Don't play with fire—here's how to keep romantic feelings from developing.
No, it’s not an episode of a soap opera: it’s real life, and it happens more than you might think … A husband is unfaithful with one of his wife’s female friends, or vice versa.
Friend, you say?
Yes, that’s what I said, with a friend. As they say, with friends like these, who needs enemies?
I have been counseling couples for many years, and I never get used to this kind of news. As a woman, it fills me with anger and indignation. Above all, it bothers me that women betray each other like that. Worse still is the fact that this disloyalty comes from a supposed friend.
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Infidelity is always painful. But when it happens with someone you often confide in, someone you opened the doors of your house and your heart to, only to get stabbed in the back, it is that much more painful. It’s just not right.
But when was that line crossed? Oftentimes, it’s hard to say, but when you have friendships — where you do everything together as couples like going on trips, etc. — there are basic rules of prudence and respect that should never be broken. Here are a few of them:
– Avoid jokes or conversations with sexual content. Friends — specifically couples who are friends with other couples — who talk about that kind of thing are more likely to fall into infidelity among themselves, because raising those topics opens the door to doing more.
– When you go together to parties or events where there is dancing, you have no reason to be dancing with someone else’s spouse — much less if the music is romantic or sensual. This is simple prudence and common sense.
– If you go through a marital or emotional crisis, don’t meet in private with your friend’s spouse to find consolation. If what you are looking for is advice, then ask for it, but as a couple.
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– Be mindful of how you dress and your non-verbal language. When you go to get-togethers with your group of friends, you don’t need to awaken the desires or the passions of anyone but your spouse. If your self-esteem is low, admit it to yourself and talk to your spouse about it or seek help from a professional.
– Avoid meeting each other alone. There is no need for you to meet your friend’s spouse alone for a coffee, just to chat innocently. It can foster intimacy and exclusivity, which can lead to infidelity.
– Avoid one-on-one conversations and touching each other. That is to say, just say “no” to subtly disguised but insinuating kisses and caresses full of hidden messages. If you want to show how affectionate you are, do it with your spouse, who surely would appreciate it.
– If, while with your group of friends, you realize that you have started to feel an attraction or special weakness for someone besides your spouse, do something about it right away. This is a sign that something in your personal life and/or your marriage needs attention. Be honest and talk about it with your spouse so you can both deal with it maturely. It’s better to deal with it immediately than to suffer the consequences later. If there are problems or pain in your marriage, seek help.
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Whether you are a man or a woman, if what you need is to feel the adrenalin that you get from something extreme like infidelity, don’t get it by jumping into bed with someone else’s spouse. Go bungee jumping or parachuting; but never go after someone else’s husband or wife. You never have the right to satisfy your needs with someone else’s spouse, much less with that of a friend’s spouse.
As married people, we are no longer our own: that is to say, all our desires, thoughts, looks, words, deeds, and body belong to our spouse — one person, forever.
No one is exempt from experiencing this. No one can say, “That will never happen to me,” because life is a long road, and we all get needy. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to be sorry later. We need to be attentive and not open the door to anything that could sully our dignity as people and as children of God.
This article was originally published in the Spanish Edition of Aleteia. It was translated and adapted for Aleteia’s English edition.