Q&A: Making friends from the opposite sex


I’m a woman who has been happily married for six years. I have several close “guy buddies” at work, and I know my husband is in a similar setting with some women at his workplace. My male friends get a little flirty with me sometimes, and I’m sure it’s the same for my husband. As long as nothing happens, it’s all harmless, right?

Answer: Maybe you don’t think of infatuation as a mind-altering drug. But counsellor Dave Carder has spent the past 30 years studying the causes of infidelity. He believes infatuation is as powerful as any substance out there.

Carder says most people don’t wake up and decide, “I think I’ll ruin my marriage today.” Affairs usually come about slowly, without people realising they’re drifting into dangerous emotional territory. Infatuation is especially hazardous because it evolves from everyday relationships. Associating with co-workers, neighbours, and family friends is appropriate in the typical sense. But when two people are together day after day, infatuation is a real possibility. It can develop before anyone realises it’s happening.

People consumed by infatuation do crazy things. They behave as if they’re literally under the influence of a mind-altering substance. And to Dave Carder’s point, they are. Infatuated people are drunk with emotion. They don’t make rational decisions or care how their choices impact everyone else.

To protect your marriage, keep on the lookout for danger signs that your emotions are drifting. It may start by saving topics of conversation for somebody other than your spouse because, in your mind, they understand you better. Or you may share intimate details about your marriage with that person. Your feelings have definitely gone too far when you look forward to seeing the other person more than your spouse.

These indicators are often subtle, but they’re important. When your marriage goes through a dry spell – and all relationships do – you can easily become infatuated with someone else. You may lose all sense of reason; then almost nothing will prevent you from having an affair. So to avoid making one of the biggest mistakes of your life, keep an eye on your relationships and your emotions in check.

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