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My girlfriend found text messages between myself and a good friend at work that were very flirtatious, but nothing has ever happened between us. Now my girlfriend is accusing me of cheating. How do I explain that I wasn’t cheating and that it was just innocent flirtation?
Dear Faithful Boyfriend,
I’m going to be pretty blunt here… you are anything but faithful. And that is why your girlfriend is upset and has accused you of cheating. Firstly, you said that your girlfriend “found” these messages. So I will assume that these were exchanges you didn’t show her. Likely exchanges that you didn’t want her seeing. Why? Because whether or not you are ready to admit it, you know they are wrong and inappropriate. Flirtation doesn’t just happen. It is a choice and an interaction that happens between two people that are sexually attracted to one another. Therefore, if you are in a committed relationship, and are flirting with someone else, it is anything other than innocent.
The biggest mistake you are making is in thinking that cheating is limited to the physical. Far from it. Assuming you are being honest and nothing physical has happened between you and your co-worker, by no means does that mean that you still haven’t been cheating. You just haven’t been physically cheating. But emotionally cheating? Of that, my friend, you are guilty.
There are many synonyms for what is going on between you and your co-worker: emotional cheating, emotional infidelity, affair of the heart, etc. And all of these are situations where nothing physical has happened between two people, but something emotionally definitely has. If this woman is a co-worker, I will assume that this is someone that you spend a significant amount of time with. If she knows you have a girlfriend, and is engaging in flirtatious text messages, it shows that she has no respect for your girlfriend or for your relationship. And why should she? Being that you are engaging and definitely know you have a girlfriend, you are making it clear that you don’t respect your girlfriend or your relationship either. Are you starting to get why your girlfriend is so upset with you?
In many ways, emotional cheating can be more damaging to a relationship than physical cheating. The reason is that foundational to a healthy relationship is trust and open communication. If meaningless physical infidelity took place such as a one-night stand, and the person truly felt it meant nothing and is still very committed to making their relationship work, the partner can very definitively know if that infidelity is continuing. If he or she is with that partner, therefore he or she is not with someone else and is not cheating. But if your girlfriend has to wonder who you are thinking about, who you want to be with, who you have feelings for… then even when you are right there, she can’t trust you. She can’t trust what you are thinking and feeling, and she can’t trust what you are saying. As you have been saying one thing to her, and behind her back, saying something very differently to this co-worker. And… to make matters worse, she knows you then return to work where you will be spending time with someone you are clearly attracted to…
So, if you are really interested in saving your relationship with your girlfriend, and she is willing to make things work as well, first and foremost take responsibility and accountability for what you have done and the pain it has caused her. Then speak openly and honestly with your girlfriend to begin rebuilding the trust that has been shattered. And needless to say, it is time to end this flirtation with your co-worker. You cannot continue to be “friends” with someone that is such a threat to your relationship.
Good luck with your situation and hopefully going forward you will now understand how powerful our thoughts and feelings are, not just our actions.
Sara Esther Crispe
November 19, 2018
June 26, 2018