I had hoped to re-publish here a blog post by musician, writer and artist Carsie Blanton titled “Emotional Affairs Are Not a Real Problem.” But I have not yet heard back from her to see if Planet Waves has permission. So instead, I’m going to direct you to the piece here on Blanton’s own blog.
Here’s how the piece begins:
I’ve been coming across a lot of articles about emotional affairs, and they give me the heeby-jeebies. I find the “emotional affair” to be a vague and unhelpful concept, whose primary function seems to be introducing an extra helping of paranoia and guilt into our relationships.
Articles like this one (and this one) remind me of articles on fad diets: they start by convincing you that there’s a problem (“Are you having an emotional affair?”), and then they offer you a solution that is vague, unscientific, and likely to create more problems (“You need to work on your marriage!”).
So, no. I don’t think emotional affairs are a real problem. If they seem like a problem, I’d wager that you probably have bigger problems – and probably not the problems you’d expect.
What follows is Blanton’s description of five real relationship problems, and her philosophy of continual communication, negotiation and, if necessary, recognition of when it is no longer healthy and enjoyable to be partnered. That these thoughts are coming so articulately from someone on the cusp of turning 30 strikes me as a genuine bright spot in a landscape populated with Millennial generation hookup culture and fears of being vulnerable and intimate. I’m curious to hear your thoughts here on Blanton’s full article.
This is totally awesome, and makes so much sense. The myth of the emotional affair is a rather dreadful one, and a lot of the articles on the interwebs (yes, sadly, I went there when I was married) look as if they’re from the same steaming pile as abstinence-only. Counterproductive, to say the least.
I love this perspective and it is my experience – except for full sexual relationships – which are yet a point of contention between my partner and I. However the fully emotional outside relationship has proven its value in our inside relationship. My partner has grown by leaps and bounds in the loving art of acceptance which has allowed her to be as open as I and we together are living a healthy partnership, since we adjusted to our reality and dropped the pretense.
Carsie Blanton says below:
As you may suspect, there is an inherent danger in these kinds of relationships. There is a danger that I’ll fall in love with one of my music-geekout-partners (not to mention one of my sex partners), and leave my husband for them. Or that I’ll be so happy out here in The Watermelon that I decide never to go back in the house. And, like in any relationship: no matter how careful we are about having scary conversations and making conscious agreements, we might still break them.
But the alternative, if you ask me, is much more dangerous. In so many partnerships, we see two people agreeing – implicitly – to live as a more-miserable versions of themselves, by abnegating needs and desires that they imagine might make their partner uncomfortable.
Our whole system seems to be built on sacrifice. Hopefully it is changing to a system built on honesty. That will be a great exchange for sure.
Thanks for this interesting piece. Have been thinking about this lately, as over the last year I’ve become friends with an ex-colleague of mine, an extremely attractive, charming, and… married man, with whom I previously shared the same job, and share similar tastes in music, and the love of trying to figure out what makes us tick. He clearly loves his woman – and though I pick up a vibe there, it is no more than a friendship. However, I can’t help wondering about whether he and his wife have the same kind of deal that Carsie Blanton and her partner do….
So, Beth Bagner (longtime friend of Planet Waves and former contributing photographer) tells us on Facebook that Carsie is Brad Blanton’s daughter. He’s the guy behind “Radical Honesty.” I had wondered while reading her website if that might be the case, given her approach to her life and relationships. Can’t say I’m surprised…