Being in a relationship changes as technology changes. Social Media and smartphones are heavily playing a part in our relationships and it’s hard to deny. In the past, when you moved on from relationships, people disappeared from your life until a chance encounter brought them back. Now, they are just a search bar or click away. It’s easy to find the “one that got away” and it’s easy to convince yourself that they didn’t get away for a reason. If you are unhappy in your life, there are a million websites that will help you escape from responsibility. The internet is full of weapons of mass distraction and they will blow up your life in ways you may not be ready for.
An emotional affair can be defined as follows’
“A relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or lover) that has an impact on the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage. The role of an affair is to create emotional distance in the marriage. – Wikipedia
I am familiar with the damage an outside “friendship” can cause within a relationship. It wasn’t like a physical affair where he had to leave the house to be with someone else. She was in his mind. He could go to her when he wanted to. She was as far away as his phone or hitting the power button on the computer. She was always waiting for him and he was dreaming about their next intimacy even while he was lying beside me or watching television. While he was enjoying her presence, I was haunted by it. I couldn’t fight with her. I couldn’t compete with a fantasy when I was a flesh and blood woman. Meanwhile, she got all of the sympathy and connection that should’ve been there for me to access. I wasn’t even allowed to know anything about her or what they talked about unless I searched for it. It was as if she lived in our home and I had my nose pressed to the window looking in while wondering what they were talking about and sharing. He protected her from me while discussing my faults, his unhappiness and his needs with her.
The more I fought it, the more power she was given. She said all the right things while I had feelings and uncontrollable emotions. Every time, I lashed out, I knew that she just looked more inviting. As I expressed my frustrations and disappointments, he turned to her to boost his ego and give him sympathy. As long as she existed, he didn’t have to repair his relationship with me. He didn’t have to give me his all. He didn’t have to care about my needs because she accepted him as he was. The limited interactions they shared over the computer or by text was enough for both and I was asking too much.
When I explained why this was disturbing to me, I was brushed off. I was overreacting. She was just a friend. I was too insecure. I was jealous. I was making it all up in my mind. I was making the computer a problem. I was invading his privacy. Everything was my fault which was one more blow to my self-esteem. Doubt crawled in and I started to wonder if I was making too much out of it. But, I knew what I was feeling. There was a deep longing to have my love returned and the sick feeling in my gut reminded me that I was losing him with each passing day. He didn’t even look at me the same. Instead, his eyes lit up when I said I was going to bed or leaving. He spent less and less time invested in things we could do together. He forgot to tell me things or didn’t think they were important because he shared them with the person that mattered. With each passing day, I felt more and more distant, alone and left to soothe myself while she received all the attention and love once promised to me. How can you compete with a fantasy? How do you trust again when that person is always only a click away? It’s possible. But, it is very difficult to recover from an emotional affair.
While conversations with someone of the opposite sex may seem innocent over the computer or by phone, they are still intimate interactions. Through the span of time, people have fallen in love by exchanging letters, notes and through long phone calls. It’s interesting that we trivialize it when it is through the computer. The computer allows for even more intimate interactions like chatting with cameras and sending sexual images. What you may think is innocent has the potential to slide very quickly into something illicit through technology. It’s actually more likely to turn into an affair than meeting someone at a bar. At a bar, you have to make a conscious choice to get dressed, travel and charm someone into sleeping with you. By developing an inappropriate cyber-friendship, you slowly convince yourself that you have every right to fall in love with someone else based on your partner’s action and reactions. Eventually, you convince yourself that you didn’t mean to fall in love and it can’t be helped. Both of you are caught up in a fantasy world that you created to escape reality.
Before long, you both enjoy the secretiveness and the potential of getting caught which heightens the arousal. You find yourself in a full-blown affair that started from a few hidden texts and chatting over the computer. And you lose sight of what is really important in your life, which is your family. The person on the other side of the computer is only meeting a couple of your needs. That person is boosting your self-esteem, sexually engaging you and making you feel wanted. Your partner is meeting your needs for survival, intimacy and security. That person is building a home with you, may be taking care of your children and cares about your emotional needs. The challenge is that they expect as much in return while the other person is simply happy with a text or a message. What seems attractive is a fraction of what you may be losing if you pursue an emotional affair.
People need to be aware of their intentions before creating relationships, because a friendship is a relationship by another name. If you feel like you are not getting your needs met by your partner and you turn to someone else of the opposite sex for comfort, you are already in a dangerous situation. Social media don’t cause affairs, people do. The internet is not a dangerous place unless you go looking for danger or allow it into your world. The difference is that it’s a dark, ominous alley in reality. On the internet, it’s a nice shiny website inviting you to click a button. It’s the profile of an old girlfriend. It’s your email inbox. It’s a text message on your phone. It seems harmless and you can convince yourself that it is, but how you use it can torpedo your life and send it crashing to pieces. It’s important to guard your relationship for perceived dangers as well as real dangers. If you’re partner’s perception is that a relationship is a threat to your relationship, then you should consider it to be a real threat. The best advice is to quit while you are ahead. It’s easier to not communicate with the wrong person than it is to spend countless hours trying to convince the right person to trust you again.
“When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves-they threaten their own self-esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true.” ― Cheryl Hughes