7 Warning Signs That Your Friendship May Have Already Turned into an Emotional Affair

So you’ve become friendly with a work colleague and have begun meeting outside of work. Perhaps even going out to lunch a few times. Maybe you even text one another outside of work hours. Or, you have become reacquainted with an old high school friend and have enjoyed catching up on old times. So what makes one friendship harmless and innocent and the next relationship problematic and unhealthy? How do you know if you’re at risk of having an emotional affair? Here are seven warning signs that could mean you have crossed the line.

Warning Sign #1: You get excited when you see this person and look forward to contacting them again.

This feeling actually mirrors the “high” many feel when beginning a new romantic relationship. You feel energized and you’re experiencing a neurochemical high as your brain is lighting up from dopamine and those “feel-good” chemicals are releasing.

Warning Sign #2: You reveal personal information to this person before telling your own partner.

Or, you avoid telling your partner altogether. This is dangerous for your relationship, as you are no longer communicating openly with your partner.
Hint: When you are sharing emotional content with this “friend,” you are now, by definition, emotionally involved!

Warning Sign #3: You start spending time with this person during non-work hours.

Also, the amount of time that you spend with this person is increasing. This could have started off with something innocent, such as going out with coworkers for drinks. However, you are now beginning to spend more time alone together.

Warning Sign #4: You start to complain about your romantic partner to your new “friend.”

This is another telltale sign that you might be beginning to have an emotional affair with this new person.

Warning Sign #5: You hide your new friendship from your partner.

When asked where you are going or whom you are with, you give a vague response or simply lie. You also hide that you are texting, messaging, or emailing your friend because you don’t want to admit (to your partner and sometimes even to yourself) that you are beginning to develop an emotional affair with this person.

Warning Sign #6: You start to daydream and fantasize sexually about your friend.

In fact, your partner may have already noticed that you seem distracted and asks what you’re thinking about. Embarrassed, you make up something instead of telling the truth.

Warning Sign #7: You begin to pay for expenses when with this person, or you buy them gifts.

Again, this may have begun innocently enough, such as picking up the check for a meal. Then it progresses to something simple, such as flowers and turns into more expensive gifts. You then conceal these expenses from your romantic partner.

What Can I Do?

Begin by being completely honest with yourself. Are you spending time with this person because you simply enjoy their friendship, or because you have developed deeper feelings for them? Only you can answer this, but if it’s the latter and your friend is reciprocating those feelings, it would be a good idea to seek individual counseling. Although difficult, be honest with your partner too, and it will likely be necessary to participate in couples counseling to help the two of you work through this situation.

Overall, it’s important to be honest with yourself that your romantic relationship is being strained and harmed by your behavior. Unfortunately, if you are currently in the midst of an emotional affair, you may not be motivated to take any healthy steps for yourself and your relationship. This new person is making you feel darn good and you’re experiencing that neurochemical “high’ discussed above. Thus, you are less likely to want to stop and evaluate your behavior. However, if and when you are genuinely interested in making a change, being honest with yourself and your partner is the healthiest place to start.

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