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What are the signs that a relationship may be at risk? There are two early warnings that suggest infidelity might be a problem: secrecy and emotional distance in the relationship.

The first early warning sign of infidelity is secrecy. Is one partner not telling the other about contact with someone of the opposite sex? Does a partner want to hit the “delete key” when there is email with “that other party?” Is that partner not sharing the general content of the email exchange?

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Sometimes the person who is having trouble with a relationship will look for someone to talk to or one who can provide a more objective perspective from the other side of the gender divide (i.e. a man can get a woman’s point of view to help him understand his wife or a woman can get some insight about her husband from a man’s perspective). Even if there is no infidelity, sharing secrets about one’s relationship to a “non-partner” is a stepping stone to more closeness. It’s one thing to share a specific issue on occasion, but another thing to have ongoing conversations about basic problems in the relationship. These discussions open a door not only to advice, but consolation, which then can lead to an intimate climate between the two. This can then lead to the beginnings of an emotional infidelity followed by a full blown relationship. The bottom line: if there is a problem in a relationship, the issues need to be discussed between the partners themselves.

The second warning sign is that there is a feeling of an ongoing emotional distance from a partner. Distance occurs when there is not a sharing of mutual dreams and plans. Couples that don’t dream and plan together lose a sense of purpose and identity as a couple. This may happen when couples don’t spend time with each other or go on regular dates. Emotional distance also occurs when resentments aren’t cleared up and then begin to fester, sometimes for years and years.

Not all couples facing the above situations are necessarily having an affair, but these situations make the relationship more vulnerable to unfaithfulness. Secrecy and emotional distance can signal that a couple has lost some of its positive emotional energy and is moving in a very negative direction that may well end in infidelity.

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