You’ve made a new friend or developed a crush. Yay you! But how do you know when things have tipped over into an emotional affair? You take my quiz, that’s how…
Does your partner think you’re going deaf?
When we’re falling for someone, the serotonin in our brain drops to levels found in people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
That makes us consumed by thoughts of that person, to the extent that we don’t notice anything else — like the partner who’s been talking to us for the past ten minutes.
If your partner has booked you in for an emergency hearing test or complained you’re constantly distracted and “somewhere else”, your feelings might be stronger than you realised.
Do you ignore the person when your partner is around?
Being around this person makes you feel lit up like Blackpool Illuminations, and you’re sure your partner will notice.
So, in situations where you’re all in the same room, you’ll either ignore the person completely or keep your interactions brief and formal.
You might try to throw your partner off the scent by pretending to dislike this person or calling them unattractive.
But later on, you’re bombarding them with texts, apologising for seeming unfriendly.
Have you changed your bedtime routine?
You go to bed early, so you can lie in bed messaging the person. Or you make excuses to stay up late, so you can think about them in peace.
You do anything you can to get some space from your other half — inventing reasons to pop to the shops so you can dash off some texts.
You avoid uninterrupted time with your partner because they’re starting to irritate you simply by just not being the other person.
Something great happens. Do you tell the person before your partner?
Wanting to share good times with someone is a clear sign you’re into them. And it means you want to impress them.
Our natural urge is to show ourselves as high-status to people we find attractive.
You might find yourself downplaying your faults to someone you fancy, or casually dropping into conversation that you’ve just achieved something cool.
Do you pretend your relationship is on the rocks?
Close friends often confide in each other about their relationships. But when you’re on the brink of an emotional affair, you’ll change how you discuss these issues.
You’ll signal your availability by downplaying your relationship (“We’re more like flatmates these days”) and imply you’re on the brink of splitting up.
You’ll also be very interested in the person’s relationship, scrutinising it for weak points. If they complain about an annoying habit of their partner’s, you’ll go to great pains to show that you don’t do that.
“Only five minutes of foreplay? Pfft. I’m more of a 72-hour type myself.”
Do you have mentionitis?
Our brains flood with the happy chemical dopamine every time we think about people we fancy (this gives us the same rush that gamblers get placing a bet), so we think, and therefore talk, about them a lot.
You might not realise how often you name-drop the person, but your partner will. If you’re not sure, check your phone.
Search for the name of the person and see how often you’ve called them, messaged them, Googled them, or just discussed them in texts with others.
Have you recently become the strong, silent type?
Not physically — in fact, you might have a stronger sex drive than ever. But have you found yourself shutting down emotionally from your other half?
When you go out for dinner, do you talk about your plans, worries and dreams, or do you just browse the menu? Have you also stopped asking your partner how they feel because, to be honest, you don’t really care?
Now compare this to how you talk to the person. Do you open up to them because they just get you? Uh-oh.
Do you compare the other person to your partner?
And they always seem sexier, brighter, more fascinating than your other half? This is a sign that you’re falling in love, but also that you might have a fear of commitment.
Think back through your dating life: do you often chase the “perfect person”, then lose interest when you know they’re keen?
Do you flit from crush to crush, or keep partners at arm’s length by obsessing about other people on the side? You might just have a fear of getting hurt so you spread the risk.
Have you messed up your Netflix suggestions?
Perhaps because you’re always watching things the person has mentioned, even though their tastes are wildly different to yours.
Whatever the person is into, you’re suddenly into. Everything about them seems novel and more interesting, from their taste in music to their bizarre love for true crime documentaries.
When your partner suggested watching these same shows six months ago, you weren’t interested. Now, you can’t get enough of them.
Do you fantasise romantically about the other person?
If only you’d met them first. If only your partner would dump you or fall for someone else. If only you could elope together and live forever in red-hot ecstasy…
When your thoughts play out like a remake of Sliding Doors, you’re in the throes of an emotional affair. Remember, friends don’t obsess about each other or want to rewrite their life.
OOPS! You let your feelings stray from platonic to bionic. It’s an emotional affair and you have a tough choice to make.
If you genuinely like the person and see a future together, you need to be honest with your partner, not string them along.
But if you realise it’s just a crush, pull right back, and then put all that time and energy into making your own relationship as strong as it can be.
Send your partner texts. Tell them your dreams. Recreate your early dates and remember why you fell for them.
PHEW! You’re not in too deep. Instead, you’ve just found a new bestie.
But don’t get complacent – giving someone else too much of your attention could push your real partner away or make your feelings spiral out of control.
Set yourself boundaries like not texting outside work hours or start bringing your partner along to your meet-ups.
Stop Google-stalking them, and deliberately change your thoughts every time they pop into your head.
After a while (not long), you’ll naturally cool off.
This feature originally appeared in The Sun.