Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Emotional Infidelity

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What is emotional infidelity. What most likely comes to mind is the broken trust that forms when your partner shares emotional intimacy with someone of the opposite sex. It is perhaps fair to say that most affairs begin not by crossing sexual boundaries but by crossing emotional boundaries.

But another form of emotional infidelity is more common. This takes the form of not sharing your emotional self with your partner. Achieving intimacy with your partner requires sharing your views, feelings and desires. Closeness is compromised when you withhold this information in order to avoid tension.

“If I let you know how I really feel, then you’ll feel bad, so it’s better to not say anything.”

“If we can be rational, then we can avoid silly disagreements.”

“Differences are dangerous to our relationship, let’s ignore our differences so we can have a nice day.”

Each of these statements reflect the belief that confronting differences is likely to be harmful and that it is better to withhold one’s opinion than create tension. At times this is true (“Do I look fat in this dress?” for example:) but in general it is more harmful to withhold yourself from your partner. Here are some reasons:

  • Holding in resentments is like storing up firecrackers in your closet. When you set off enough of them, you have an exploding bomb!
  • Differences expressed can deepen your connection while simply blending on the surface creates a shallow relationship.
  • To feel deeply loved you must feel your partner knows the real you.
  • If you hide your views, feelings or desires you will not be able to negotiate for your share in the relationship, which will ultimately lead you to be dissatisfied.

Remember that sharing your views, feelings and desires does not mean being aggressive in expressing yourself. Also, you must be willing to take steps to understand your partner just as you wish to be understood. If each of you makes this effort the reward will be a deeper, more resilient bond.

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