Imagine for a moment that someone you met on Facebook sent you a message saying they thought you were incredibly sexy and attractive.
If you were in a committed, monogamous relationship and responded with your own flirtatious, suggestive comment, would that be chatting or cheating?
Ricki Lake recently invited me to appear on her show as an expert marriage and family therapist to advise a couple who were struggling through a similar situation.
The couple had been married for eleven years with three children. Gary, the husband, was spending a lot of time on Facebook, and his wife Janet noticed a flirtatious message he had sent to a single friend on the social media site.
Janet wanted to know, was Gary merely innocently chatting with his single friend or was the fact that he was flirting with her mean that he’d crossed the line into cheating?
In these sorts of situations, what I suggest is to apply the rule of the 3 S’s of emotional sex chemistry:
Secrecy: Is your partner keeping their actions and conversations with their “friend” secret from you?
Shared Intimacy: Are they talking about their innermost thoughts and feelings with this other person?
Sexual Energy: Is there sexual tension, flirting and arousal?
Unfortunately, Gary’s situation was applicable to all 3 S’s and that meant that he had crossed the line into cheating.
If you or your partner spend a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re cheating. However, if you’re giving any one person a lot of attention, whether it’s through message boards, text messaging, or on Facebook and Twitter, it’s attention you’re taking away from the closeness you should be nurturing at home.
Every relationship needs a healthy investment of the 3 A’s: Affection, Appreciation and Attention. Simply living in the same house and sharing household responsibilities doesn’t automatically create a healthy relationship. When life gets dull, predictable or stressful, the desire to escape and seek excitement or distraction elsewhere can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are easy things you can do to put the spark back into your relationship that will demonstrate to your partner that you still love them, appreciate them and want to stay close:
1. Show your love in unexpected ways. Write a love note or draw a cute picture on a sticky note and place it on their car’s dashboard. Text them to tell them you miss them. Bring home a special treat you know they’ll love.
2. Shake things up. Do something new together. Take a salsa dancing class, rent a canoe, attend a concert, go for a full moon hike…be create with your time together. It’s amazing how busting out of the routine can spice up your love life.
3. Touch and embrace without an agenda. So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex, because they think that affection is just a prelude to sex. But hugging and cuddling is not only good for your relationship, it reduces stress and increases your wellbeing. Find ways to be affectionate throughout the day, every day.
In my book, “Chatting or Cheating” I explain the 6 top relationship problems that lead to infidelity and may be making you or your partner vulnerable to crossing the line from chatting to cheating online. I also go into depth about cyberchatting and virtual affairs on page 29, where you’ll learn the bio-chemical reasons why flirting with strangers online is so addictive and can very quickly lead to a real-life physical affair.
You get out of your relationship what you put into it. Make love a priority in your life and you’ll reap the sweet rewards in more ways than one.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers Psy.D., America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
These days, conveniences like email, texting and social media have made it easier than ever to connect with others. But for people who are married or are in committed relationships, it also means innocent communication can slip into flirting or emotional cheating– a betrayal even if there’s no physical contact involved. So where is the line between harmless chatting and harmful cheating? We asked Sheri Meyers Psy.D, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of “Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.”
GalTime: What is “Emotional Sex?”
Sheri Meyers Psy.D: Emotional sex is an affair of the heart that feels the same as romantic love and can manifest itself in numerous ways—physically, romantically, emotionally, lustfully, verbally, or virtually. Once emotional sex kicks in, fantasy takes over. The brain chemicals activated in emotional sex create the illusion that a “perfect love” exists and “destiny” is knocking. Emotional sex is an insidious form of infidelity that frequently occurs between two people who at first call themselves ‘just friends.’
GT: Who is more likely to get involved in this type of relationship?
SM: Women tend to have emotional affairs. Men tend to have physical and cyber affairs. Having an affair is usually a symptom of an underlying problem in the relationship. Often we feel like something is missing and we may consciously or unconsciously seek that something in someone else.
GT: How do these situations start? When does it cross the line between chatting and cheating?
SM: Emotional sex usually starts innocently. You become Friends with the sexy co-worker and decide to carpool to work together, or you reunite with an ex on Facebook and start to share stories and photos from the past. You know you’re crossing the line when…
Signs Chatting is Becoming Cheating
• You start sharing more about yourself with your friend than your partner.
• You prefer talking to your ‘friend’ over your primary partner.
• You check for messages CONSTANTLY.
• You think about him or her more than your partner or your kids.
• Thoughts of your friend bring relief and an instant high.
GT: What if YOU are the person having the affair? How do you break the news?
SM: Before confessing to your partner, you must confess to yourself and take full responsibility. Forgive your partner for anything they did or didn’t do that may have influenced your choice to cheat. Do not blame your partner for the affair– now or ever!
Start and end your confession with love. It might go something like this: “ I love you with all of my heart. I really screwed up. I want to get this out in the open and tell you the truth so that we can move on and heal our relationship together.” Then tell what happened. And close with a lot of love.
GT: Is ending the affair always the right goal– or could it be that the person that you’re cheating with is actually a better relationship for you?
