An emotional attachment is the bond of inner security, trust and confidence we build with people or things. It is that which makes you want to share the extra things and the more intimate part of yourself without the fear of betrayal or mistrust.
When we are emotionally attached to people, we always want to be with them, hear their jokes, enjoy their walks, attend social functions with them and sometimes even church programmes.
This is not wrong in itself but if left unchecked can veer into emotional affairs – the danger zone!
An emotional affair makes the parties involved emotionally dependent on each other at the expense of those legitimately deserving of the deep, extra care, attention and communication (especially between spouses).
Such diverted intimacy is unfaithfulness to the deserving parties and this we term as emotional affair; it is ‘cheating’ too!
How then do you notice an emotional affair?
1. You become obsessed. Emotional affairs make you overprotective and extra demanding of the one you are attached to.
It always makes you feel that you have the sole and authoritative right to the person (basically, in terms of time and attention) and to everything about the person above all others.
In emotional affairs, allowances for disappointments are a big “NO!;” excuses that used to be pardonable simply become unpardonable.
Here, you already assume the position of “Mr” or “Mrs” and inwardly reward yourself for it when all is based on assumptions or mere speculations.
2. You become jealous. Emotional affairs
strike up jealousy and insecurity at the sight of others (not only the opposite sex).
You call him “friend” yet when another gentleman or lady seems to have more of his attention and time, you get angry and feel hurt within as though you two were dating or married.
Emotional affairs always provokes your spouse to jealous. Always!
And I’m not talking about overly jealous or contentious people. I’m talking about people who trust their spouses yet cannot just seem to accommodate this thing you are calling ‘ordinary friendship.’
3. Deep hurt at the slightest provocation and from unmet expectations.
Emotional affairs are not as clearly demonstrated as fornication but hurts to discover that your date or spouse is fully, emotionally satisfied ‘elsewhere.’ It is more painful to have someone physically present but emotionally absent.
4. You can hardly notice and admit an emotional affair because it thrives on the innocency of friendship.
“O, he or she is just my friend…just mere friends…We are good pals…we are best friends…just friends…O, he or she is even married.”
Meanwhile, this so-called innocent, harmless ‘friendship’ almost, always leads to greater evils.
It becomes more dreadful when your attacher shares many of your interests too so you get emotionally satisfied with him or her at the expense your spouse’s presence and relations to you.
5. Expressing strong preference for the person
An emotional affair can get so bad that you may prefer your “emotional partner” (if I can call it so) cooking for you than your own spouse.
You may prefer going for church programmes, attending social ceremonies or even hanging out at eateries and cinemas with them than with your spouse.
Emotional affairs make you care less and usually emotionally absent when with your actual spouse or ‘truly-deserving partner’ because you’ve already been emotionally satisfied ‘elsewhere.’
Sometimes, people employ emotions to punish their spouses.
Some husbands have grown to love and prefer their daughters cook for them instead of their wives!
And some wives have grown to enjoy the company of their own sons rather than that of their husbands!
Others have emotional affairs even with objects! Cellphones, social media, movies, etc.
These too are emotional affairs. Very innocent on the outside but unfaithfulness to those truly deserving of your healthy and intimate emotional commitment.
1. When you realise that your attachment is sparking jealousy to an appreciable extent, don’t argue with your spouse. Just cut that attachment off.
2. You can suffocate an emotional affair by CONSCIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY restraining communication.
For instance, you may have to REDUCE or entirely STOP (depending on how far things have gone) visiting, calling, frequent check ups, messaging-and-replies intervals, going to places together, giving attention, leashing out gifts, and even seeking advice from the attacher if it draws you closer than intended.
3. Consciously involve your spouse in conversations. Learn to discuss everything with your spouse or get more than one trusted person to share stuff with.
4. Never mistake an emotional affair for friendship. It’s gross deception to merge the two!
5. Watch out for the extent to which you can become vulnerable. Caution cannot be overemphasised at that level where all your walls of defence are broken and you even expose body parts without apology (just an example).
While an emotional attachment seeks to build friendship and enhance a peaceful relationship, an emotional affair takes on a selfish interest and fuels lust and greed.
Andrew Osei Agyapong