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Dealing with Extramarital Attractions (Part 3) – DANGER!

Now I haven’t been in this debilitating place of marital danger since we were first married, but I’d be a fool to say it could ‘never happen to us,’ so I choose to detail it here in case it’s helpful to you, and to help me process.

Here are my personal danger signs:
  • when I actually feel that the guy I’m attracted to is attracted to me too
  • making regular, random connections with this person that would be fun elements of a developing crush if you are both single, but really scary when you are married, like discovering that you like the same obscure song or quote several times
  • he gives me personal attention that exceeds what David is giving me
  • he listens to me about an area of my life that I have intentionally chosen not to bother David with due to the burden
  • very emotionally responsive to people in general

My Story

I remember several months into our dating relationship, we were still long distance and I had only visited him and his friends in their city a couple of times.  This was still early enough where David wasn’t comfortable giving me verbal affirmations or anything that sounded remotely romantic.  I thought he was just trying to protect my heart and not give me too much in case we didn’t get married, but in hindsight I can say it was a combination of that and him simply not being emotionally ready or experienced in this area.

Well, that was hard enough on me, because I longed to hear simple things from him like “I miss you,” “I can’t wait to see you again,” or maybe even slightly more flowery things like “My life is incomplete without you.”  (We did start saying these things as we progressed towards engagement, but at the time this story takes place, we weren’t there yet…)

It’s understandable that I did carry pain from our lack of verbal affection, because I needed affirmation from him that he wasn’t just dating me because I was a good friend he could consider marrying, but because he had feelings for me.  Plus, I  grew up feeding on American media, remember?

So I was saying goodbye to a large group of friends (probably before a final date with David at a café or something) before catching my flight back home.  And “Joshua,” a very cordial fellow, said something to me like “Jenny, it was wonderful to have you visit us and we can’t wait till you come again.”

In hindsight, I now see clearly that it was NOT a romantic gesture.  He was BEING POLITE.  Now I know he wasn’t even speaking with particular emotion.  But the words he used evoked strong emotion in me because I was so starved for it, even if it was just good manners giving the illusion of affectionate feelings towards me.  And I thought he liked me too, but he wasn’t saying anything since I was already dating David.

Joshua used the words that described the heart I wanted David to have towards me.  I did ask David for more affectionate words, but he didn’t consider it yet appropriate.  He really didn’t want to mess around and was determined to keep us ‘pure’ in both dating and, if we could make it there, marriage.

And so came my downfall.  My hunger for words of affirmation exceeded my patience to wait for them from David.  And I was too dense and too desperate to realize that God had an endless supply of amazing affirmations to speak into my heart and build me up as I so desperately needed. I wanted to hear them from a man.  And if “my” man couldn’t give me what I needed, this other man would have to do.

And so I began taking in Joshua’s cordiality (even in reply emails that were simply a happy face!) to fill my pit of emotional need.  It didn’t fill my pit, but I kept eating anyway, like when starving people will eventually eat dirt to fill their empty stomachs.  I didn’t like that I was attracted to Joshua, I wished I wasn’t, but I struggled and struggled over the next couple of years with feelings stronger than I am proud to admit.

It all ended in my heart, finally, years later, when I finally saw other sides to Joshua that showed he was just a man after all, with his own issues and struggles, and he (nor any man) would never be able to fill my needs.  What probably helped more is David and I working through intimacy issues and grew closer from the heart.  However, what unquestionably helped most of all was connecting closely with Daddy to the point where my needs started getting met by Him at their most foundational level.

Wow, hindsight is 20/20.   This is so powerful for me to deconstruct.  I honestly didn’t know with this clarity that was what was going on back then until I began working on this series.  If only I had the understanding I have now back then, I could have saved myself a lot of grief.  But I guess that’s how you learn.

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