SM: While you may feel tempted to do something wild, crazy and risky, like leave your relationship for your emotional lover, this is a BIG mistake. Biochemical research has shown that the effect of ‘love chemicals’ is twofold: they are released in RESPONSE to your friend, and they BOND you to your friend. Letting go of such intoxicating nourishment seems unimaginable, but if you want your primary relationship to work, then you have to END the affair. The lover must go.
GT: If you think you are being cheated on… What are your tips for spotting a cheater?
SM: Here are some trumpet-blaring red flags…
Tips for Spotting a Cheater
- • Your partner starts withdrawing from normal activities, social plans and time with you.
• Your partner receives (or sends) regular texts at all hours from a ‘friend’ you don’t know or didn’t know your partner had.
• Your partner is taking mysterious calls in the other room and when you ask who called, they say “No one” “Wrong number” “It’s business,” or “Why do you ask?”
• Your partner is getting very secretive or defensive about how they are spending their time and money.
• Your partner’s desire to be ‘attractive’ is increasing, especially when leaving the house. This includes dressing differently when leaving the house, changing their style, losing weight, looking sexier.
• Your partner is running hot and cold when it comes to sex with you.
GT: Is there a “best way” to confront someone if you are having suspicions about them?
SM: It is essential that you have REAL, tangible proof, not assumptions. Preparation is being able to emotionally handle the truth. Have a plan in place in terms of the time and place you are going to have the discussion without interruption. When confronted, cheaters often lie or deny. Be prepared for escape clauses, denial, and dismissal of your claims, defensiveness, or distraction. These reactions come from fear. Being conversational rather than confrontational will allow your partner to feel safe enough to be honest.
GT: When do you cut your losses and move on…and when do you try and work it out?
SM: It’s not going to work if the cheater doesn’t give up the lover. That’s a non-negotiable.
If you are the cheater, it takes strength, patience, reliability and perseverance. You have to earn back the trust by being steadfast and resolute in your love and doing whatever it takes show your partner they are #1 and your relationship together is a #1 priority.
If you are the betrayed, it takes a willingness to heal, forgive and open up your heart again.
Together as a team, you can face the weaknesses and change the emotional climate between you. Channel your attention towards making your relationship strong. And keep saying these words to each other: “I love you,” “You are important,” “We matter,” “I want only you.”
This article written by Malia Karlinsky originally appeared on Galtime.
Has Your Online Friendship Crossed the Line?
A 60 Second Chatting or Cheating Reality Check
Has your online friendship crossed the line? Sure, it’s easy to make excuses and deny what’s happening by telling ourselves, “It’s just innocent flirting,” or “We’re only Facebook friends,” or “I’m just texting with a co-worker, that’s all!” How can you be sure that what you’re doing is really innocent and harmless, or if you’re slipping down the slippery slope towards having emotional sex?
Take this 60-second reality check quiz from my book “Chatting or Cheating” to see whether it’s just chatting or if you’re really cheating.
Exchanging personal, intimate, and confidential information (and/or had offline contact) with an online ‘friend’ that your partner doesn’t know about?
Telling your ‘friend’ you’re single when you’re not?
Sending or receiving flirtatious emails or texts?
Thinking romantic thoughts about your Friend (i.e. what life would be like if you were together)?
Spending a large amount of time (in person or online) talking, sharing, confiding with your friend and not telling your partner about it? Or worse, lying about who you are with?
Sexting—i.e. sending or receiving a sexy message or photo?
Finding yourself sexually and/or emotionally aroused when you think about your friend?
Imagining you are in bed with your ‘friend,’ while making love with your partner?
Secretly purchasing intimate gifts for your friend or for you to wear while online with your friend?
Visiting or participating in a sex chat room with your friend?
Doing anything sexual using your webcam (or your imagination)?
Sharing your sexual fantasies, masturbating and/or mutually masturbating?
Answering YES to questions 1-5 should set off some blaring alarms in your head that you are definitely rapidly sliding down the EMOTIONAL SEX slippery slope into the CHEATING ZONE.
Answering YES to questions 6-12 is a strong indicator that you are ALREADY IN the CHEATING ZONE.
These behaviors put your primary relationship at risk, and if you care about saving it, you need start pouring the energy, time, and focus you’ve been giving to your “friend,” back into your relationship, fast.
If you’ve been seeking a thrill and fulfillment from outside sources, it usually means something is missing in your relationship with your partner. If that’s the case, it’s time to take a serious, hard look at what’s really going on and fix it.
It’s totally free, and in it you’ll learn just how easily your seemingly innocent friendship can transform into a full blown affair once EMOTIONAL SEX takes over. You’ll gain further insight into your current situation and the 6 main relationship vulnerabilities that open the door to cheating.
The cost of an affair, be it physical, emotional, or cyber, can be devastating to a relationship. It’s never too late to turn things around, even if you’ve already crossed a line (or if your partner has).
The roadmap to healing starts when you take off the blinders of affair-denial and become affair-aware.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
Infidelity is as old as civilization. But in today’s technology-driven world staying connected, and getting intimate has never been easier or more dangerous. Thanks to smartphones and the internet, your love “fix” is never far away.
