Or was it a friendship situation?
That's right, the age old question- when friends of the opposite sex (if straight) or friends of the same sex (gay/lesbian) spend time together away from their significant other, does that constitute friendship or an emotional affair?
I have male friends. I do. I keep them strictly platonic. Which means: I am rarely alone with them outside of work, I don't have long conversations on the phone with them, and we aren't sending each other extensive text messages.
My friend has a friend that is slowly creeping into the almost-non-platonic-flirty-stage. She shared a few scenarios, and CLEARLY this guy is into her. I could be reading it all wrong, but it seems that he is opening the door to a possible "other" relationship. Typically, this would not be that big of a deal because my friend is married and has been for over ten years. HOWEVER she admitted something... she finds herself questioning her current situation.
That's completely easy to understand. Someone new comes into your life and suddenly there is both a physical and mental attraction. It's hard to ignore that. Many people meet/make friends with other people that if given a different time and place, things could have been/would have been different.
The question she put on the table was: if she entertains this flirtation and allows him in emotionally (not physically.. she is drawing the line there,) is that an affair?
We debated the scenario for well over an hour. After she left, I decided to do a little digging online, to see what the experts say.
I found some interesting questions you should ask yourself on Oprah.com. According to this article, you can determine if you are in an emotional affair if you do the following:
One thing I shared with my friend was that I did not think that most emotional affairs start out as something you are seeking. I just believe that this other person is fulfilling some emotional void that her significant other is not able to. Does that make it right? Well.. of course not. However, I did admit to her - she looked happier than I had ever seen her. Seriously - glowing, almost.
She and I discussed how hard it is to maintain relationships. I agreed with her and shared with her my own issues. If you have been following my blog for years now, you know that I have hit some massive bumps with my egyptian. It is no secret to my friends, coworkers or family that he and I live what almost seems like separate lives. My hope is that we are able to heal our relationship, but currently, I seem to be the only willing participant in that regard.
I explained to my friend that I understood where she was coming from. That I could see the allure and appeal of letting someone else in to fill that emotional void - but I also warned her of other issues that could arise. See, she and I are both Catholic. We know that the idea of divorce is frowned upon (seriously frowned upon,) and that sometimes.. we end up staying in situations that make no sense at all. We discussed how she felt appalled by the idea of a physical affair.. so I told her that I seriously doubt she will find herself in a situation where that would happen. However, I did warn her- the temptation may present itself.. then what?
She and I debated about whether her friendship with this other person was considered cheating. I found some more questions on Oprah.com that could help her clarify:
- Do you avoid telling your partner how much time you spend or talk with the other person?
- Do you tell this person more about your day than your partner? Do you even tell him about your marital dissatisfaction?
- Do you "ready your appearance" to see him?
- Is there a sexual attraction (spoken or unspoken) between you?
- Would you feel guilty if your partner saw you together?
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Emotional-Affairs-101/2#ixzz27v7kcqht
With all the availability and temptation, how can you protect yourself from drifting into an emotional affair?
- Don't flirt. Flirting leads to attractions and warm feelings you will start to crave.
- Be aware when at work and on the Internet. These are high-risk places where emotional affairs typically start.
- Look out for the state of your marriage. You are more vulnerable to an affair when you are dissatisfied with your current partner.
- Don't go out alone with an old lover. If you have nothing to hide, include your partner.
- Don't hang out with others who cheat. Your moral compass can be swayed if it gets reinforced by the behavior of others
Then there comes the other question - Are you JUST friends? Friends have chemistry, friends laugh, friends share.. so what is the difference? I have tons of male friends that I have amazing chemistry with. That does NOT mean anything inappropriate is happening.
That's the question I pose to you tonight. When is it cheating and when is it just friendly flirtation? Or is there such a thing?
Hmmm.. interesting.. interesting...