Avoiding Emotional Adultery

Avoiding emotional adultery opposite sex friendship at work adobe stockWhen you find yourself connecting with another person who starts becoming in even the smallest way a substitute for your marital partner, you’ve started traveling a dangerous road. That’s when avoiding emotional adultery is important, because that is the turn that is starting to take place. So, how do you protect yourself —and your marriage?

Here are some helpful principles:

1.  Know your boundaries.

You should put fences around your heart and protect the sacred ground that is reserved only for your spouse. Barbara and I are careful to share our deepest feelings, needs, and difficulties only with each other and not with friends of the opposite sex.

2.  Realize the power of the eyes.

They are the “windows of your soul.” Pull the shades down if you sense someone is pausing a little too long in front of those windows. It’s true that good eye contact is necessary for fruitful communication, but there is a deep type of look that must be reserved for only one person: your mate.

Frankly, I don’t trust myself. Some women may think I’m insecure because I don’t hold eye contact too long, but that’s not it at all. I simply don’t trust my humanity. I’ve seen what has happened to others, and I know it could happen to me.

3.  Beware of isolation and concealment.

One strategy of the enemy is to isolate you from your spouse, by tempting you to keep secrets from your mate. Barbara and I both realize the danger of concealment in our marriage. We work hard at bringing things out into the open and discussing them. Our closets are empty.

4.  Extinguish any chemical reactions that may have begun.

A friendship with the opposite sex that is beginning to meet needs your mate should be meeting must be ended quickly. A simple rule of chemistry is this: To stop a chemical reaction, remove one of the elements. It may be painful or embarrassing at first, but it isn’t as painful as suffering the results of temptation that has given birth to sin.

Ruth Senter wrote an article for Partnership Magazine entitled simply, “Rick.” It was an incredibly honest examination of a godly wife’s encounter and ensuing friendship with a Christian man she met in a graduate class. Her struggle and godly response to this temptation were graphically etched in a letter that ended that relationship. She wrote,

“Friendship is always going somewhere unless it’s dead. You and I both know where ours is going. When a relationship threatens the stability of commitments we’ve made to the people we value the most, it can no longer be.”

5. Ask God to remind you how important it is to fear Him.

The fear of God has turned me from many a temptation. it would be one thing if another person learned I had compromised my vows, but it’s quite another thing to realize that God’s throne would have a knowledge of my disloyalty to Barbara faster than the speed of light.

It has been said that a “secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.” My Heavenly Father and my earthly father are there right now. Thinking of hurting them keeps me pure.

This article came from the book, Staying Close: Stopping the Natural Drift Toward Isolation in Marriage by Dennis Rainey, published by Thomas Nelson Publishing. This book won the Gold Medallion Book Award in recognition of excellence in evangelical Christian literature. It’s highly recognized as being a powerful book for those who are married. It helps those of us who are married to learn how to pull together instead of drift apart.


To read a related article on this subject, please click onto the link provided below to read:


To read another related article, please click onto the Crosswalk.com link below:


To better deal with emotional adultery issues, it’s important to answer the question, “Is another relationship betraying your spouse?” How can you recognize danger signs and what do you do to better guard your marriage? These are questions that Gary and Mona Shriver address in the Todayschristianwoman.com article:


If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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31 responses to “Avoiding Emotional Adultery

  1. (UGANDA) If I had been asked who between my wife and I would be more at risk of infidelity, I’d have offered myself 10 times before I’d pick her. Not because I am an incorrigible man, not because I have a history. maybe I was just naive. Last month, I discovered that my wife had been having an emotional affair with my best friend, my accountability partner. My wife and I are both born again and so is my friend and his wife.

    When I confronted her she blamed it on me; said I wasn’t meeting her emotional needs and thats why she sought to have those met elsewhere. She was unapologetic -she turned it around, it was my fault. And yes, I may have taken her for granted but it still doesn’t justify her actions. It hurt. It still hurts. I am finding it difficult to trust her. But I love her and I immediately started correcting my faults; taking more notice and making her feel valued to me. I thought to myself, even if they didn’t engage sexually (so she says), maybe I’d rather that they had if it had been a purely physical thing, than to know that we (seldom) make love but on her part there’s no love in it. She’s in love with another woman’s husband, who also happens to be her very good friend.

    It’s very messed up. I don’t trust a single human anymore, not after 2 of the people I trusted most betrayed me and the God they profess in this way. Emotional adultery/infidelity is real even among Christians and within Church leadership. Pray. Pray without ceasing because only God can help deliver us from the wily ways of Satan!

  2. My wife had an emotional affair for 10 yrs. I think it was an addiction. When I found out I was hurt and angry. I needed love and all I got was occasional sex. She could have been a blow up doll. I feel she should have told me. I would have divorced her and maybe found love else where.

