The Emotional Pitfall

How do you know if you are in the midst of an emotional affair (or if your partner is)? How do you define it?

I’ve always had male friends and because I’m perpetually everyone’s little sister, I’ve often been a sounding board for them. This has meant everything from listening to them vent about their on-again-off-again girlfriends to reading drafts of their books. Spending an hour on the phone with a man wouldn’t raise any red flags for me. I’ve had real friendships with these men—but those relationships have never been sexual. In fact, there was never even a thought of it. And yet, there was at least one instance where a girlfriend of one of these men has been bothered by the relationship.

Did these situations constitute an emotional affair because I was giving them the support they needed? I never thought of it in those terms, but also I never inquired as to whether or not the men felt an attachment that would have caused concern for the girlfriends. I knew nothing was going to happen on a physical level, so I didn’t worry about it. To me, they might as well have been girls, and I wouldn’t think twice about supporting a female friend of mine.

Do men secretly get annoyed when their girlfriends share their feelings and thoughts with another girl? What if her best friend was male? Even then, I’m not sure men feel as threatened by it. They might posture a little until they start feeling secure again, but unless they actually see signs of physical threat, I’m not sure they take great exception to the issue.

What do you do if you are already close with a man, and he starts dating someone? I hate when women dump their friends when they start dating someone. Is this really any different? Is that first relationship necessarily disposable in order to avoid potential romantic relationship insecurities down the road for him?

I know what you’re thinking: “Have you ever dated someone with strong ties to someone else?” Yes, indeed. One of the EX’s closest friends since childhood was female. I would never have demanded that he stop his friendship with her because I was suddenly on the scene. I trusted him, and I never felt shortchanged by her presence in his life. Perhaps that is the key to a successful male/female friendship once the male is romantically involved with someone—making certain that he doesn’t use you as a replacement for an emotional connection he should be having with his partner. Of course, the amount of control you have over someone else’s perceptions of you is debatable, so how you would actually do that remains a mystery.

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