Dear Annie

I have been married for twelve years and we have three children. My husband currently has a five year contract where he works away for three months and then he is home for a month. Although we have adjusted to the routine, it is not without its problems.

Part of why I am coping better now is because of my strong support system and friends

One of my closest friends is a man I work with. One evening, when my husband was last home, I got a text from this friend, Kevin and I was laughing about it. My husband walked in and he wanted to know who I was talking to and he was very unhappy to discover that it was another man.

He acted like I was having an affair! He demanded to know how long Kevin and I had been friends and I knew that if I told him he would not understand.

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I think that he is totally over-reacting, but we had a big fight about it and he wants me to end this friendship. As Kevin and I work together this is not possible. Kevin has always been so supportive of me and I can even talk to him about my problems that I have in my relationship with my husband.

Having Kevin in my life makes the loneliness bearable

I have always been faithful to my husband and Kevin respects this. He is not in a relationship, but he knows that we canâ??t be more than friends. Surely men and woman are able to be platonic friends with each other?

I donâ??t know how to resolve this. My husband is a good man and I know that he is sacrificing a lot by being away from the children and me. This contract is very lucrative and will enable us to pay off our house by the time it ends. Having Kevin in my life makes the loneliness bearable. What should I do?

Nadene

Dear Nadene

Thank you for your letter. Having your husband away for three months at a time must be very trying and I can understand that you feel lonely.

It sounds like your friendship with Kevin has become very meaningful for you. Clearly your husband thinks that it has become too meaningful!

Even though you and Kevin are not physically involved, you are obviously emotionally involved, and so the question to ask is: â??When is an affair an affair?â?

The absence of sexual intimacy does not mean that it is not an affair

Some experts will argue that an emotional affair is far worse than a sexual affair. The reason being that there is a complete absence of guilt and denial of there being an affair, because it is not physical. This means that it can continue and often deepens.

If there was a breathalyser available to test emotional affairs, it would pick up on your excitement to see the other person. Accelerated heartbeat at a text or anticipated contact would all put you over the emotional limit to operate a platonic relationship.

When you choose to wear that slinky new jersey to work, are you thinking of Maude the frumpy receptionist, or could Kevinâ??s possible reaction be on your mind?

When you choose to wear that slinky new jersey to work, are you thinking of Maude the frumpy receptionist, or could Kevinâ??s possible reaction be on your mind?

Could you consider how much emotional energy you give Kevin, which you are no longer giving to your husband? Perhaps the lines are blurred for you, because you feel able to talk to Kevin about problems in your marriage. This in fact creates an intimacy between Kevin and you, which includes the two of you, and excludes your husband!

Is Maude the frumpy receptionist also texting you outside office hours, or is that only Kevin?

Wikipedia defines an emotional affair as: “An affair which excludes physical intimacy, and is usually based on emotional intimacy. An emotional affair can also be referred to as an affair of the heart. It is a phenomenon that is not limited to married couples, affecting people in serious relationships of every type”.

Social media makes it easy to have a secret friendship

Social media and texting makes it very easy to connect with people and to secretly sustain ongoing conversations and flirting. When you keep it a secret who youâ??re constantly texting or find that you delete the conversation thread so that your significant other does not read it, it is time to call it what it is: if it’s not arrangements for his surprise birthday party, then it is an emotional affair.

Ask yourself how you would feel if your partner was involved with someone else to the extent that you are

The only way that you can say youâ??re fine with it, is if youâ??re lying and/or youâ??re trying to justify your own emotional affair.

You say that your husband is a good man. If you want him to have a marriage with you to come home to, it is time to take a hard look at your relationship with Kevin and honestly decide if you would be happy with your husband developing such a relationship with the cute new (sympathetic and understanding) coffee girl theyâ??ve hired on the oil rig.

If you find that you are in a situation where you have become attracted to your co-worker, re-acquainted Facebook friend or old high school flame, and have begun spending time talking with him more than you do with your spouse or other friends, you are heading for trouble, if you are not there already.

If you value your current relationship, be honest with your partner and make the choice to have connections only with others that still keep your relationship safe. Set safe boundaries for your platonic friendships and be transparent with your partner.

You are beautiful!
Love and blessings
Annie