It all starts innocently enough…
You become friends with the sexy co-worker and decide to carpool to work together. You become “friends” with an ex on Facebook and reminisce about the past. Pretty soon, you find yourself glowing every time you spend time with this person. They totally “get” you. You can talk about anything. You spend hours thinking about them and your heart races whenever you see a text from them. You feel more alive than you have in a long time.
There’s just one small problem. You’re married, or engaged, or you’re in a committed relationship. You tell yourself it’s ok because you’re not really cheating, you’re just chatting. You’re not having sex, you’re just friends. Right?
Not really. Okay, so you haven’t had sex. At least not yet. But you are having emotional sex, and that can be even more intense, sensual and all-consuming than physical sex.
What is emotional sex?
Emotional sex is a friendship that escalates into something that feels the same as romantic love and can manifest itself in numerous ways — physically, romantically, emotionally, lustfully, verbally, or virtually.
Friendship becomes emotional sex when the feel-good brain chemicals and hormones that are released when even thinking about that person take over. Any contact with the person becomes as potent as a drug addiction.
All those tingly feelings and the fantasies that perhaps a “perfect love” can really exist isn’t destiny knocking — they’re caused by “love chemicals” in your brain. Biochemical research has shown that the effect of these love chemicals is twofold: they are released in response to your friend, and they bond you to him or her. This is especially true of women who produce higher levels of oxytocin — the bonding hormone that enhances the feeling of having found your “soul mate” connection.
These addictive love chemicals feel so good that it’s difficult for you to even imagine ending contact with your friend. Your connection feels genuine and even life-sustaining. Letting go of such intoxicating nourishment seems unimaginable.
Before you are tempted to do something risky — like leave your stable, good relationship for your exciting emotional lover — it’s important to examine what’s really going on.
Has Your Platonic Friendship Crossed the Line?
There’s a huge difference between a platonic friendship and a friendship that has crossed the line into the emotional sex danger zone.
A platonic friendship doesn’t have elements of sexual chemistry or attraction. You may love your friend, but you don’t fantasize or daydream about him or her. Everything is out in the open. Your partner can join in at any time.
In contrast, emotional sex is much more secretive and it drains energy from your primary relationship. If you’re having intimate talks and sharing things you should only be sharing with your primary partner, or you’re sending late night ‘just thinking of you’ flirty texts, you’re not having just an innocent friendship.
If you find yourself having sexual or romantic fantasies about your friend, you’ve crossed the line into emotional sex. You may argue you’re just Facebook friends, or you’re just innocently flirting and it means nothing. But no matter how you may rationalize it, these are huge trumpet blaring warning signs that your friendship is crossing the line into emotional sex, and therefore cheating.
The Warning Signs That You’re Vulnerable to Cheating
Infidelity is as old as civilization. But in today’s technology-driven world, meeting, staying connected, and getting intimate has never been easier or more dangerous. Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, your love “fix” is never far away.
In truth, most infidelity occurs not because it is planned, but because people find themselves in situations where their emotions completely overwhelm (and even surprise) them. While people trapped in troubled marriages are more vulnerable to infidelity, I’ve discovered that a surprising number of people in seemingly solid relationships also respond to the novelty of new love and end up getting swept away by an affair.
Having an affair is usually a symptom of an underlying problem in your life and in your relationship. Something is missing, and that missing element makes you vulnerable to temptation. You may turn to emotional intimacy with another to fill in the missing piece.
These are the five warning signs that your relationship is vulnerable to cheating:
1. You feel lonely
You may share the same address but live in two different worlds. You’re spending less time together due to work, the children, or separate interests.
2. Lack of communication
Small issues turn into disagreements and power struggles. You give each other the silent treatment. You may feel under-appreciated, bottled up, or like you’re walking on tiptoes not to rattle any cages.
3. Lack of love, affection and intimacy
4. Boredom, complacency and emotional distance
Your relationship has become routine. You long for more emotional or sexual attention from your partner, but it feels like a wall exists between you.
5. A sexual disconnect
You feel more like roommates than lovers. The attention and affection has dwindled, and you no longer see each other through the eyes of desire.
Affairs don’t have to be sexual to be destructive to your existing relationship. Emotional sex can be even more enthralling than physical sex, and it can cause the same havoc, mistrust and betrayal in a relationship as sexual infidelity, often leading to a break-up.
The first step to healing is completely disengaging from your emotional lover, then recognizing the weaknesses in your primary relationship and addressing them immediately. Only then can you bring stable footing to your relationship and start infusing it with the love, attention, appreciation, and affection you and your partner both deserve.
- Sheri Meyers: Is My Partner Cheating on Me? 7 Red Flags (huffingtonpost.com)
- 18 Signs You’re About To Cheat (huffingtonpost.com)
- Different types of affairs – yes, it matters (recoveringwayward.wordpress.com)
- Once a cheater, always a cheater; Adultery, Monogamy & Open Relationships – Dude 101 (kevinhunter.wordpress.com)
- The Eight Reasons that People Cheat on Their Partners (psychologytoday.com)
- Sex is the “glue” in a marriage (recoveringwayward.wordpress.com)
- Vicki Larson: Are Kids Learning How To Be Unfaithful in College? (huffingtonpost.com)
Sheri Meyers is AUTHOR of the book “Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship”