“Close calls” begin with an attraction to somebody other than your spouse that cause you to think about your time with this individual simply for the pleasure that it provides you.
Somewhere in this phase, a friendship ceases and a “close call” starts. Now you’re saving topics of conversation for this person. Your conversations progress from merely topics of mutual interest to personal issues. You scheme and plan on how to be together more often, for more time, without raising anyone’s suspicions.
These types of relationships easily become “close calls”. As time goes on, there is mutual admiration and a growing number of shared secrets.
“Richard and I meet in the pantry for coffee at 9am every Monday to talk about our weekend. If I get there first, I pour him coffee in that mug he likes. I make sure to keep plenty of hazelnut cream in the fridge since that’s his favourite.”
“Judy and I always have a lot of business matters to talk about, so we started having lunch at the restaurant across the street so there are no distractions. I SMS her to let her know when I’m ready to leave; that way, we can just slip out without anyone interrupting.”
At this point, many people go into denial about how much the relationship is beginning to mean to them and only after a close and honest evaluation, does a person often recognise how close he or she really came to adultery.
Phase 1: Growing Mutual Attraction
Many times when men and women who have had affairs are telling their story, they begin by saying, “It all started so innocently.” After all, most people who commit adultery are not out looking to do so. That is why most of them are in a state of denial even as the attraction to the other person develops.
Phase 2: Entanglement
This is the infatuation phase and it begins when the future adulterer shares these feelings of attraction with their potential partner. Fantasy creeps in here very quickly too. Those feelings might be behind an intended compliment, such as “If I wasn’t married, I would think of marrying you,” but nevertheless the message to the potential partner is that you are thinking about him or her.
Phase 3: Destabilisation of the Relationship
Most affairs, even one-night stands, have “on-again, off-again” periods when the partners withdraw from each other and try to stop the relationship, even on the single night they might be together. When continued over long periods of time, these emotional attachments can become so intense and consuming that physical health suffers, emotional well-being and work productivity declines, these people can no longer think rationally, and they destroy other lifelong friendships.
Phase 4: Termination and Resolution
Most affairs go through this phase. In an affair, sexual passion creates an artificial sense of closeness. Many couples whose affairs resulted in marriage tend to have a difficult time building and maintaining the trust, respect, and safety that the affair initially appeared to provide.
So, consider these phases and signs and you may just realise that “the call” may be closer than you thought.
This article is contributed by TOUCH Family Services and adapted with permission from “Close Calls – What Adulterers Want You to Know about Protecting your Marriage” by Dave Carder.
Based on his extensive research and interviewing adulterers for over 30 years, Dave Carder, a marriage counsellor and pastor, founded the “Torn Asunder” and “Close Calls” programmes, designed to enable couples to rebuild marriages shattered by infidelity and to learn how to protect their marriages. An author of numerous publications on marriage and family, Dave is also a clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and speaks on a wide variety of audiences internationally on issues of preventing and recovering from adultery. He holds a graduate degree in Marital and Family Therapy as well as the Michigan Limited License in Psychology and the Marriage and Family license in California.