What Becomes Emotional Affairs

When Harry met Sally, he told her men and women can't be friends. Sex always gets in the way, so the friendship is doomed.

"What if they don't want to have sex with you?" Sally demanded, when he admitted men pretty much want to sleep with every woman they meet.

"Doesn't matter," he shrugged. "The sex thing is already out there." We've all seen the movie. We know that, in the end, Harry and Sally couldn't just be friends. But his philosophy isn't always true, we find ourselves thinking.

After all, I'm friends with a member of the opposite sex. And there's absolutely nothing going on between us.

That long, leisurely lunch last week was perfectly innocent -- though, of course, I haven't quite got around to telling my spouse. But I've nothing to hide.

Naturally, we flirt a bit, tease each other and share the odd friendly hug and pat on the back. But it doesn't mean anything. It just brightens the day.

After all -- and here's the crucial, get-off-the-hook bit -- we haven't even kissed, much less slept together. So what harm can it possibly do? Actually, quite a lot. According to countless Web sites on marital problems, having an emotional affair is the new infidelity.

It seems sharing secrets, dreams and fears with another person can be as dangerous to your marriage as the old-fashioned exchange of bodily fluids.

Women shouldn't be surprised by the news. The sexes have markedly differing attitudes towards relationships.Despite the rise of casual sex and ladies who are as generous with their bedroom favors as the boys, women tend to equate sex with love.A woman who bares her soul to a man feels intensely attached to him, even if she doesn't actually sleep with him: You have only to look at the tendency for women to fall in love with their psychiatrists and priests to see this in action.Men are able to distinguish between the two more easily. Women give sex to get love; men give love to get sex.A man will see absolutely nothing wrong in developing a relationship with a woman, as long as it doesn't become physical.By and large, it takes the cement of sex to bind a man to a woman.Without it, the relationship, however intense it seems, remains casual.That doesn't mean he isn't planning to get sex out of it. He's just learned, in this day and age of the caring, sharing, listening New Man, to play a longer game. As Harry observed in the movie: "No man can be friends with a woman he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her." The number of men and women indulging in emotional affairs is on the increase, and with it, the heartache that all too often follows.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 15 percent of women and a quarter of men have extramarital sex. Add in the nonphysical relationships -- emotional affairs -- and those figures rise by more than 20 percent.And it's easy to understand why. As women have flooded the workplace, the opportunity for friendships, platonic and otherwise, has increased.Many of us spend more hours with our colleaguesthan our spouses, and our scarce time at home is often spent discussingchildren and domestic issues.We end up sharing the more interesting and intimate experiences with friends at work -- our fears, our hopes, our feelings.Having minutely picked over the lost promotion, the secret ideafor writing a book, the terror of hitting 40 with an attractive,flirtatious colleague, there's no need to repeat yourself telling itall over again to your husband or wife.Slowly, insidiously, you start shutting your partner out.Contrary to popular myth, it's not the big events that build andstrengthen a marriage -- birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day andChristmas -- but the day-to-day intimacies: the shared laughter andspecial confidences.Remove them from your relationship with your spouse, and what's left?Conversations about gas bills and whose turn it is to walk the dog.
Add this to the inevitable waning of sexual frisson that takesplace in any long-term relationship and it is but a short, dangerousstep to seeing your friend as more exciting and desirable than thedull, boring person to whom you are married.Don't forget, this is how you ended up married in the first place: by what is rather quaintly known as courting.Remember the thrill of waiting for the phone to ring? Theexcitement of dressing up for a date? The getting-to-know-you ritual ofexchanging personal details?Why would you want to do this again with someone new? The job is already taken.When you get married, you are making a choice and a statement:This is the person with whom I wish to share not just my life, bankaccount and DNA, but the very essence of who I am. It's not a role thatrequires an understudy.However much you kid yourself, when you indulge in an emotionalaffair, you are auditioning someone for more than a walk-on part.If your spouse doesn't understand you, it's probably because you haven't been explaining yourself to them.But instead of admitting the truth, you tell yourself you've grown apart.You want different things from life. You don't make each other happy. It's like living with a stranger.Your special friend, on the other hand, seems to know you inside out.
Sometimes you don't even need to speak to know what's in each other's minds.Little wonder, when you've spent months studying each other as if they are your specialist subject on Mastermind.In and of itself, a close friendship with a member of theopposite sex shouldn't be a threat. But if it tourniquets the lifebloodof your marriage, your relationship will wither and die.Marriage needs constant and attentive nurturing. By all means,enjoy a drink with friends after work, chat about the latest Hollywoodblockbuster.But if you value the person you've promised to cherish untildeath parts you, make sure it is into their ear -- and their ear only-- that you whisper those sweet nothings.Source: Daily Mail (UK). Powered by Yellowbrix.
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Source: Relationships & Love

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