporary "down" or rough patch in your relationship. In my opinion, it's simply foolish to disregard the strong association between opposite-sex friendships in marriage and infidelity. The spouse begins to leave the room to text his or her opposite-sex friend, leaving the other spouse in a state of anger, anxiety and profound hurt. You certainly owe your partner emotional loyalty, but I do not know precisely how this is defined. Check out Debra's new book: When this happens, many people turn to their opposite-sex friend as a shoulder to cry on. If they manage to befriend your spouse, get ready for a world of trouble and drama. Visit her website at MarriageSOS. Some people will say that they've always had opposite-sex friendships and that shouldn't change just because they get married. Does emotional infidelity always happen across genders in a heterosexual relationship? Indeed, many opposite-sex friendships are maintained because of a simmering attraction. It ignores the reality that every marriage goes through ups and downs. As the excitement of their forbidden friendship grows, the dynamics in the marriage deteriorate. This kind of opposite-sex friend may come across as innocent, but is drawn to someone who is already "taken" and can be very manipulative and aggressive in their pursuit of this person. It isn't weak or insecure to do this. Is using a third party for your emotional release a breach of trust or a reasonable response to a clogged-up emotional outlet? It takes a strong person to stand by their values and to insist that there be no opposite-sex friendships within marriage. One or both people are keeping their "friend" on the back-burner as a potential mate in the event their current relationship ends. When you're "up," things are great and the opposite-sex friendship may be mostly harmless although it still may be an irritation to the other spouse. Share via Email Emotional infidelity is difficult to define. Opposite-sex friendships can also sneak-up on people in otherwise happy relationships, particularly when the opposite-sex friend is a "partner predator," something I describe in my latest book, Couples in Crisis: We all need emotional release just as we need physical release. Of course, we all need close friendships outside of our marriage; however, there are plenty of people of our own gender to befriend. When a person gets married or enters into an exclusive committed relationship, that person expects to be his or her partner's lover, closest and most intimate confidante, and priority. It may be but, let's face it, many men still only befriend women they have at least some degree of physical attraction to.
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