  3. Never get counseling from someone from the opposite sex. Keep the eyes from fluttering. That is very hard, because in some cultures, that is not looking them in the eye and is considered rude. Ladies need company. If you are a lady, then find female friends at Church. Love them and get Jesus to shine through you. He (JESUS) is your husband. There may also be a real husband. Treat him well, respect him. Ask God to help you fear Him each day. Wait on Him. BE thankful for the temptations that await you and keep running to the Lord. Get to know Jesus well. Be an example to others. Keep Jesus #1. Pray at all times and keep on memorizing Scripture. Ask the Lord to help you keep your mind on Him. Ask Jesus to keep your emotional tank full. Put on the full armour of God.

  4. My husband communicated with another woman on a message board online. I happen to find it by accident because he forgot to log out of it and I was using his cell phone and came across it. It was horrible. He betrayed me in so many ways. Although there wasn’t a sexual encounter, it was deeply emotional.

    He claims he stopped having contact with her but the trust is gone. I don’t believe him. In their online exchanges, they talked about how to communicate outside of the message board.

    We are not separated or divorced but our marriage is struggling. I don’t know what to expect in the future. I know God can heal our relationship. I don’t trust my spouse anymore, but I do trust Christ.

    I share all of this, in hopes that ANYONE who is having an emotional affair no matter the venue, please STOP it NOW and ask God to give you the power and strength to put your energy into your marriage. It’s a devastating and hurtful experience. And the explanation of “We didn’t have sex…” doesn’t stop the pain. Betraying my heart hurt just as bad. I rest in knowing Christ too, knows what it feels like to have someone close to him betray him. Christ is there for us… who are hurting. He knows and understands. Lean on Him. Be blessed.

  5. Hi. I’d like to post my story and ask a question. I’m a Christian of 30 yrs and have been married for 31 yrs. My husband has been unfaithful for most of my marriage but I found out for sure in 2001. It affected me so badly he was a luster, a porn addict, a 24/7 masturbater. There were times we would have sex three times for the year. We argued. I cursed. I hated him…I became clinically depressed was on medication…I had a stroke and now have hypertension. All from stress.

    I’m still married to him but I don’t love him. He had a paradigm shift three years ago when God showed him himself. He hated what he saw and made a 180 degree turn. He’s improving but I still don’t love him and always felt I could never love either him or anyone else nor could I receive love.

    Now a friend of mine from 40 yrs ago has come back into my life and opened me up to both emotional and sexual feelings. I believe I love him and he wants to marry me. He is no longer a Christian tho but I don’t want to hurt my husband especially since he has turned back to the Lord. I’m very uncomfortable and don’t know where to go from here.

    1. J, You feel “uncomfortable” at this time because the Holy Spirit is convicting you. I’m so sorry that you are having problems with your husband and that you don’t “feel” the love you believe you should for him. But none the less, that does not negate the fact that you ARE married to him, and that this other “friend” is not yours to “open” you up to “emotional and sexual feelings.” Whether or not you believe you love him isn’t the point. The point is that as a professing follower of Jesus Christ, what do you think Jesus would have you do? Do you honestly believe He would have you leave your husband –a new follower of Christ, to leave him to be with someone else (especially someone who “no longer is a Christian”)? I hope you will be honest here.

      This weekend (Saturday) we will be posting a new Marriage Insight, on this type of subject. Please look for it. Within it, you will find many related articles that I encourage you to prayerfully read. Please let go of this “friend” of yours. He may or may not have good intentions, but no matter what, he is stepping into your marriage and shouldn’t be there. You have a lot of praying and soul searching and reading to do, plus, you need to put energy into your marriage, not steal it away by investing in this new “love.”

      If you walk away at this point, you could be a stumbling block in your husband’s walk of faith. He is new and is just getting his feet planted upon the firm foundation of Christ. Please go with God on this, look around this web site for articles to read and glean through, and see what God can do for you both. I know this isn’t the answer you wanted, but it’s an honest one –one I believe God wants me to give you. If you go to this other guy, you are adding to his sin, plus you are adding to your own as you do that, which you know God is telling you not to. You would also be missing out on God’s resurrecting power to give you love, help you to grow love, and help you to walk in mature ways that is ordained by God, no doubt.

      Would it be difficult to do what I’m proposing? Absolutely. But going God’s way almost always is. But think of Jesus and His journey to the cross for us. Did He take the “easier more appealing” way, or did He give up all His comforts to give His all for us? Please participate in this miracle walk, and leave the wider road that many have traveled. Participate with God in growing, showing love, where there seems to be none. God, whose name is LOVE, can teach you how to love.

