Some infidelity is easy to spot. The inhibitions fall away with the clothes and the couple is doing things they wouldn’t want to be caught doing.
But other behaviors are much more nuanced and difficult to identify as potentially (and usually unintentionally) sliding into an emotional affair.
Here are 5 warning signs that “we’re just friends” is heading into dangerous waters:
You’re keeping things from your spouse. Not big things, not yet. It’s the omission of small facts that aren’t really a big deal, but for some reason you’d rather your spouse not find out. Over time, those lies of omission become lies of manipulation. Stop them early.
You tell this friend things you don’t tell your spouse or they get the big news first. This doesn’t mean you have to tell your spouse everything, but they certainly deserve to know anything of significance in your life. This can be especially tricky to navigate when you have an intense job that encourages strong coworker bonds (just think of the relationships on those doctor shows!) or you have an outside passion that you share with others. Your spouse may never really “get it” in the way those that also experience it do, but you owe it to them to not exclude them from your life.
Your spouse is feeling insecure. If you’re watering the wrong grass and focusing more energy outside than marriage than in, your partner will pick up on it, even if they’re not consciously aware. And this usually results in a feeling of insecurity. That’s a sign you should pay attention to.
There’s an excitement you feel with this person that you don’t feel with your other friends. That increased energy is a sign that you don’t see this person as simply “just a friend.” It’s a signal of increased interest that can breed an emotional intimacy that could threaten your marriage. It feels good now. But are the possible consequences worth it?
You experience disproportionate guilt. You shouldn’t feel guilty for meeting a friend for coffee. So if do, it’s a sign that this meeting possibly means more to you than just a chance to catch up. Guilt is your internal warning system. It’s usually best to listen.
Does any of this sound familiar? Here’s how you can stop the slide and regain your control.