Are you crossing the line?

sparking-the-old-flame Note from Dr. Sheri: I’m so happy to share with you my interview with  Malia  Karlinsky, the Love and Sex Editor at  Galtime.  Enjoy ♥

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 chatting online or crossing the line

  • • 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 chatting or cheating_woman suspecting husband

  • •  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.

 



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Backstage at the Couch

Backstage at the CouchRecently, I appeared as a guest on the CBS New York talk show, “The Couch”, during which we discussed the red flags of infidelity with the three co-hosts. We had a great time playing a little game that I call “Chatting or Cheating?”

Here’s how it went: I presented a scenario, then the three co-hosts held up a sign to vote whether they thought the person discussed in the scenario was guilty of cheating or were just innocently chatting. They were right about half the time! It just goes to show you that there’s a fine line between a platonic friendship and a secretive affair. To a casual observer, it’s hard to tell what’s really going on.

Watch the video to see if you could tell.


Would YOU be able to tell if your partner was cheating? What would tip you off? What are the signs?

Want to give it a try for yourself?

Here are several other scenarios for you to consider. Read each one and ask yourself, is this cheating, or is it just chatting? Why or why not? Then scroll down to compare your answer with mine.

Ready? Here we go…

Scenario 1: Parent “Play Dates”

parent-play-datesYou strike up a conversation with another parent at your child’s baseball practice. You make plans to carpool to the games together. You begin to dress differently (more attractively) when you know you’re going to see this parent and think about ways to stretch the time you spend together. You often suggest taking the kids out after the games, or hanging out together during the kids’ extended play dates. You think about this parent often and wonder what life would be like if you were together.

Are you just chatting or crossing the line into cheating?

My Analysis: Scenario 1: Parent Play Dates
cautionThis is definitely a slippery slope for emotional sex and more!

You are finding yourself thinking more and more about this other parent, and you are going out of your way to figure out how to see more of them. You are trying to look more attractive, dressing better, perhaps wearing make-up at times you normally would not (if you’re a woman). It’s important to ask yourself why do you want to look so attractive to this person?

Plus, the more time you spend alone together, the better chance there is that you will cross the line from emotional sex to actual physical sex. When you begin to make excuses to yourself as to WHY you should spend more time with this person, while keeping your interactions secret from your primary partner, that’s when you know you’re headed down a slippery slope. (In Chapter 7 of my book, “Chatting or Cheating?” I discuss ways to stop obsessing and end the infatuation so that you don’t end up doing something you’ll regret later.)

Scenario 2: Flirting at Work

flirting-at-workYou started to work back at your old job and there is a co-worker there that you were seeing for a while before you met and (married or started dating) your partner. Although you feel like you are a faithful person and committed to your current partner and relationship, you are enjoying the sparks and chemistry you still feel between you. You go out to lunches together, laugh and mildly flirt but nothing MORE. You know in your heart that you’d never cheat but the feelings you have makes going to work a lot more fun.

When does the fun cross the line into cheating?

My Analysis: Scenario 2: Flirting at Work
checkIt sounds like it’s just innocent mild flirting and probably nothing to worry about. Sometimes we can’t avoid being near people with whom we’ve had a former relationship, or whom we’ve dated in the past, especially if it’s someone we work with.

The red flag would be if you or your partner wasn’t being honest about the extent of the flirtation, or went on extended lunch dates so you could spend more time together, or you developing crush-like feelings and were being secretive about it.

Secrecy is a sign there’s something to hide and that you or your partner don’t want to stop doing what they’re doing with this other person because it feels good. That’s all part of the brain chemistry of cheating (the dopamine hit) and plays into why secrecy can actually INCREASE the likelihood that you or your partner will cheat. Keeping secrets can feel exciting! See Chapter 1 of my book, “Chatting or Cheating” for the full scoop on the brain chemicals that lead to the slippery slope of emotional sex.

Scenario 3: Sparking the Old Flame

sparking-the-old-flameYou discover over 300+ private messages between your partner and their old flame from college (who is single) on Facebook. In addition, you now know that they also regularly call and text each other. You’ve hacked into your significant other’s  e-mail account and read everything. Your partner tells this other person all about their problems (including your relationship problems) and goes on and on about how they wish they could be together. Your partner even proclaims that this other person is someone they’ve always dreamt of, but that they would never leave you.

Is this cheating, even though they haven’t had sex or even been physically together for years?

My Analysis: Scenario 3: Sparking the Old Flame

dangerThere are some big red flags that indicate the person is engaged in emotional sex. This scenario hits the 3 Big S’s of emotional sex– S#1-SecrecyS#2- Shared Intimacy and S#3 -Sexual Chemistry. Let’s start with 300+ private messages that you didn’t know about. There is certainly a lot of S#1 going on. The husband or wife has been sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with the other person, not you. Worse, they are discussing their problems about you and your relationship with this outside person and not you. Definitely S#2! This creates more emotional separation between you and more intimacy between them. They are looking to the other person to get their emotional needs met and there’s a lot of S#3 romantic fantasy and affection being exchanged. Even though there hasn’t been physical contact, there is an emotional bond and more being formed. It’s just a matter of time before the cyber relationship becomes a full-blown affair.

A huge breeding ground for infidelity is when we stop giving each other the 3 As: Affection, Attention and Appreciation at home and turn outside to get those needs met.

To learn more about the RED FLAGS and tell-tale signs that your partner is crossing the line into cheating, take a look at my book, “Chatting or Cheating” which can be found on Amazon & Barnes & Noble.

There are ways to protect your primary relationship from cheating that are fully in your control. You can stay alert for temptations and choose your friends wisely (in other words, if you know you’re vulnerable, stay away from attractive friends of the opposite sex, especially if they’re flirtatious!). You can keep your personal life personal when you’re chatting with a friend, and you can refrain from any kind of flirting. Flirting is how affairs start. It’s like a drug – once you get a hit, you keep wanting to come back for more and more. And if you find yourself attracted to someone, be honest about it to yourself and your primary partner. Getting these feelings out in the open can keep you from being tempted.

Put your energy and attention into making your primary relationship stronger by growing your emotional intimacy and friendship with your partner, not a stranger.

Wising you love and light,
Dr. Sheri

This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.



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chatting online or crossing the line

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.

Answer Truthfully….

 Are you…    

  1. Exchanging personal, intimate, and confidential information (and/or had offline contact) with an online ‘friend’ that your partner doesn’t know about?

  2. Telling your ‘friend’  you’re  single when you’re not?

  3. Sending or receiving flirtatious emails or texts?

  4. Thinking romantic thoughts about your Friend  (i.e. what life would be like if you were together)?

  5. 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?

  6. Sexting—i.e. sending  or receiving a sexy message or photo?

  7. Finding yourself sexually and/or emotionally  aroused when you think about your friend?

  8. Imagining you are in bed with your ‘friend,’ while making love with your partner?

  9. Secretly purchasing intimate gifts for your friend or for you to wear while online with your friend?

  10. Visiting or participating in a sex chat room with your friend?

  11. Doing anything sexual using your webcam (or your imagination)?

  12. 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.

A good place to start is by reading the first chapter of my book, available here.

 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.

 

 

 

 



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