The Slippery Slope of Affairs

Emotional affair

Dr. Shirley Glass has done extensive research on infidelity, and her book “Not ‘Just Friends'” is the basis for this post. She has found that roughly 2/3 of the couples she has treated through couple counseling have experienced infidelity. Because many affairs go unreported, it is difficult to predict exactly how common they are. Dr. Glass’ research indicates that approximately 50% of married couples have at least one partner cheat. Unfortunately, the modern world and the internet have made it easier than ever to be unfaithful.

It can start innocently enough. Perhaps a partner starts confiding with a friend of their attracted gender at work about marital problems at home. Maybe a partner starts by sharing more with a co-worker that may spend more time with them than a committed partner with the partner. The intentions can be good to start. However, when research has shown that many modern affairs originate as peer relationships. See the infidelity page for specific information.

Many people are surprised to learn (especially men) that affairs can be exclusively emotional. While the most damaging affairs are emotional and physical, emotional affairs can wreck a committed relationship or marriage. One key is whether you are upfront and share emotional conversations with others, with your partner. For example, does your partner know you have lunch every day with someone of the opposite sex? Does your partner know you talk more about your kids and your life with this person than with them? Are you sneaking around, sending texts you would prefer to keep hidden, or thinking more about this person than your partner?

You may be having an emotional affair and not even realize it. The following quiz may shed some light.

Quiz: Has Your Friendship Become an Emotional Affair *

1. Do you confide more to your friend than to your partner about how your day went?

2. Do you discuss negative feelings or intimate details about your marriage with your friend but not with your partner?

3. Are you open with your partner about the extent of your involvement with your friend?

4. Would you feel comfortable if your partner heard your conversation with your friend?

5. Would you feel comfortable if your partner saw a videotape of your meetings?

6. Are you aware of sexual tensions in this friendship?

7. Do you and your friend touch differently when you’re alone than in front of others?

8. Are you in love with your friend?

Scoring Key:

You get one point for yes to questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and one point for each no to 3, 4, 5.

If you scored near 0, this is just a friendship,

If you scored 3 or more, you may not be “just friends.”

If you scored 7-8, you are definitely involved in an emotional affair.

* This quiz by Shirley P. Glass was first printed in USA Today (June 20, 1988) in an article by Karen Peterson, “When platonic relationships get too close for comfort,” p. 6D.