Ask Kim: Am I Having An Emotional Affair?
SHESAID resident psychologist Kim Chartres answers your most awkward and confronting questions.
I’ve been getting quite close to a male colleague of mine recently. For the past year we’ve grown into really good friends, we have stacks in common and I really enjoy being around him, but at the last few work functions we both got quite drunk and told each other we were attracted to each other. Nothing happened because we both have long-term partners, but I feel quite guilty.
Lately I’ve found myself dreaming about being with him quite a lot. Am I being unfair to my partner? I still love my boyfriend very much.
I saw an interview with Johnny Depp once and the concept of what he had to say, might cast some perspective on your situation. Deep old Johnny suggested it’s impossible to love two people intimately at the same time, because if you truly loved the first person, a second would never have had the opportunity to make their way into your heart in the first place.
I’d have to agree with Johnny. When you really are totally and completely in love with someone, you simply don’t develop feelings for anyone else. You’d never intentionally do anything to hurt them and you respect them enough to be completely honest with them, even if you have to look into their eyes and see their utter disappointment.
You may think it’s love. It may even feel and look like love, but when put to the test and you find someone else compatible and attractive, you’d never allow yourself to get close to them, in any capacity, because it’s setting yourself up for developing that attraction further, which sounds like you and your colleague have done.
Additionally, you mention dreaming about being with this other person, which indicates there’s something missing from your current relationship, despite the feelings you claim to have. This suggests to me that it’s probably time to reevaluate your relationship and either search for what’s missing and try to fix it together or be kind to yourself and your current partner and move on.
The fact that your current relationships are primarily what stopped you both from taking your friendship to the next level is another issue. While it was a positive thing you didn’t give into temptation and both considered your current partners, it indicates your colleague is obviously experiencing some sort of void in his relationship too. Combined, you are both getting your emotional needs met through this friendship but unfortunately you’re also both playing with fire.
So, to answer your question regarding whether or not you’re being unfair to your boyfriend, I’m going to be blatantly honest with you and and say, yes you are. Your feeling of guilt basically confirms you’re doing something you know will hurt your partner. Plus it demonstrates you know what you’ve done is wrong, regardless of anything physical taking place. Emotional cheating can be equally, if not more hurtful, than physically cheating. That’s because it’s not simply a weak moment of physical attraction or a relationship based upon sex but attraction that is far more substantial.
Your guilt is also indicative of keeping this secret from your partner. If you do care about him, you need to come clean and tell him. Not necessarily about your dreams, because they are your private thoughts, but about feeling attracted to someone else. This will either make your relationship stronger and you can work on whatever is missing between the two of you, or it will go the other way and you’ll both decide to end it.
Whatever you decide to do about this situation, I wish you the best of luck. Be courageous, honest, tell him only what’s relevant, and everything will work itself out.
One final word of advice though. If everything does work out for the better with your current partner, back off on the friendship with your colleague. Instead, concentrate on filling the void of whatever’s missing in your current relationship that caused you to get so close to someone else in the first place and focus on building a stronger bond with your partner.
Got a relationship dilemma or serious life issue you’re not sure how to deal with? Send your questions to Kim at email@example.com.