Someone once told me that love is doing something for someone else at the cost of a personal sacrifice. Love is so much more than an emotion – it is knowing and accepting someone’s intricacies. When acceptance and unconditional love seem to fade, people often fall into emotional affairs. Emotional affairs are affairs that have manifested by sharing a deep emotional commitment with someone other than your significant other, even if no physical boundaries have been crossed.
Emotional affairs often begin with the loss of that initial spark inyour relationship. How do you regain that spark? The answer is found within the details. Yes, it is important to go out on dates and connect on a physical level. While these are key aspects to a relationship, they leave gigantic holes that need to be filled. Saying “I love you” does not mean anything unless your actions support that claim. Details are found in the way that you listen to your significant other. They can be seen in the ways you remember her birthday and plan something amazing for her.
So, how can you incorporate special details in your relationship to avoid emotional affairs? To answer this, we must first examine why the emotional affair is taking place. When relationships begin, couples go through a stage of emotional connection called symbiosis, which is the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. Their brains are so star struck by the very idea of the other person because that person has taken the time to invest in them and make them feel loved. The couple take advantage of this stage to really get to know each other. After time, this symbiotic stage begins to wear off and the couple become used to the excitement. Emotional affairs begin when the individual does not feel loved or known their partner any more.
Once someone in the relationship begins an emotional affair, it is a slippery slope towards a break up or divorce. Throughout the stage of symbiosis, each individual is sharing personal pieces of their heart with their partner -- giving a piece of their heart away. When one partner has an emotional affair, it creates a gap in the relationship and quickly leads to broken hearts.
While it requires work, there are some ways to fix the emotional gap that may be leading to an emotional affair:
One of the best ways to love your significant other is by listening. When he is speaking, you should not be thinking about what you are going to say next. When you listen, remember to hear what your partner is saying. It might help to respond to what he says by starting with, “So what you’re saying is…” and then repeat what he has said to you. This shows you were truly listening.
The way we speak to our significant other can dictate how respected they feel. A relationship is not a competition. If you are married and have children, your spouse does not want to be treated as if they are another child. If your significant other shares personal thoughts with you, it is because they trust you and want to connect with you on a personal level. Show your partner that you respect her by affirming what she is feeling. This detail is so important because the loss of respect can lead to very quick emotional affairs.
This can often be a frightening thing to do because it means putting your heart on the line. If someone does not feel as though they are trusted, their defenses can spike and permeatemany other aspects of the relationship – such as communication and respect. A lack of trust is a quick way to lose the interest of your significant other. A strong amount of trust leads to a strong connection within couples, and a weak sense of trust can lead to an emotional affair.
Live to love
Everyone not only needs to be loved, but deserves it as well. Love is so much more than a feeling, it is an action. It is the constant pursuit of joy in one’s relationship. Loving your significant other can be seen in the small aspects of life such as surprising her with breakfast in bed. By living to love your partner, you are showing her that you think she is more important than other parts of your life, and that is what creates a strong emotional connection.
If you have noticed that you are struggling in your relationship, or if you feel as though you are beginning to fall into an emotional affair, do not worry. You are not alone. Love can be messy, but it is the most amazing thing you can have in your life. Relationships can be difficult, but where there is struggle there is always hope.
If you have found yourself falling into this category and need more help, we would love to have you come to Estes Therapy to work through the difficulties that you are facing. We focus on a short-term form of therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy that has long-term effects. For more information, visit our website at www.estestherapy.com