      I absolutely understand why you wouldn’t want to do this, but I hope and pray you will. You will have a lot to forgive and work through and past. I’m so sorry for that. But please consider that Christ has forgiven you for a lot too. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) I pray for you and your husband. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

  6. This is a really great article and I don’t think a husband is insecure for intentionally creating a boundary to not keeping eye contact with the opposite sex. For you to admittedly pull the wool over your eyes when someone is in your view for too long, is honest. It is admirable to see a man so wilfully protecting himself from the chance of enjoying another woman’s beauty, company and/or conversation. Making the individual choice to create boundries to lower the risk of connecting with someone else because of a promise you made to God, her and all the family and friends who gave their support, love and trust in you two in creating that union of family/friendship to further continue their legacy. It’s true that you’re not letting just them down or her is much worse than missing those moments or looking bad to that person; you’re letting God down and you’ll feel much worse about if not enough to look like you can’t control yourself around another. Rather then low self esteem it’s honorable and in my opinion is much stronger of a man to protect his marriage and own the promise. And that will bring to you the kind of people you know you can truly depend on and aren’t selfish that don’t put their wants in font of your needs.

  7. Sorry for the previous post being so long and is why I’m posting this seperately. Please share what you guys and gals think about this because I can’t make sense of it. My husband and myself used to discuss emotional infidelity being so easy and both agreed that it can happen when sharing a connection reserved for another is enough to call it as emotional affairs. We’ve always wondered if people of the opposite sex are the only ones it’s even possible to do that with or can it be anyone you connect to on that deep level?

    Can it be also with a friend you’ve had your entire life or a cousin and siblings that can also be the ones you emotionally have an affair with? And how do you determine such an affair when already so close to these people. Or is it just anyone who threatens your union by allowing/pushing you to lie, allowing secrets to be kept or having certain discussions or joking about another’s spouse you know sacrafices the trust or hurts the other, but to get or because they already have the attention of that friend/cousin or co-worker and doesn’t want to let it go?

  8. Hi Lisa, here are a couple of definitions that I picked up on the internet concerning the definition of an emotional affair: “It’s an emotional connection with someone of the opposite sex that you keep a secret from your spouse. Basically, emotional affairs occur when one partner is channeling physical or emotional energy, time and attention into someone other than the person they are in a committed relationship with to the point that their partner feels neglected.” Wikipedia defines Emotional Affairs as “An affair, which excludes physical intimacy but includes emotional intimacy.”

    Also, “What distinguishes an emotional affair from a friendship is the assumption of emotional roles between the two participants that mimic of those of an actual relationship. …The intimacy between the people involved usually stems from a friendship with confidence to tell each other intimate aspects of themselves, their relationships, or even subjects they wouldn’t talk with their partners.” Dr. Shirley Glass of Psychology Today says, “Infidelity is that you took something that was supposed to belong to the other spouse, which is sexual or emotional intimacy, and you gave it to somebody else.”

    Lastly, “An emotional affair is defined as any infidelity that occurs through feeling or thought. With the technological development of cell phones and the internet, the definition of cheating has been expanded to include the traditional definition, plus the feelings and/or thoughts that comprise emotional infidelity. Cheating now includes having intimate correspondence with someone while on a cell phone, meeting someone over the Internet or at work and maintaining a close, personal relationship with someone other than your spouse.”

    There is an intimate connection between the two unmarried people even though there is one or two spouses that are now off on the sidelines. The affair partners are now front and center in their connection with one another. A friendship may be close, but emotional affair partners cross beyond that line. They push the spouses back in heartfelt priorities. The one spouse is on one side, the other spouse is on the other, and the affair partner stands emotionally in the middle–separating the two in connection.

    I don’t know if this helps, but it’s all about connection and intimacy–where the other spouse is pushed off to the sidelines in priorities and emotional closeness.

  9. I am 32 year old wife. I serve in children’s ministry with another teacher (20 years old). During our breaks we would chat. Initially I was genuinely intruiged. We started sharing text messages and I was interested to know more about his testimony due to the similarities in our background. I wanted to hear answers. He asked to meet up multiple times, and I thought it was weird but I figured it was just in my head. I started to question whether it was appropiate or not. I realized maybe perhaps he liked me, not sure.

    We kept texting and the text messages became flirty and eventually dirty. I started to get butterflies in my tummy when he would text me; it would make me nervous. It was a new thing and new things are exiting. The first time we met up, nothing happened, I was too nervous to even talk. The second time we met up, he made a move on me. He began to touch me in areas that were inappropite. My flesh certainly wanted the advances but in my mind I kept thinking of everything that would be at stake if I had sex with him.

    I resisted to anything more, we didn’t kiss or have sex. He tried hard to convince me but I kept thinking how my husband doesn’t derserve this. I am the only woman he has ever been with, he gave me US citizenship, he gave me a house, he gave me a child, he has given me everything, I am not unhappy in my marriage but it just happened.

    I need advice, I have so much guilt. I don’t want to tell my husband about it because I know that it will hurt him and at the same time I don’t want him to not trust me anymore. The guy and I have stopped talking, we broke it off that same day. But I will say that I feel hurt by all of this, I feel shame, I feel like trash. I’ve been praying about it. I can’t stop thinking about him but I know it’s a lie of the enemy making me think I have feelings when in reality it’s just lust. Please pray for me. Godly advice would be greatly appreciated.