We’re Just Good Friends; Am I in an Emotional Affair?

Am I really cheating if I’m not even having sex?

The Good Men Project

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Photo credit: iStockPhoto

By Jenny Kanevsky

Relationships have many components, and yes, sex is one of them, but there are others. Friendship, childrearing, joint interests such as traveling, music, cooking . . . for every couple, they are different and each piece of the puzzle has its importance, but together, they make up a whole.

One major piece is emotional intimacy. And for most, not just women as is often assumed, emotional intimacy is critical to making the puzzle whole, and especially to fostering a healthy and mutually fulfilling sexual relationship.

For most of us, the emotional connection comes first. We become friends before we are sexually intimate. We share common interests. If we are in a committed relationship, especially a marriage or long-term partnership, we are likely emotionally intimate (or we want to be).

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What does it mean to cheat emotionally? According to Psychology Today, this is when one partner is emotionally intimate, and in close friendship with someone outside the relationship. They may also be intimating future sexual intimacy. In many cases, these are secret or semi-secret friendships where there is obvious mutual physical attraction. Others simply encourage the friendship to boost their ego or to distract themselves from issues with a current partner.

An emotional affair is when one partner is secretly channeling emotional energy, time, and attention into someone other than their partner. And, although not necessary to make it cheating, says Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth, the affair is particularly damaging when the long-term partner actually begins to notice this and feel neglected.

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Think about this: You’re in contact with someone new or from your past. You like each other and feel good together, you like talking to him or her and exchanging intimate, funny e-mails or texts. You joke, you flirt, and you find yourself dressing nicer when you know you’ll see each other. You meet for coffee or lunch. The problem? You’re not married and your spouse or significant other doesn’t know. Whether you are Facebook friends or…

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The Good Men Project

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