Beth met Matt at their church singles group and immediately hit it off. They started hanging out in groups at first, but got along so well that they started doing everything together. They became best friends, sharing all their struggles, their joys, their secrets with each other. Beth couldn’t imagine life without Matt but if anyone asked if they were dating both would respond with a quick “Oh, we’re just friends.”
But their friendship eventually ended and Beth was left feeling empty and devastated. It was like they had broken up but that couldn’t be the case because they were only friends. Then why were her emotions completely shattered? Why did she feel so alone after losing “just a friend?”
Dawn had worked with Todd for the last five years. Day in and day out they worked side by side and she even looked forward to her workdays because of Todd. She always had a joke to share with Todd, advice to ask for, and she genuinely enjoyed spending her days working with him. Their other coworkers even joked that Dawn and Todd might as well be Facebook official with as much as they acted like a couple.
But Todd ended up getting transferred to another city, leaving Dawn behind every weekday from 9-5. Dawn began to dread going to work and even tried to get transferred to Todd’s new branch. Her week just wasn’t the same anymore without him.
Why were both Beth and Dawn’s lives so changed by a friend? Why couldn’t they live without these men in their lives? Both Beth and Dawn began a friendship innocently, but ended up committing an affair. No, it wasn’t like the ones we hear politicians getting caught for or ones that we see on Real Housewives. It wasn’t a physical or sexual affair but it was just as dangerous….it was an affair of the heart.
But if sex isn’t involved, then is it really wrong? What’s so bad about two people having a close friendship?
- Your Heart Shouldn’t Belong To Your Guy Friend
Your heart should be preserved for God because who you are and what you do all flows from your heart. (1 Kgs. 8:61; Prov. 4:23) When Israel strayed from the Lord it was because they gave their hearts to other gods and began to follow in the detestable ways of those other gods. (1 Kgs. 8:58;15:3) They didn’t keep their hearts for the Lord and ended up committing idolatry with their emotions and then their actions. Even with friendships you have to be careful about keeping your heart preserved for the Lord so you don’t commit emotional adultery. Even guys can make your heart stray from the Lord. (1 Kgs. 11:4) Have you kept yours guarded from your guy friends or is he what’s flowing from you? Is he what your life is becoming?
If he’s just a friend then your heart should treat him as a friend. Do you give your girl friends your heart, your emotions, your affection? Do you think about friends all day long, get a little flutter at the thought of seeing them, or can’t stand the thought of going a day without hanging out? Affairs don’t always involve sex but they do involve long text, chat, email, or phone conversations, spending significant alone time together, and confiding in each other more than anyone else.
If you’re spending so much time with this guy and you both enjoy each other immensely then why aren’t you dating? Gabrielle wrote a great article on being friends with guys discussing when it’s time to examine if a friendship should continue or become more. If your guy friend is dominating your time, your thoughts, or your feelings it might be time to start reconsidering who owns your heart right now.
2. Emotional Affairs Can Lead To Physical Affairs
Too many times we equate impure relationships with sex but it doesn’t always have to involve that. Emotional intimacy outside of a committed relationship cannot be rationalized as not harmful just because it doesn’t involve sexual immorality. Emotional intimacy is still intimacy and intimacy leads to further intimacy, emotional or physical.
If a woman has bonded her heart with a man then she’s more likely to bond with him physically. Shannon Ethridge, author of the Every Woman’s Battle, states,
“The idea that it’s totally innocent is deceiving,” she says. “Wherever a woman’s heart goes, her body will long to follow. Eventually she is going to want to be physical with him; that’s how we humans are made. The more attached she becomes emotionally, the more overwhelming the urge to express that attachment sexually.”
If a woman’s emotional guards are down then next to come down will be the physical guards. Emotional boundaries have to be put up with your guy friends to help ensure that physical boundaries will stay in place, as well. Christ commands us to flee from anything that might tempt us sexually. So to prevent physical impurity then you have to flee from emotional impurity. (1 Cor. 6:12-18; Col. 3:5) To act wise physically, then you have to first act wise emotionally.
3. You’re Being Emotionally Promiscuous
Holiness isn’t just a matter of remaining mental or physically pure, it’s also about remaining emotionally pure. If you’re supposed to have a pure mind and a pure body, then wouldn’t you also need to have a pure heart?
We’re supposed to love God with all our minds, bodies, and souls which means that we keep everything single part of us holy so we can worship a holy God. (Mk. 12:30; Lk.10:27) If we’re having affairs of the heart then we’re letting Satan into a part of us that worships God and ends up inhibiting our worship to Him!
There’s a reason why God wants you to keep physically and emotionally pure: it’s not only improper for His people, it’s also for your own protection. When you become physically unrestricted then there are consequences and hurts that go along with it. The same goes for being emotionally promiscuous. You open the door for sin to come in and it will only end up hurting you more and damaging the Gospel. (Eph. 5:3)
Ok, so emotional affairs are bad but how can you prevent them?
1. Capture and Replace Thoughts
If you find your thoughts drifting to what your guy friend would think of something, what you would do if he was there, or even if you begin to start thinking about his twinkling blue eyes then it’s time to make a mental arrest. Those thoughts should be captured as quickly as possible because the more thoughts you give to your guy friend, the more emotions you will too.
2. Your Soul is Off Limits
When you start to bear your souls to each other then you’re letting him into your heart. Avoid sharing sharing your inner most feelings, thoughts, and dreams with each other. Avoid sharing what hurts your heart and what touches you the most in life. If it touches you deeply, then save it for the Lord, your family, your close girl friends, or your spouse.
3. Significant Time Alone Is A No-Entry Zone
It’s only natural for people who spend alone time together to begin to get emotionally closer. Your conversations will grow deeper, along with your attachment to each other. This is called dating and needs the accountability of a dating relationship. Your girls should know if your conversations are going too deep or if you are getting too close physically. Time alone together only opens the doors for emotional affairs of the heart, so it’s best to make it a “no-entry” zone with your guy friends.
4. Can’t Touch This!
Physical touch should be avoided at all times. (Rom.13:13; 1Cor. 6:18; Gal. 5:19) That doesn’t mean side hugs with your guy friends, high-fives, or accidentally bumping into each other will send you down the path to debauchery. However, if you find yourselves getting closer on the couch when you watch movies, your hands tend to linger after that high-five, or you both regularly find small ways to make contact then you might want to re-examine your heart and readjust your actions.
Emotional affairs are common and it’s easy to find yourself in one. Believe me, I understand. But you don’t have to stay in one; you can find freedom in giving your heart back to Christ and return to having friendships that honor Him. If you’ve been having an affair of the heart, be honest with one of your wise, godly girlfriends. She can help you get out of it and help hold you accountable in the future. Confess the adultery of the heart to the Lord who is faithful and quick to forgive. (1 Jn. 1:9) There’s hope and protection for your heart in future when you let the peace of God rule it! (Phil. 4:7)