I’d like to introduce you to Jane. Jane is married to Jack. They’ve been happily married for 15 years. They have two children, two cars, the proverbial white picket fence.

One day, Jane meets a man at the office. He’s young, smooth, and extremely handsome. He asks for her help on a project. Naturally, Jane is eager. Not necessarily because she’s attracted to him (she is) but because she likes helping people. Soon one interaction, turns into two, which turns into three, and pretty soon, Jane finds herself anticipating when she’ll see him again. Jane has officially developed a secret crush.

Jane isn’t real. Except that she is. There are thousands of Janes out there…maybe you’re one of them. “It doesn’t hurt,” you think. “It’s not like I would ever act upon it.” Maybe so. But is Jane on a slippery slope to self-destruction? Let’s take a closer look…

5 Warning Signs You’re in Dangerous Territory

  • Justifications – You find yourself justifying your actions. “But everyone is entitled to a fantasy.” True. Attraction to others doesn’t die the minute you get married. But the minute you find yourself focusing more on the fantasy than the reality, it’s time to bail. Besides, it’s alarming how quickly things can escalate from a simple fantasy to irreparable damage to your family.  Hello “Unfaithful” with Diane Lane!
  • If the tables were turned – Ask yourself, “if I found out my husband was doing the same thing I was, how would I feel?” If the answer is jealous, hurt, or angry…you’re in too deep. Before you indulge your secret crush, think for a second about how it would feel if you found out your husband was anticipating his next meeting with that cute colleague in the next cubicle. Would you feel comfortable knowing they were out for a drink? Knowing they were texting each other after work? Flirting on Facebook? No? Then don’t do the same.
  • Disclosure Overload – You find yourself starting to talk to your crush about your marital problems. The danger: it creates a false air of intimacy. You may think you’re relating and being friendly, but it’s a surefire way to signal “I’m vulnerable (read: available).” Isn’t it true that when a colleague says “I’m so in love with my husband/wife” you automatically feel that person is off-limits?  Likewise, the minute you start talking about problems at home, that signals an open door to your crush.  Experts say most affairs start at the office, and it’s no wonder. At work, you’ve got your best face forward— you’re seen as competent, pretty, put-together..the opposite of what you may feel when you’re at home—tired and unkempt..keeping up with endless chores, kids, pets, a spouse.
  • “Go-to” Status – Something good happens to you during your day, and the first person you want to tell is your crush, not your husband. It can be something simple— “I found a dollar,” or something monumental—“I got a promotion!” If you start thinking about that person more than you think of your significant other, it’s time to take a step back.
  • Denial denial! – You’re in denial. You think it’s “never” going to happen to you. According to therapists, the second most common slip-up happens where you’d least expect it. Common culprits? Your husband’s best friend, or your best friend’s husband! Why? Your guard is down. You’re comfortable being yourself. So are they. There is open access to that person, and you’re probably spending tons of time together.  These affairs are the most insidious, because the betrayal is two-fold. Be careful.

If you find yourself in constant la-la land with Mr. McDreamy, it’s time to take a critical look at yourself. Just what exactly is this all about?  What is the void in your own relationship you think this person can fill? And what’s stopping you from talking about it with your own husband/wife?

Bottom line, we’re all human. Sometimes we feel connections with other people, and sometimes those connections are undeniable. It’s simple really. If you are married, and you feel a strong attraction to another person, use discernment. Don’t put yourself in situations that could lead to more. For instance, Rachel and her husband have a rule. If they feel a little crushy towards someone, they tell each other what’s going on. By being honest about it with one another, they remove the “secret” and often times, any steam behind the attraction. Discernment.

You may think “this will never happen to me.” Until it does. Be smart. Don’t let it.

Thanks to Caroline Madden MFT (counselingwithcaroline.com) and Jeannette York MFT (yorkMFT@yahoo.com) for their help on this article.