Home » Relationships

Dangerous Liaisons

Sandra Prior
Sep 10, 2008
According to a slew of magazine articles, infidelity, which used to be understood by all, has become fuzzy around the edges. 'Emotional infidelity' is a hot topic, as if it's only just occurred to some people that because men and women are mixing more freely, hanky panky is being had without sex, and that's just as threatening to marriages as the physical act.

While muslims, for example, refuse even to shake the hand of the alien gender lest lust overtake them, the rest of us have been pretty lax, allowing feelings to flow regardless of lines of marital demarcation so the experts tell us. Indeed, many people don't simply let them flow but whip them into a frenzy, courtesy of the Internet, which adds a whole new range of possibilities for e-jargon such as e-cheat, e-cuckold and often 'e's run off with a woman he met on the web.

The New Anatomy of Infidelity

Although statistics vary with every article, it's generally agreed that affairs are soaring. It may seem we're adrift without a moral compass, but in reality the ideal of one man, one woman together for life has never been universally practiced. Men have considered it natural to have girlfriends and concubines, as the long list of royal mistresses bears witness. In African society, it's often considered normal, even image-building, to have several wives.

In some cultures, a woman may have several husbands. Surveys suggest that in the West, women are evening out the playing fields, or perhaps being more open about their friendship with other men. Women, with their longing for relationships, are more likely to be emotionally involved, while men are more inclined to be physically involved. The problem is that some friendships blossom insidiously into love and possessiveness before you know it.

That easily leads to the thought 'It doesn't work for me to be in my partnership/marriage any more'. However accepting of this position we are as a society, as individuals it runs amok with our family, friendships and emotional and financial security. An affair then, with or without sex, generally has huge ramifications and is deeply threatening to the other partner. So surely no one would risk it without good reason? The fact is we do, in our millions.

Why People Take the Risk

One interpretation is that humanity is uneasy with marriage as it stands, feeling subconsciously that for two people to supply all each other's mental, emotional, spiritual and physical needs, is putting too much burden on one relationship. It may have worked when we lived in extended families, within close-knit communities; that gave us many more people to love and lean on as presumably is natural. Perhaps we are in a transitional phase and will one day look back on the nuclear family in its isolated box as an impossible experiment. We will learn to look after each other better, without pointing fingers.

Several societal changes make building strong bonds outside your marriage today both easier and more tempting. One is that emotional needs are often fulfilled more by co-workers who understand us than at home where chores, children and worries can take up the time we need to make regular emotional deposits into the marriage.

The crisis is that men and women are working with people that they respect, people that they have intellectual interests with, people that they share excitement over projects, frustration over deadlines. And so the relationship begins as a platonic friendship that's very deep and rich. And over time they begin to share more and more of their personal lives together.
About the Author
Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.
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