An emotional affair is a relationship that is romantic in nature and characterized by high levels of emotional intimacy with someone other than your primary partner. For those who are less self-aware, emotional affairs can be difficult to recognize because we’ve trained ourselves to think that physical cheating is the only form of cheating and as long as we avoid crossing that line, we’re safe. However, experts argue that emotional affairs can be more devastating to marriage than physical cheating. Even more troubling, researchers suggest that the majority of emotional affairs begin at work. It’s rare that anyone sets out with the intention of starting an emotional fling, especially with a colleague, which means it doesn’t just happen to serial cheaters. Good people find themselves in the throes of complicated emotional affairs as well. And many times they don’t realize it until they’re in too deep. Here are some tell-tale signs your work relationship has crossed the line.
You stay in contact
Are you speaking to this person throughout the workday and continuing the conversation well after you arrive home? Are you missing out on spending time with your partner because you’re engrossed in the text conversation that you’re having with your co-worker? It’s odd that you would want to spend your downtime at home speaking to a person you’ve been with the entire day.
You think about them constantly
Do you find that your colleague has begun to invade your thoughts often — even when they’re not around? Are you now modifying your routines like getting to work a little earlier than usual so that you can be in their presence longer? The majority of us aren’t going home to think about our coworkers after we’ve spent the majority of our day with them and we’re definitely not changing things up for them — not even the super cool ones. So if you can’t seem to get this person off of your mind, you may want to start being honest with yourself about the nature of this relationship.
They’ve become the first person you want to call with news
When you get news, both good and bad, is your coworker the first person that you choose to reach out to? In healthy relationships, your spouse is the primary person with whom you desire to celebrate your wins and seek support from when you experience a setback. When the dynamic shifts and you’re now seeking this support from an outside source, it’s indicative of a major problem.
Your partner has virtually no knowledge of the coworker
For the most part, when one spouse is one half of a blossoming platonic relationship, the other spouse is fully aware of the relationship. When everything is on the up and up, there is nothing to hide and therefore, the relationship blossoms out in the open. However, if your spouse has no idea that this person even exists, you have to ask yourself why you’ve chosen to keep them in the dark. This person has clearly become an important figure in your life. Why not tell your spouse about them?
You lie to your partner to cover up the work relationship
Have you become particularly secretive with your partner as a result of this blossoming friendship? Are you especially protective of your cell phone because you know that you’ve been having conversations that would make your spouse uncomfortable? Are you intentionally leaving out details about your workday such as the fact that you’ve have lunch with the same person for a month straight? Telling half-truths is the same as lying. And if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s likely that your work friendship has crossed several boundaries and you are now engaged in an emotional affair.
You vent about your partner or you downplay the relationship
A sure way to tell that a workplace friendship has crossed the line is to examine the way that you discuss your current relationship with your coworker. If you have ever complained about or spoken poorly about your partner to this person, it’s a good indicator that you’re in dangerous territory. Additionally, if you find that you feel the need to downplay the seriousness of your primary relationship or that you’re hiding the relationship from your coworker altogether, it’s evident that you have ulterior motives.