You become friends with the sexy co-worker and decide to carpool to work together. You become “friends” with an ex on Facebook and reminisce about the past. Pretty soon, you find yourself glowing every time you spend time with this person. They totally “get” you. You can talk about anything. You spend hours thinking about them and your heart races whenever you see a text from them. You feel more alive than you have in a long time.
There’s just one small problem. You’re married, or engaged, or you’re in a committed relationship. You tell yourself it’s ok because you’re not really cheating, you’re just chatting. You’re not having sex, you’re just friends. Right?
Okay, so you haven’t had sex. At least not yet. But you are having emotional sex, and that can be even more intense, sensual and all-consuming than physical sex.
What is emotional sex?
Emotional sex is a friendship that escalates into something that feels the same as romantic love and can manifest itself in numerous ways — physically, romantically, emotionally, lustfully, verbally, or virtually.
Friendship becomes emotional sex when the feel-good brain chemicals and hormones that are released when even thinking about that person take over. Any contact with the person becomes as potent as a drug addiction.
All those tingly feelings and the fantasies that perhaps a “perfect love” can really exist isn’t destiny knocking — they’re caused by “love chemicals” in your brain. Biochemical research has shown that the effect of these love chemicals is twofold: they are released in response to your friend, and they bond you to him or her. This is especially true of women who produce higher levels of oxytocin — the bonding hormone that enhances the feeling of having found your “soul mate” connection.
These addictive love chemicals feel so good that it’s difficult for you to even imagine ending contact with your friend. Your connection feels genuine and even life-sustaining. Letting go of such intoxicating nourishment seems unimaginable.
Before you are tempted to do something risky—like leave your stable, good relationship for your exciting emotional lover—it’s important to examine what’s really going on.
Has Your Platonic Friendship Crossed the Line?
There’s a huge difference between a platonic friendship and a friendship that has crossed the line into the emotional sex danger zone.
A platonic friendship doesn’t have elements of sexual chemistry or attraction.
You may love your friend, but you don’t fantasize or daydream about him or her. Everything is out in the open. Your partner can join in at any time.
In contrast, emotional sex is much more secretive and it drains energy from your primary relationship.
If you’re having intimate talks and sharing things you should only be sharing with your primary partner, or you’re sending late night ‘just thinking of you’ flirty texts, you’re not having just an innocent friendship. If you find yourself having sexual or romantic fantasies about your friend, you’ve crossed the line into emotional sex. You may argue you’re just Facebook friends, or you’re just innocently flirting and it means nothing. But no matter how you may rationalize it, these are huge trumpet blaring warning signs that your friendship is crossing the line into emotional sex, and therefore cheating.
The 5 Warning Signs That You’re Vulnerable to Cheating
Infidelity is as old as civilization. But in today’s technology-driven world, meeting, staying connected, and getting intimate has never been easier or more dangerous. Thanks to smartphones and the internet, your love “fix” is never far away.
In truth, most infidelity occurs not because it is planned, but because people find themselves in situations where their emotions completely overwhelm (and even surprise) them. While people trapped in troubled marriages are more vulnerable to infidelity, I’ve discovered that a surprising number of people in seemingly solid relationships also respond to the novelty of new love and end up getting swept away by an affair.
Having an affair is usually a symptom of an underlying problem in your life and in your relationship. Something is missing, and that missing element makes you vulnerable to temptation. You may turn to emotional intimacy with another to fill in the missing piece.
These are the five warning signs that your relationship is vulnerable to cheating:
- You feel lonely. You may share the same address but live in two different worlds. You’re spending less time together due to work, the children, or separate interests.
- Lack of communication. Small issues turn into disagreements and power struggles. You give each other the silent treatment. You may feel under-appreciated, bottled up, or like you’re walking on tiptoes not to rattle any cages.
- Lack of love, affection and intimacy. Things are feeling pretty dead at home and you find yourself resorting to some stimulation outside your relationship to shake things up.
- Boredom, complacency and emotional distance. Your relationship has become routine. You long for more emotional or sexual attention from your partner, but it feels like a wall exists between you.
- A sexual disconnect. You feel more like roommates than lovers. The attention and affection has dwindled, and you no longer see each other through the eyes of desire.
Affairs don’t have to be sexual to be destructive to your existing relationship. Emotional sex can be even more intense and all-consuming than physical sex. It can cause the same havoc, mistrust and betrayal in a relationship as sexual infidelity, often leading to a break-up.
The first step to healing is completely disengaging from your emotional lover, then recognizing the weaknesses in your primary relationship and addressing them immediately. Only then can you bring stable footing to your relationship and start infusing it with the love, attention, appreciation, and affection you and your partner both deserve.
Want to know more? Click here.
Why Your Relationship Needs a Social Media PreNup
After Infidelity - Can a Marriage Be Saved?
Chatting or Cheating: When Does it Start?
Dr. Sheri on CBS's "The Couch"
Cheating on the Web
Why Powerful Men Cheat
The Difference Between Chatting and Cheating
5 Reasons Why Men Cheat
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