Sunday, September 20, 2015

An Emotional Affair

Emotional intimacy is the most powerful bond in human relationships…..much stronger than sexual. A new type of infidelity has increased over the last decade and is one of the biggest threats to marriage….emotional affairs. You can have an affair without having sex. Sometimes the greatest betrayal happens without touching. Infidelity is considered to be any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust with your mate.
Sliding across boundaries
Affairs can happen in good marriages. They are less about love and more about sliding across professional boundaries into the personal area of your life. Today’s workplace has become the new danger zone of opportunities for emotional affairs which has only been surpassed by the internet. As these circumstances for intimate relationships increase, the boundaries between platonic and romantic feelings blur and become easier to cross.
When you discuss what your marriage lacks to a colleague of the opposite sex you are sending a loud message that you’re available for someone else to love and care for your needs. This behavior is also a breach of the trust that you share in your relationship. Discussing intimate concerns outside the marriage will create a false sense of intimacy that states your happiness is valued by this person.
Comparing another person against your partner will also create a dangerous negative thinking pattern. This can make you begin to daydream about this individual who seems to understand you. You will find yourself looking forward to seeing them, sharing personal news and imagining their excitement when you are together. This euphoric feeling will release dopamine in the reward centers of your brain which will also reinforce the illusion that this person relates to you like nobody else.
Not “just friends”
Individuals involved in an emotional affair will let their negative thinking patterns blame the mate for their unhappiness. A sense of entitlement evolves and resentment will build and push you from your spouse. As a result you will begin to pull away and make excuses to avoid joining activities with your partner.
Secrecy can then become another warning sign as it creates an unhealthy bond that gives a false sense of emotional safety. If your partner tries to interfere with the “friendship”, anger is directed at the invasion and your mood becomes more irritable or unhappy.
There will come a time in the alliance when one or both parties will fantasize about having a loving sexual relationship with each other. This discussion will add intensity to the desire. Not heeding the warning signs and finding time to spend alone together will push the bond from platonic to sexual. Healing your marriage after an affair is a very difficult process. It is best to be aware of the warning signs and understand that a friendship with the opposite gender can evolve to more.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Personality and Attraction

Psychologists define personality as a “collection of emotional, thought and behavioral patterns unique to a person that is consistent over time.” People tend to like others who seem similar to their own characteristics of attitude, belief, personality and attractiveness. Individuals who share similar attitudes will have less conflict in their relationships and more opportunity to validate their own opinions. Compatibility is valued in a relationship especially when we feel threatened or insecure. Knowing your personality type can help you to improve communication and interpersonal relationships. Understanding your personality strengths and weaknesses can also guide you to a career that will suit you better professionally or to a more compatible partner.
Personality types
There are several assessment tools utilized to identify different personality types. An Enneagram is a diagnostic tool to determine an individual’s emotional outlook on life.  It can also enlighten you on how other people see the world differently. The Enneagram theory believes people do not change from one personality type to another. Your personality doesn’t change after early childhood but change will occur as you understand your inner strengths and weaknesses that you’ve always had. The test identifies 9 personality types: reformer, helper, achiever, individual, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger and peacemaker.
Myers-Briggs is another personality inventory based on Carl Jung’s theory (1920’s) of psychological types. The test was developed by Isabel Briggs Meyers (1940’s) and states there are 16 different personality combinations. An individual is either extraverted or introverted, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. There are no superior personality types.
A less scientific approach is the Ice Cream Theory by author Steff Deschenes who compares people preferences to ice cream flavors. She states that personality preferences can change with age, experiences and mood. She believes that we explore the exotic flavors when feeling adventurous to more comforting flavors when seeking solace. Some flavors like personalities are acquired tastes and others will always be our childhood favorite.
The studies are unsure of the role of personality when choosing a partner but all agree that it is a natural selection that ensures successful reproduction. A person is usually attracted to someone in their own socio-economic group, same level of intelligence and physical appearance. Sometimes you will fall in love with someone who will never return that emotion due to their own mindset and chemistry. Overtime relationships will move from physical attraction to the deeper emotional intimacy of commitment and trust.
The more you know about your partner and work to understand their behaviors the stronger your relationship will become. It’s recommended that a couple date a minimum of one year before they consider marriage. Pre-marital counseling can be an impartial way to assess a couple’s compatibility by discussing individual values, philosophy of child rearing, enjoyment of leisure activities and expectations of sharing a life. It is also important to discuss how the couple resolve’s conflict and manages their differences. Relationship skills can always be improved and that can help any two personalities discover how to get along better.