Are you having 'emotional sex'?

Sometimes the lines between chatting and emotionally cheating get blurred. Melissa D'costa helps you define them

When Elvis Presley sang Are you lonesome tonight?, he echoed the feelings of many couples who feel like their relationships has lost meaning along the way, leading them to find emotional support outside their marriage or relationship. It's this treacherous gamut of emotions that makes you blind, and you fail to see when a casual friendship leads to emotional sex.

Defining emotional sex?
Dr Parul Tank, consultant psychiatrist, says, "Emotional sex is a friendship that gives you a similar high as romantic love. It usually happens while chatting online or when you have close friendships with the opposite sex, which may or may not lead to any physical intimacy." A platonic relationship can lead to emotional sex when we become emotionally dependent on the person, and feel-good brain hormones are released similar to when one thinks about the person we love." However, before you let your emotions take over, and throw caution to the wind, it's important to delve further and find out whether these
feelings are real or are just a passing phase.

Is your friendship no longer platonic?
It is easy to get confused when you share a good friendship with someone of the opposite sex. However, the difference between a platonic friendship and one that has entered the danger zone of emotional sex is that there is no attraction or sexual chemistry involved in the former. On the other hand, if you are having emotional sex, you will end up sharing intimate details of your life, that only your partner should be privy too. Flirty text messages and romantic fantasies involving your 'so-called friend' are other warning signs to look out for.

Emotional affair or cheating?
Tank shares two case studies with us to explain the impact of emotional sex on relationships. In the first case Rahul Seth, who was happily married, felt isolated since his wife was very busy with their new born babies (they had twins). He started chatting online with a woman and before he knew it, he was sharing his innermost thoughts andfeelings with her.

Very soon, this led to emotional closeness and they were flirting via texts and chat messages. Rahul started realising that he was getting extremely attached to her, and finding faults with his wife. He came for counselling because his 'chat' friend wanted tomeet up and he was confused.

Counselling and therapy made him realise that his relationship with his wife was strained.
In the second case, Reema Mohite, who worked in the financial sector and was engaged for a year was grappling with her own issues. Her fiance got transferred to Chennai and she could not cope with the long-distance relationship. She was often arguing with her fiance

about petty issues. She got friendly with a colleague at work and they become friends on a networking site. Very soon they were going for coffee breaks together, and were on chat the whole day, sending flirty texts. When her fiance found out (he had her password and saw her messages), the engagement was called off. The colleague in office is married and has dumped her since he thinks this will jeopardise his relationship with his wife. Reema was depressed and contemplating suicide when she decided to opt for counselling.

Tank emphasises that technology has only made it more convenient for people to cheat at the touch of a button. And while some people think infidelity occurs because it is planned, at times people find themselves in situations where their emotions completely overwhelm
them. While people trapped in troubled marriages are more vulnerable to infidelity, even people in solid relationships can be lured because of the temptation that an emotional affair can pose, and the thrill you can get out of it, even if it's for a short time.

Why chatting becomes cheating?
Clinical Psychologist, Seema Hingorrany, believes that people end up having emotional sex because they feel rejected and neglected in their marriages or committed relationships. She says, "The probability of one of the partners having emotional sex with someone else

increases when physical intimacy between their partner has dwindled over the years. Also, spending long hours at work and away from home, can act as a trigger point, when the spouse or partner involved begins sharing more of their time and life with someone else. The attention they get from this partner adds that spice and spark in their life, which was missing all this while.

I have known patients who suddenly want to look their best, take to gymming and start grooming themselves just to make a good impression. Also, when a spouse has a mental or a physical problem which he/she is unable to address, their partner may get attracted to someone else."

How to cope with it?
Tank says, "It is best to introspect and realise that one is getting into an emotional vortex, which can be detrimental to all involved. Ideally counselling helps since it gets the person to realise what is wrong in their original relationship and they can take corrective measures to fix things."
Melissa D'costa

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