Let’s talk about emotional affairs. Where do they come from? How do they happen? What stages does a person go through when they’re having an emotional affair? 

When we talk about this thing, how does it happen? Well, understand that an emotional affair has to involve a deeper, emotional connection with another person. And the only way we can develop a deep, emotional connection with another person that’s reciprocal, not just some crush I have on you that you don’t know about, would be if we’re communicating with each other, but not just about mundane, ordinary things. Typically, an emotional affair will begin with somebody who’s not looking for one. For example, I am talking to a coworker or somebody I regularly see at the bus stop because I ride that bus to work or some situation like that.

There was one we dealt with years ago, where it happened in a donut shop. She would go into the donut shop every day to buy donuts for the office. And she started interacting with the guy who owned that shop. They started kidding around with each other, and the conversations got longer and longer. And so finally they decided they would meet other places to talk as well because they enjoyed each other.

So the first thing that would happen is that you have some vulnerability like, “Hey, this person’s actually listening to me. This person thinks I’m funny. This person cares about me. And this person says things that lead me to feel better about myself.” Any positive interaction you have with another person can be the beginning of an emotional affair.

At this point, you’re thinking, “Good grief, are you saying I should live in some bubble and never talk to anybody anywhere, anytime?” No, we’re not. But we’re saying if that vulnerability is there, you probably should recognize it and be aware of how powerful it can be. Because the first thing that happens after that vulnerability is you start having interactions with each other to the point that they gradually begin to cross boundaries.

Listen to this episode of Relationship Radio to hear Dr. Joe Beam discuss the stages of emotional affairs, how they begin, and what people go through. In the next episode, we’ll discuss how someone can overcome an emotional affair, so be sure to listen!

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