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Unfaithfully Yours
January 19, 2013 COMMENT comment
     
UNFAITHFULLY YOURS
By Juhi Baveja
 
 
Priyanka, 29, married to Madhur, 30, for five years, was extremely busy and stressed out because of an important work project. The two got very little time to spend with each other. As stress began to take its toll, Priyanka found solace in the pleasant company of Rishi, 35, her co-worker. The long hours, late nights and stressful environment at work were bearable because of him. They would take coffee breaks together while working late and even go out for a late dinner in the wee hours after work. The project got over but the conversations continued. Both found themselves craving for each other’s company. Hell broke loose when Madhur came to know and accused Priyanka of infidelity. There was no sex or any form of physical intimacy between her and Rishi, she argued and therefore it did not constitute disloyalty.
 

Or did it? When you allow someone from the opposite sex to fulfil your emotional needs that would otherwise be met by your partner, does it imply that you have mentally switched off from your existing relationship? Adultery or not – the arguments are aplenty.

It can all start innocently enough, with most people having friends of the opposite sex – be it childhood friends, colleagues, family friends, or online acquaintances. Long office hours entail spending more time with a coworker than with one's family, and the pressure of balancing both can often lead to shared workplace intimacies. Besides, given the extent and reach of social media in our lives, keeping in constant touch with old friends and exes can be an open portal to trouble as when things get tough in real life, most people tend to find escapism through their online lives.

The recent case of the American CIA director David Petraeus having an affair with his biographer exemplifies the effect of close personal proximity to the opposite sex even if for professional purposes. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart received a lot of flak and found her relationship with boyfriend Robert Pattinson on shaky grounds when she confessed having a fling with her Snow White director, even though the affair did not culminate in sex.

Experts say that a strained marriage is the reason a partner becomes more vulnerable to anyone else who comforts them at any level. "I am currently seeing a case where the wife had an emotional relationship outside marriage. Her husband got very upset and they are having frequent fights," says Vandana Tara, clinical psychologist. "In this case, the reason behind the infidelity was physical abuse and lack of understanding from the husband – issues which were a breeding ground for discontent," she elaborates. However, in certain cases, people in strong relationships too can be lured into the big emotinal trap. They can still love their spouses, but refuse to confront the real issues; instead they look outside their marriages to fill the gaps and continue to live in denial.

It is difficult to fix a marriage burdened with infidelity. In order to create healthy and lasting relationships, one must recognise the lurking warning signs. A number of studies have found that both men and women react differently to physical and emotional cheating. While men react more strongly to physical cheating, women view emotional cheating more firmly. So how does one protect a relationship proactively? The answer is always communication and setting your priorities. A proper understanding of the physical and emotional needs of a partner is also a must. "It is absolutely essential for couples to continuously work on their marriage and have good communication so that they have a healthy relationship," advises Tara.

There is no cardinal rule that applies to every couple; every relationship is different, and power dynamics vary. Whether an affair is of a sexual nature or not, such close relationships are bound to sow the seeds of insecurity and discontent that can scar the people involved.

DO

Take time out every day just for your partner.
Draw boundaries in friendships with the opposite sex.
Use differences to grow as a couple.
Express your concerns in a non-threatening way.
DON'T

Don't avoid communicating with your partner.
Don't believe that all flirtation is harmless.
Don't find replacement relationships.
Don't blame before analysing your own role.

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