affair-2-300x216Last week we discussed the emotional affair and what boundaries to maintain in order to prevent one from happening. This week we are going to discuss the more infamous type of affair – the physical affair.

This type of affair can completely destroy trust and even tear apart marriage. It consists of any type of sexual behaviour such as kissing, foreplay, intercourse and I would also include phone sex, “sexting” (explicit text messages and pictures) and sexual emails. It is not feasible to go through the list of the boundaries that are acceptable and unacceptable but here are a few principles to follow:

Be aware of how affectionate you are with others
I am someone who tends to be affectionate and outgoing. I enjoy giving hugs, having conversations with people about their lives and overall just really enjoy spending time with people. This is all appropriate behvaiour but it has to be within boundaries.

Because of my personality, people often think that I am romantically interested in them when I am genuinely just befriending them. Affection (even if innocent) can begin to stir up feelings and emotions in the people you are interacting with, and even in yourself. Affection such as hugs, play fighting, touching of the arm or shoulder, putting your arm around someone etc. are affections that are to be shared with people that you are close with.

Am I saying that you cannot hug your friends? No! But don’t go out of your way to be affectionate with one person more then the rest of your group of friends. You hug people when you say hello and when you say good-bye—be conscious who you are showing affection to and how they may perceive it.

Don’t go out of your way
We all remember what it was like to have a crush on someone in high school. We would try to sit by their desk or walk down the hall where their locker was in an attempt to strike up conversation or even catch a glimpse.

The reality is that we still do this as adults; we take different routes at work to bump into someone and we come up with excuses to send a text message or make a phone call. This can be risky behaviour if you are in a relationship, because you have made a commitment! You shouldn’t be on the prowl to catch a glimpse or strike up a conversation.

Things to avoid are going for coffee one on one, driving coworkers or females friends to or from work or other activities, going for dinner/lunch one on one, etc. There are some exceptions to this rule such as with a mutual friend of the couple or if the coffee/dinner is for business.

These boundaries look slightly different for each couple but as a general rule I would suggest that you do not deviated from your general routine to get the attention of someone of the opposite sex.

Don’t play with fire

It’s not beneficial to have sexual conversations with a person or discuss your mutual attraction to each other when you are in a relationship. Having this discussion stirs up desires that should not be acted upon, but the more you stir them up the more likely you are to see them through. Just avoid the fire so that neither you nor your spouse gets burned.

Don’t behave out of spite or resentment
Resentment is like poison in a relationship. It is caused by letting offences and hurts snowball, and instead of addressing them with your spouse you try to get even.

You begin to do things out of spite, starting with little things like not taking out the garbage or leaving the dishes for the other to do. This little game can easily escalate to interacting with members of the opposite sex to get the reaction that you are looking for. This behaviour is futile and only destroys trust and intimacy in your relationship.

Be cautious of your relationships in the workplace
This principle is somewhat broad-spectrum but affairs happen most often with a coworker. This is because we spend forty hours of our week at work and interact with a large group of people that we may not encounter otherwise. Be careful not to form unhealthy attachments or build close friendships with members of the opposite sex at work.

Emotional affairs can quickly develop and lead to full blown physical affairs. Physical affairs destroy trust, divide marriages and can even destroy families. I would encourage you to examine your friendships and relationships to determine whether there are any unhealthy attachments that are at risk of developing into an emotional or physical affair. Do whatever it takes to cut ties with that person and put your partner as your first priority.

This article was originally written for and posted on Liveabundantly.ca