- Dean Smith
The Commonality of Emotional Affairs
Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York–Presbyterian Hospital, and the author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, contributed to Oprah.com with an article focusing on the hurtful effects of emotional infidelity.
Some think, “I haven’t had any physical contact with anyone else, so it’s not cheating.” Wrong. According to Saltz, “Emotional cheating (with an ‘office husband,’ a chat room lover, or a newly appealing ex) steers clear of physical intimacy, but it does involve secrecy, deception, and therefore betrayal. People enmeshed in nonsexual affairs preserve their ‘deniability,’ convincing themselves they don’t have to change anything. That’s where they’re wrong. If you think about it, it’s the breach of trust, more than the sex, that’s the most painful aspect of an affair and, I can tell you from my work as a psychiatrist, the most difficult to recover from.”
Maybe your spouse is feeling mundane in the relationship, bored, frustrated, isolated, etc. There comes a time when some people decide that “it is what it is” and steer clear of attempting to improve their marriage. This opens up the door to trouble, and according to Saltz, “while they aren’t consciously in the market, they are ripe for an affair of the heart: hungry for attention, craving excitement, and eager for someone to fill the emptiness they feel inside.”
Your spouse may rely on another person for the emotional satisfaction that is no longer provided to them. Saltz is finding that this type of infidelity is becoming alarmingly common. And with today’s technology and an abundance of ways to privately connect with other individuals, emotional affairs (with can and do turn into sexual ones) are taking a toll on marriages everywhere.
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