Your phone rings. It’s your partner telling you they have to work late, again. You hang up completely frustrated about their demanding job and impossibly hectic schedule. Over the past six months, you’ve felt more and more disconnected. Disappointed with your situation at home, you started spending more time with friends from work. A few months ago, your “single” work friend began texting you outside office hours. At first you didn’t think anything of the “innocent” banter, but then you started texting more frequently and even sent a few flirtatious texts. You find yourself texting when bored, lonely, or need to vent about your partner. In your mind, you justify the texts. “It’s okay… we aren’t doing anything wrong so there’s no harm in our clandestine contact.” Yet, you sneak around sending messages and delete text threads so you partner doesn’t find them. If it really were okay, surely you’d share it with them, right?
In today’s modern age, technology is integral to our daily lives and text is a preferred mode of communication. With the ease of interacting on-line comes an increased risk of people engaging in emotional or technological affairs. A recent trend known as “chexting” refers to cheating via text message. People who engage in chexting often find themselves seduced into the “50 shades of grey” continuum. It might start innocently, but can easily shift into flirtatious or saucy content aka “sexting”, which is unbearably close to a full-blown sexual affair. Because texts are documented, both parties can re-read the thread, reliving the arousal and revisiting the thrill. Regardless of where you fall on the continuum, chexting is dangerous even if you aren’t caught. When you share intimate feelings with someone else, you’re turning away from your partner and shutting them out. This perpetuates the underlying disconnect and prevents conflict from being resolved, which can make your text partner look even more attractive. Rather than pouring energy into false fantasies or discussing your relationship problems with someone else, you’d be better off focusing on what needs to be different in your relationship.
It’s best to talk about the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not in your relationship before it becomes an issue. If you want to know whether something is crossing the line, ask your partner. A basic rule of thumb is, if you’re engaging in behaviors that you don’t want your partner to know about, you probably should be thinking twice about what you’re doing. Before sending questionable content to someone else, think about how your partner would react if they read it. Listen to Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT discuss chexting and preventative strategies with Jimmy Cefalo on the WIOD 610 am radio show.
Whether you’ve been cheated on, heard tragic stories from friends, or simply fear it happening to you; infidelity is the ultimate betrayal! Although infidelity of any kind is devastating and really challenging to overcome, it’s not impossible. Therapy is a valuable resource for healing and repairing relationships in the wake of an affair. If you find yourself nearing the affair territory, individual or couples therapy can help you find the solutions to rebuild a positive connection with your partner and reignite the spark in your relationship.
Ultimately, no relationship is completely immune to infidelity and it’s important to proactively attend to your needs and your partner’s needs. According to Dr. Gottman’s research, the healthiest, most satisfied long-term relationships are those that have a strong foundation of friendship and emotional intimacy. These couples turn toward one another to talk about day-to-day stuff and share their inner most hopes, fears, and desires. Essentially, if you want to affair proof your relationship, make sure your partner is your best friend and have fun keeping the passion alive!