Emotional Adultery

Many moons ago I had a male friend that I served with in ministry. My marriage was difficult and so was his. We shared and prayed for each other and eventually talked to each other on the phone. Every day.

Both our spouses knew about our friendship and I think, because having our emotional needs met by someone else let them off the hook – they approved.

I was young and stupid. I didn’t know the dangers of this. I saw him as kind of a “big brother.” I never had any physical desire for him. However, that did not remain the case for him.  Eventually things crossed a line and I was uncomfortable and after setting several boundaries that were not well-respected, I cut off any contact with him.

I know it hurt him. It hurt me to lose someone who was empathetic to my hurts and issues and valued me as a person in a way my spouse did not. What I did not realize till many years later was that we had an emotional affair. Adultery.

Sure, I never slept with him, or even kissed him. I had no desire to. I was a bit of a prude in that way I guess. Maybe my needs weren’t being met in my marriage but I knew I had no right, before God, to meet my physical needs with another man.

But doesn’t that apply to my emotional needs as well? I mean, come on, this man knew more about me: my feelings, hurts, likes, dislikes, fears, dreams, than my husband did. My husband didn’t care to know and traveled a lot.

If you had asked me back then if a woman can have a good male friend I would have said adamantly, “YES!” but now I would say “NO!” For a married woman at least, it is dangerous ground to trod. Even if you are bent on staying pure physically, a line can easily be crossed.

In the years since then I’ve placed hedges around my relationships. I can share with female friends the depths of my pain and suffering but I have never revisited a relationship where I have DAILY sharing of those kinds of things. No one else cares like he did for what is going on in my heart and mind on that regular of a basis. Pretty heady stuff to have someone that devoted to you. Even more so when your spouse could care less.

I’m sure my husband would have cared a whole lot if I had slept with the man. The fact is many physical affairs start out with the emotional connection. They are not just about sex and many women (and men) don’t pursue the relationship for that end. They are looking for companionship. A friend. Someone who makes them feel special and understood. Even more so when they are not getting that kind of love from the man who promised before God to do so, most likely in a church, with witnesses.

So I am careful with men because I am needy for a man’s affection. I don’t entertain them in my house with my husband gone. God is my husband and while I may sometimes feel lonely, I am learning to be more content with who I am and where I am in life, without a man stroking my ego. Not that I wouldn’t mind that, but if it’s not my husband, then it’s not right, emotionally or physically.

Have you ever been tempted to develop a friendship with a man other than your husband? What have you done to protect yourself from an emotional affair?

Lilly Grace

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