What kills a marriage quicker: A physical affair or an emotional one?
When I heard Karan Johar say on television that there is a distinction between a physical affair and being in love, and that he didn’t ‘consider physical infidelity as infidelity in the larger sense of the word’ and that a physical affair sometimes ‘gives you a new rigor in your relationship,’ I couldn’t help wondering how many people believed this.
Was this just what the bold and the beautiful jet-setting crowd believed (heck, I should start reading page 3!) or was this what normal middle class people believed?
In a survey conducted by Kamasutra in India, all those interviewed said they believed in “trust and sexual integrity” as being essential in a marriage, BUT at the same time, 35 percent of them admitted to cheating!!
Whether this survey reflects reality in India or not I don’t know…but these findings certainly match with international findings.
So infidelity (both physical and emotional) is the human condition…? And wasn’t Karan Johar simply stating something that most don’t dare to? But he had made a distinction between a physical affair and an emotional one.
Physical affair vs. an emotional affair
I am no expert, and wanted to get to the meaning of this ‘difference’ between ‘physical infidelity’ and ‘emotional fidelity’ because to my mind there is a thin line between the two, if any exists at all. As everyone knows what a physical affair is, let me move on to a definition of an emotional affair. I found it here:
An emotional affair is when a person not only invests more of their emotional energy outside their marriage, but also receives emotional support and companionship from the new relationship…In an emotional affair, a person feels closer to the other party and may experience increasing sexual tension…cheaters are often guilt-free in an emotional affair because there is no sex involved
Emotional affairs are relationships that involve considerable emotional intimacy. Not every affair involves sex. These ARE still affairs.
An emotional affair usually progresses from a platonic friendship, and a platonic friendship can develop into an emotional affair if there is a sexual attraction between the couple. A danger sign is if they start excluding others, and start keeping their meetings secret…
So, a platonic friendship can lead to an emotional affair. And an emotional affair can lead to a physical one.
On the other hand, a physical affair is just that…purely physical. Does that make it less hurtful? Okay to brush under the carpet?
There is a very simple way to find out. Just ask your partner. Chances are that the answer will be no, because if one party in a committed relationship has a physical affair, even if it is a one-night stand, it raises some questions in the mind of the other party:
How many times has this happened before? Am I not physically attractive? Will he or she do it again? Am I really loved? If it happens again, couldn’t it lead to love? How can I ever trust my partner again? Why can’t I do it too?
This is precisely why people want to brush a physical sexual transgression under the carpet! It can damage a relationship irrevocably and set the couple on a path of no return.
In fact, it may well be easier to forgive your partner for having an emotional affair rather than a physical one…the guilty party has shown restraint and held back physical desire inspite of being in love. And there is also more trust as people don’t fall in love too often, not in most cases. No, I am not saying that an emotional affair is not dangerous to a marriage. Its awfully risky because the next step could be a decision to call off the marriage. Something that may not happen in the case of a purely physical affair.
But does that mean that those who have physical affairs should treat it casually and hide such liaisons from their partners? I am sure this happens all the time, but to my mind it tells of a poor relationship between the couple.
If a person who has had a physical affair had to be brutally honest, this is what he would be saying to his partner in an imaginary conversation:
I, me and myself am more important to me than you, and if I don’t tell you about what I have done to satisfy my desires, you will never know how much I love myself, and how much a slave I am to my own needs. My needs are more important than yours, but as you will never understand that, I have decided not to tell you about my affairs, because they aren’t really affairs….I am doing this because I love you and I want our partnership to go on. There are benefits to this alliance, and while I admit that some of these benefits accrue to me too, its you I am thinking of. You don’t want this marriage to break up do you…
Sounds confusing to me…! So while emotional affairs can lead to a total break-down of a marriage, physical affairs if not confessed are a hallmark of an unhealthy and dishonest relationship. But if they are confessed, the relationship may be over forever! Which is better…? Well, it is really an individual decision to make and it depends on the attitude of the one who cheats…whether he intends to cheat again, whether he feels remorse…its impossible to make any sort of judgment on individual situations. But I feel its important for cheating partners to stop fooling themselves that what they are doing is alright or not telling is okay, and its also time they stopped deluding themselves that they have a ‘happy’ marriage.
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