She talks to him every day. He texts her to make sure she got home ok. She calls him her ‘work husband’.  They have nicknames for each other.

Her real husband becomes suspicious when she talks about the work husband in her sleep. “She’s dreaming about this guy now?”

He struggles with the level of intrusion the other man is having in their lives – in their marital bed no less.

He wonders if it would be completely wrong to secretly check her phone. Is he being paranoid? Is she having an affair? Are his own insecurities clouding his judgement?

He can’t control his curiosity. He checks her phone.  There are too many texts from the work husband to be comfortable about their interaction. Cute, flirtatious text messages that edge dangerously close to sexual tension.

However, he finds nothing that reveals a sexual encounter. No evidence of a physical affair.

The real husband is now torn as to what course of action he should take. If he questions his wife’s feelings for the other man, she will know her phone has been searched.

If he says nothing, he must live with the knowledge she looks forward to going to work each day for reasons other than simple job satisfaction.

He is disheartened that he has resorted to snooping through her text messages. His actions make him question the relationship regardless of the evidence - trust, or lack thereof, is now an issue.

He believes his wife is having an emotional affair. He feels he is in competition with the work husband for his wife’s attention, for her time, for her approval.

No bodily fluids have been exchanged but he feels he has endured a form of betrayal. His feelings are hurt. He is jealous of the other man who spends every working day with his wife – in cosy meetings and travelling outside the office.  

Is it fair to classify her relationship with her work colleague as infidelity?

Can a spouse have an emotional affair without harming the relationship?

Most, I assume, would say no – this is a form of sharing that best be confined to the lover’s domain. Sharing time, feelings and every lunch hour with another person can be a bonding experience. It is fraught with danger.

It may also be one step away from crossing the line into a physical affair.

But let me play devil’s advocate ...

I have a lot of male friends. Most of whom I would consider to be more like brothers than potential lovers. OK, so there may be one or two whom I’ve snuck a secondary glance at over the water cooler.

However, I’d like to think my intentions are clear. I have male friends with whom I share very personal information.  I trust them. I don’t feel threatened by any sexual desires.

You can never have too many friends. I have however, learnt the hard way – sometimes the other party’s intentions may not be so innocent.

Twice now male friends have revealed a secret fantasy, an unrequited love I was oblivious to. Completely. Utterly. Oblivious. This is the danger of emotional connections outside of a relationship.

Such revelations can be very disappointing. Their disclosures meant I was now uncomfortable about our interaction. We could no longer be friends – at least not at the same level.

I suppose it comes down to the old chestnut that Harry and Sally struggled with – I live in hope that it is possible for the sexes to be friends (without benefits) – just be sure not to send my partner text messages outside work hours.  Smoke = fire.

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