10 Red Flags of an Emotional Affair

By Jeff Herring

Married people or people in serious relationships aren't immune to the human need for close, meaningful friendships. But sometimes, especially when those friendships are with people of the opposite sex, those relationships feel more like intimate companionship than bosom buddy-hood. If left unchecked, such relationships can evolve into what is known as "emotional affairs." 

In this gallery, syndicated relationships columnist Jeff Herring identifies 10 "red flags" that signal when a relationship is leaving "just friends" territory and veering into uncharted waters.

Click for the first emotional affair "red flag."

Red Flag #1: You Think or Say, "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 might also be spelled "rational lies."

Red Flag #2: You Daydream About Him or Her

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

Red Flag #3: You Look Forward to Seeing Him or Her

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

Red Flag #4: You Want to Tell Them News First

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

Red Flag #5: You Share 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.

Red Flag #6: You Share Intimate Problems

This practice is especially dangerous if you are sharing problems in your marriage or relationship with the other person.

Red Flag #7: You Believe He or She Understands You More Than Your Spouse

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

Red Flag #8: You Keep Secrets and Cover Up

Secrets bond two people together against a third person.

Red Flag #9: You Give Gifts

Are you 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.

Red Flag #10: You Spend More Time Alone

So many people say this was the one that pushed them over the edge. They had promised themselves nothing would happen, but the temptation and availability of time alone - with the person just a phone call away - was too much to resist.

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