Jeff Herring, a marriage and family therapist, and an internationally syndicated relationship columnist (Knight-Ridder/Tribune Media Services) identifies ten warning signs of an impending emotional affair:

1) Thinking or saying, “We’re just friends.”

If you have caught yourself thinking or saying, “but we’re just friends,” you are probably already in trouble. “But we’re just friends” are four of the most dangerous words for a relationship. These words are usually said to rationalize something you know is wrong. Rationalize is also spelled “rational lies.”

2) Thinking and daydreaming about the person more and more often

This should be a loud, screaming clue. Do you think and day dream about your regular friends in this way?

3) Looking forward to the next time you can see and/or talk to the person

If you feel excitement and anticipation, a quickening of your pulse, as you get ready to see this person, watch out.

4) Wanting to tell them first when something happens in your day

This means that this person has become your primary emotional confidant.

5) Sharing intimate emotions

This flows naturally from this person being your primary emotional confidant. Because emotional affairs can be harder to break than purely physical ones, you can get trapped right here.

6) Sharing intimate problems

Especially dangerous if you are sharing problems in your marriage or relationship with this other person.

7) You believe that this person understands you much more than your spouse

Of course it looks like they do. That is part of the illusion of the affair. This belief draws you away from your partner and toward the other person.

8) Keeping secrets and covering up

Secrets bond two people together against a third person.

9) Giving gifts you would not normally give to a friend

Things to wear, jewelry, and other intimate gifts come with a message: we are very close.

10) Spending more and more time alone

I’ve heard so many people tell me that this was the one that pushed them over the edge. They had promised themselves that nothing would happen, but the temptation and availability of time alone was too much to resist.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild wind can rage through your life leaving you much like the lyrics of a country song: without a wife, […]

When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate measures to control a mood disorder, that faithfulness and piety can disguise acute […]

One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from the drama queen at the water cooler). Why? Because we actually become […]

For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a third, stuff her full of refined sugar and processed foods, force her into social gatherings at […]