April 9, 2013
If you are in a committed relationship and have cheated on your partner, this post by Holly Cox is a must read. If you are the victim of a partner who has cheated on you? Reading Holly's post is probably a good idea for you, too.
What if you haven't had sex with this person but you've kissed or held hands or engaged in other types of intimate physical affection? Is this cheating? If your partner isn't aware or is aware and feels hurt or angry? Then your behavior very likely falls under the realm of cheating.
What if you're not sure if your non-physical relationship with a "friend" or coworker could be considered cheating? What if you suspect your partner spends too much time with their colleague, teammate or friend or if they seem too close for your comfort? Please do yourself and your partner a favor by reading Dr. Laura Berman's post where she discusses emotional infidelity.
One important sign to look for, within yourself , is whether you actively decide to not tell your partner about repeat encounters with this "friend." Whether it seems to be a harmless lunch, meeting to exercise together, or trips to the movie theatre, if your partner remains in the dark you need to take a long look at your behavior and your motives.
A second sign is having a lot of thoughts about the "friend" when you're away from them. Especially when you feel your heart race or skip a beat in the middle of these thoughts. Of course, if you are feeling clear feelings of sexual attraction and you elect to continue meeting up with this "friend," be it known or not known by your partner, many would label these actions infidelity.
Are your contacts with this friend limited to emails, texts or other forms of electronic contact? If the above signs are present, or if you password protect your accounts so your partner won't see? Probably emotional infidelity. The defining factor is more about whether your partner would be hurt if s/he knew then how you technically feel about the "friend."
Most affairs are explained to me in this way, "I didn't go looking for an affair..." Or, "I didn't mean to have an affair, it just happened." In other words, spending a lot of time with someone other than your partner when any of the above criteria apply? Take the safe approach and end or greatly limit contact. Tell your partner about the meetings and the emails. Give your partner a chance to weigh in. If you don't want to hear your partner say they feel hurt or betrayed and so you avoid talking about time spent with this "friend," emotional infidelity is likely in play.
People vary regarding what they think is cheating when it comes to their own partners. So the true answer lies not with what any expert thinks or what research finds but what your partner thinks and feels. Social Psychologist, Dr. Justin Lehmiller talks more about who defines cheating and how, here, on his blog, The Psychology of Human Sexuality.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Wise words when it comes to protecting your relationship.
Welcome. I'm Dr. Sandy Andrews, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in Austin, Texas. I specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). My intent here is to share some of what I know about clinical psychology, CBT in particular, and perspectives gained from across the couch. If you think you might want to set up an appointment, please put the word "appt" in the subject of your email. Ask me about therapy sessions while trail walking. We can "walk it out" rather than be confined to sitting indoors. Insurance generally does not cover therapy outside the office, however.