Is there a clear line between opposite-sex friendship and emotional unfaithfulness?

  • Thread starter EnumaElish
  • Start date
  • #1
EnumaElish
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
2,304
124

Main Question or Discussion Point

A few weeks ago I read an msn.com article about emotional unfaithfulness between romantic partners; but the article did not grapple with the really troublesome issues such as the distinction between its subject matter and close friendship between persons of opposite sexes. Then I took a PF survey that had been posted by a postdoc researcher in South(ern?) Wales U. in Australia, which was about how a romantic partner (e.g. a spouse) felt about (or reacted to) a cross-gendered friendship between the other spouse and a 3rd person.

Has anyone thought about or researched this (from a psychological or simply common sense point of view), and is able to suggest answers (or further reading)? The answer does have practical importance for me, as it may for others.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
345
1
Pardon me if im misunderstanding, but you are asking for the 'clear line' as you say, between opposite sex romantic relationships being unfaithful and close opposite sex friendship, yes?

If above is true, then i don't think this is the case. if there wasn't a clear line and therefore was close of being the same as each other, then a woman who has a romantic partner, having another man-friend, could be accused of cheating on her true husband. Obviously this isn't the case (although sometimes, it is a prelude to such case, but that depends on their personality)

Why not take me as an example? I am (or at least, i think) friends with a woman of my same age. Being the same age, i could ask her out and become eventually, romantic partners as you say. But then again, SHE has a boyfriend. This doesn't mean that she is being unfaithful to her real boyfriend. It does mean however, that i do have the POTENTIAL to do make her betray her original boyfriend. However, that is the case for every relationship, and it all depends how much you trust your romantic partner/ the 3rd person.

If this isn't the illustration, then i apologize.
 
  • #3
EnumaElish
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
2,304
124
This is very helpful; thanks.

Romantic relationships can be said to have at least two dimensions (or elements), physical and emotional. Often emotional intimacy leads to physical intimacy; or sometimes the reverse can happen. But each of these elements is worthy and supportive in its own right, even when taken in isolation from the other. Accordingly cheating may involve one or both of these elements. If a third-party relationship that is purely based on sex is the one extreme, then the other extreme must be a third-party relationship that is purely based on emotional closeness.

If this deduction is logically correct, then a relationship with a third person that involves no actual or even potential sex or physical intimacy can still be considered cheating in a purely emotional sense. For example, if someone was sharing his or her deepest thoughts, feelings and fears with a close friend from the opposite sex instead of his or her spouse, then his or her marriage may be suffering from a type of behavior that is no less destructive than physical unfaithfulness just because it is purely emotional.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
Mentor
19,226
5,238
It has been my (admittedly limited) understanding that for women, emotional faithfulness is at least as important as physical faithfulness.
 
  • #5
Evo
Mentor
23,104
2,448
You can be close friends with someone of the opposite sex without thinking of them romantically. Where you cross the line is when you start having feelings for the other person that go beyond just being friends. If you start having romantic or sexual thoughts or fantasies about the other person on a recurring basis, you have crossed the line, it's no longer just a friendship, even if you don't act on it physically. In this instance, your partner would have a right to feel threatened.
 
  • #6
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,490
51
russ_watters said:
It has been my (admittedly limited) understanding that for women, emotional faithfulness is at least as important as physical faithfulness.
Is that not true for men as well? Wouldn't it bother you if your girlfriend were lusting after/fantasizing about some other guy, even if she wasn't being physically intimate with him?

But, I see nothing wrong with having opposite sex friendships, as long as they are no more intimate than your same sex friendships (or vice versa if you're homosexual). I have plenty of friendships with men that are not in any way romantic. As I think about it, I probably have more friendships with men than women...I've never been a very "girly girl" type person, so until I got into science and met more women who were more like me, I just didn't have much in common with other women when I was younger, so hung out more with the guys who shared more interests with me. Our friendships are no threat to their wives and would be no threat to any boyfriend of mine (and if a boyfriend perceived them as a threat, I'd take that as a sign that he's just too jealous of a personality and ditch him anyway since there's nothing to worry about at all).

Emotional unfaithfulness (in my opinion) is when you have more than just a friendship...when you're lusting after the person, want to get physical even if you don't follow through, flirt way too much, or share more intimate information than you would with your romantic partner, find yourself physically attracted to one another, etc. If you're having a hard time keeping your hands off each other, you're probably being emotionally unfaithful.
 
  • #7
356
2
Can a person not be emotionally and physically unfaithfull with either sex? We should not limit our definition so.
 
  • #8
russ_watters
Mentor
19,226
5,238
Moonbear said:
Is that not true for men as well? Wouldn't it bother you if your girlfriend were lusting after/fantasizing about some other guy, even if she wasn't being physically intimate with him?
It's more or less true for me, but you should meet my roommate (or maybe you shouldn't...). For him, there is only one type of intimacy.
 
  • #9
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,490
51
russ_watters said:
It's more or less true for me, but you should meet my roommate (or maybe you shouldn't...). For him, there is only one type of intimacy.
*gazes into crystal ball*
I see many psycho girlfriends and divorces in his future. :tongue2:
 

Related Threads for: Is there a clear line between opposite-sex friendship and emotional unfaithfulness?

  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
2
Replies
31
Views
3K
Replies
20
Views
3K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
60
Views
12K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
2K
Top