What causes emotional infidelity?
We tend to spend more of our waking hours with colleagues than with a spouse. With extended working hours, the need to collaborate closely on projects, travel together, there are more opportunities than ever before to relate closely.
Ease of Access
Social networking makes it easier than ever to connect up with people, and often leads to greater levels of intimacy than one would normally engage in because of the ‘disinhibition effect' that operates when one doesn't see the other person.
We often make unfair comparisons. You may feel your colleague is more articulate, competent, charming and well-read, but did you also notice that he/she is not as supportive, sensitive, reliable or honest as your spouse?
We often see our colleagues at their best - well groomed, energetic, presenting their best behavior and not tired at the end of a long day and bogged down with home responsibilities. The same colleague may not be quite so nice at home!
There is an unfair expectation that a partner should always be exciting. The fact is, that what is new and unfamiliar will always be more exciting than what is known. A friend may seem more exciting than your spouse whom you know well, but the spouse provides love that is less exciting but far more stable! (Read the article Stages in a Relationship) One may invest more in the relationship that seems to be more exciting at the cost of the apparently ‘boring' one.
How Can One Safeguard Against Emotional Infidelity?
Wouldn't it be nice if one could install anti-infidelity protection? How do we maintain healthy working relationships with colleagues of both sexes without jeopardizing our marriage or committed relationship?
1. Be aware of the content of your conversations with colleagues of the opposite sex. While you need not confine yourself only to business, do avoid too much of discussion about your personal life.
2. Avoid going out regularly for meals, drinks etc alone with a colleague of the opposite sex after work hours or even for very frequent coffee breaks alone with the same colleague. Try to include others in your group.
3. When you do have to work together closely for long periods of time, try to do this in your work setting, rather than in a more relaxed environment. If you are in a hotel together, have your discussions in a coffee shop or lobby and not in a hotel room.
4. If you notice your conversation becoming very personal, steer it in a more general direction.
5. Avoid sharing your deepest feelings with a colleague of the opposite sex. Do not discuss your marriage with him / her. If you need to share, you could find someone trustworthy of the same sex, or talk to a professional counsellor.
6. Physical contact between the sexes is very much more acceptable these days, but do be aware if you are making more physical contact than normal with the opposite sex. Are all those hugs really required? There can be no clear cut rule about this, but if you are honest with yourself, you will probably be able to identify the difference.
7. Make a conscious effort to deepen your relationship with your spouse. Spend more time with him / her, make sure that you take time to talk and share, and don't let all the time you spend at home be bogged down with routines or even children.
Ultimately marriage is all about commitment. We can choose to let our behaviour be determined by circumstances and emotions, or we can choose to keep to the promises that we made when we got married, and focus our emotional and physical energy on maintaining our relationship. The rewards of investing in your marriage are tremendous, and no other relationship can even begin to compare with it!