Christy has always considered herself to be a loyal and devoted wife to her husband Pete. Once they started dating, she hardly gave good looking guys a second glance– not interested. She’s always assumed that she and Pete would be together for the rest of their lives.
Until last month.
While Christy was at an out-of-town training for work, she met Luke. He was about as different from Pete as anyone can be. In fact, at first Luke got on Christy’s nerves and she dreaded the time she had to spend with him in meetings and small group break out sessions.
Something shifted over the course of the week-long training, however. Christy started looking forward to spending time with Luke. They began having lunch together and joking around during breaks.
Now that Christy is back at home, she and Luke have continued to chat online and by text. She is ashamed to admit how much she looks forward to getting a text from Luke and keeps hoping there will be a follow up training they might meet at again.
Christy argues with herself about her actions and growing feelings for Luke. She doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong, but it FEELS kind of like cheating or almost-cheating.
Like Christy, you may consider yourself to be fully committed to your love relationship or marriage…until you those thoughts arise about your co-worker, friend, neighbor or acquaintance.
Cheating might be something you find absolutely reprehensible, except for the impulse you have to spend more time with this other person and maybe even be with him or her sexually.
Infidelity can happen without you intending it.
One moment you are just having innocent fun together and the next moment you are kissing or planning to meet at a hotel room. It can happen like this and, just as quickly, your relationship or marriage will be in serious jeopardy.
We urge you to stay awake. Be aware of what you’re doing as you’re doing it at all times. This doesn’t mean that you don’t trust yourself or that you have an expectation that you’re going to mess up and cheat on your partner.
What it does mean is that you are clear with yourself about when you’re flirting or when you’re sexually attracted to someone other than your partner– and you feel an impulse to act on that attraction.
This also means that you stay awake to what’s going on between you and your partner. If resentment has built up or other walls have been erected that are keeping you two disconnected, be aware of it. If you are dissatisfied with your relationship, admit it to yourself.
Be honest with yourself.
When you realize that you’re tempted to cheat– or possibly that you’re already having an emotional affair– don’t rationalize to make it okay. As difficult and irritating as your partner can be and as unhappy as your relationship may be, this does not negate your own actions.
Be responsible for what you’re doing with this other person you’re attracted to. Take ownership for your role in the unwanted or dissatisfying dynamics between you and your partner.
Be very honest with yourself about what it is you want and also about what is wise for you.
If you aren’t willing to face up to what’s going on in your relationship and to try to make changes that will help you create what you want with your partner, then seriously think about whether you will stay in or leave the relationship.
When she realizes what she’s actually doing with Luke, Christy has a long “talk” with herself. She asks herself why she’s so drawn to Luke and why she’s risking her relationship with Pete. Christy starts to understand her motivations and it becomes apparent that she’s not as happy with Pete as she thought she was.
This isn’t Pete’s fault, but a combination of busy schedules, bad communication habits and a lack of appreciation (on both sides). It’s easy to blame Pete for not making her feel special, but Christy admits that she plays a big role too. She doesn’t want to lose her marriage and she decides to make some major changes in how she spends her time and what/whom she focuses on.
Decide (and do) your next best step.
There’s no question that cheating is damaging and often deadly for a relationship.
It’s up to you to decide what you will do. Will you act on your attraction to the other person? Will you get to root of what’s turning you away from your partner and, like Christy, start to make some changes?
Will you take this almost-affair as a wake-up call and make a conscious decision about what you want for yourself?
We encourage you to get clear and, even if you don’t know all of the answers to the questions you have, decide what your next best step is. Then, do it. Keep yourself pointed toward what you do want for your relationship and life by making decisions that line you up with that.