We trust our partners to be there for us during our highs and lows. That’s why it is so heartbreaking when cheating occurs. But betrayal can happen even when there isn’t a physical affair. Here are three ways that you could be undermining your relationship and forsaking your partner’s trust outside of infidelity.
Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of trust. You have to be willing to be open and honest with your partner. Deceit and secrecy cannot exist if you want your relationship to thrive. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., the director of research and education at The Glendon Association states: “Two adults can agree to whatever terms of a relationship they like, but the hidden violation of the agreement is what makes an act a betrayal and an affair unethical” (Firestone, 2016). It’s not so much about what you’re doing as much as it is about whether you are including your partner in your choices – especially those that impact them. And while most would agree that lying is harmful to a relationship, a lot of people don’t realize that lying about how you’re feeling in a relationship is also a form of dishonesty that demonstrates either a lack of commitment or a lack of trust in your partner.
An emotional affair involves two people not in a “relationship” sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and dreams, unbeknownst to their significant others. You withhold your heart from your committed partner and create a private space that he is not a part of. It’s normal and healthy to have friendships outside of your romantic relationships, but an emotional affair involves secrecy and exclusivity. This kind of “cheating” is no less damaging for its lack of a sexual element. In the words of Wendy Lustbader, M.S.W., in an article published by Psychology Today, “The problem for the partner is that a dynamic and vivacious conversation is taking place on a regular basis with someone else; whole areas of growth, insight, and soulful exploration have come to be located outside the [relationship]” (Lustbader, 2014). Emotional intimacy is as critical to a relationship as its physical counterpart and as such, sharing it with someone on the outside is equally hurtful.
Withholding emotional support
Distance is deadly when it comes to building and growing a lasting bond. When you’re with someone for an extended period of time, they’re bound to get on your nerves at some point. But even if our partner is bugging us, it’s important to be with them when they need support. Texting in the middle of an important conversation, holding back on how you feel and exhibiting general apathy towards your partner are all examples of behaviors that can distance you from your partner. Sure, they’re perfectly capable of handling things on their own if necessary, but that’s not the point of a relationship. Be there for each other, support each other and strive to draw closer to each other – especially on the bad days.
Firestone, L. (2016). Deception and the Destruction of Your Relationship. Retrieved March 2018, from Psych Alive: http://www.psychalive.org/
Lustbader, W. (2014, June 30). Emotional Affairs: Why They Hurt So Much. Retrieved March 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.