Regardless of what popular media tells us, infidelity doesn’t just happen. We do not wake up one day, see an old flame, and fall into bed. We open the door, inch by inch, until we cross a line we cannot take back.
The decision to be unfaithful is often thought to be rooted in not getting needs met. Maybe your partner is busy, and you feel overlooked. Maybe the intimacy has died, and you feel rejected. Maybe you and your partner have grown apart and you just want to be pursued again. Though these feelings may carry a degree of validity, the choice to get them met by someone else is sin.
Stages and Signs of Infidelity
While some would never be unfaithful sexually, it is possible to commit infidelity without taking off your clothes.
Texting/messaging someone who is not your spouse may be a sign of infidelity.
Social media can be useful. It can also be destructive. When things are less than ideal at home and we feel overlooked, abandoned, or lonely, it is easy to reach out to an old friend or ex out of nostalgia or the need to connect.
Often these conversations start simply enough with “How are you? What’s going on?” But if both of you have unmet needs at home, it can quickly turn into a form of emotional infidelity.
Over time, you get the butterfly feelings for someone in your past. You rearrange your schedule to talk to them. You text them all the time and become protective of your phone. You choose to talk to them instead of spending time with your spouse.
Sharing personal details with a co-worker instead of your spouse.
Just like with social media, it is easy to start relying on someone in your work life more than your partner. Maybe a new co-worker gives you a listening ear. Maybe you confide in a business contact at a conference who seems to affirm what a whiny, neglectful person your partner is. Consider these possibilities:
- The other person is flirty, and you don’t nip it in the bud.
- They offer you compliments that slowly cross a line.
- You spend more one-on-one time with them.
- There is more touch.
- You start to pursue this person.
- You care more about how they see you than your spouse.
- You do nice things for them that you aren’t doing for your partner.
- Your emotional energy is spent on them and not your spouse.
Not going home so you don’t have to deal with your spouse can lead to infidelity.
Not all infidelity happens with someone we know. Sex is primal. Sometimes we think all we need is a release and things will be better. When things are less than ideal at home, we can choose to avoid going home to avoid silence or feeling rejected.
For example, you go to a bar, just for a drink. You strike up a conversation with someone. They’re funny and easy to talk to. You pretend to be single. Rationalize why it’s okay. They flirt; you reciprocate. The level of touch grows and gets more intimate.
Your heart and infidelity
In all these situations, pay attention to your heart and mind. Ask what you are hoping to get out of this. Would you be okay with your spouse doing these things with someone else? If not, stop. Infidelity does not just happen. We do not just wind up in bed with someone who is not our spouse. It is a dozen tiny choices that start with where we put our time and attention.
Marriage is hard. Feeling alone or overlooked is a powerful drive to seek out validation and attention. But there was a promise made. Things can be worked out. In your loneliness do not start down a path that leads to a decision you can’t take back and can cost you everything.
At Simi Valley Christian Counseling, we are here for you. We’d love to talk to you about what is going on. Couples therapy in Simi Valley is available in person and online. Even if your spouse won’t come, we would love to help you stay emotionally faithful. Call our office today.
“Sitting on the Dock”, Courtesy of Krists Luhaers, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Estranged”, Courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License