Is it REALLY “Just Friends”? Emotional Affairs in Law Enforcement Relationships

Are they really “just friends” or is there something more going on? Today we are going to talk about how to determine just that.


You see your spouse texting or DMing on their phone and then see them smile. Who are they texting? You slide over next to them and see it is a person of the opposite sex.  It seems like they talk to that person quite a bit.  You start to wonder what the connection is.  Are they really “just friends” or is there something more going on? Today we are going to talk about how to determine just that.

I have had many client sessions with couples that are disagreeing about a relationship that their spouse is having with the opposite sex. There are times when these relationships are plutonic with clear-cut boundaries. While other times, there is gray area with boundaries crossed. Then, of course, there are situations where there is a full-blown affair. The common retort when someone is confronted is almost always, “We’re just friends”. I recognize that I have same-sex couples that listen to my podcast, so I hope you forgive me if I say opposite sex today, these same concepts apply to your relationship as well.

Vulnerability for Affairs in Law Enforcement Relationships

As law enforcement couples, we are vulnerable to forming emotional connections with other people for several reasons.

Different Schedules: We spend so much time away from each other and we aren’t able to connect emotionally and/or physically.

Not always available to each other emotionally: There are times when someone isn’t available to talk. This can be both physically not available as well as mentally.

Don’t work to understand each other’s world: There is a lack of cultural competence and understanding of each other’s perspectives.

Lack of intimate relationships/attention: We want to have the physical touch and feel cherished or important to the other person but can’t because of logistics and lack of emotional connection.


We look for people to have that connection with.  Sometimes those relationships are plutonic and supportive. Sometimes those opposite-sex relationships start plutonic and then slide into something else.  Sometimes you are in an emotional affair, and you don’t even realize it. Most affairs are gradual. They happen because we are forming a connection with someone over a common interest or situation. Here are some examples.

              Connection on a work situation after a call.

              Staying late to finish a big project

              Having a show that you watch in common

              Being lonely and it just being nice to have someone to speak to.

These connections can lead to affairs without ANY premeditation. Most affairs don’t start with the idea of having an affair. It’s a slow slide. More and more personal information is shared, and boundaries start to get blurred. Maybe we start talking about feelings. Maybe we start comforting people when that doesn’t need to be our place. Maybe start complaining about our spouse or needs not being met. Then we start showing up for the other person and being supportive of their needs. It leads to the sparkle and eventually the first step to an emotional affair. Being connected and attracted to other people is human. We must be clear about our boundaries to protect our relationship.

 “Only” an Emotional Affair

Even if the infidelity is “only” emotional, it often leads to a double life of deception and sexuality, threatening once secure marriages. “Only” an emotional affair is still infidelity.

Dr. Shirley Glass has one of the greatest books about affairs called Not Just Friends.  She has some great information in her book about emotional affairs and the “slow slide”.  She passed away several years ago, but her website is still active, and she has several handouts and quizzes on the site. So, Dr. Glass’ information, let’s break down if that conversation that you are having with your friend is as plutonic as you think.  The following quizzes are taking from Shirley Glass’ book Not “Just Friends” and her website [NOTE: In the time between recording and publishing the podcast, Dr. Glass’ website seems to be taken down. He book is still available and a valuable resource.]

Quiz: Has Your Friendship Become an Emotional Affair?

1.       Do you confide more to your friend than to your partner about how your day went?

2.       Do you discuss negative feelings or intimate details about your marriage with your friend but not with your partner?

3.       Are you open with your partner about the extent of your involvement with your friend?

4.       Would you feel comfortable if your partner heard your conversation with your friend?

5.       Would you feel comfortable if your partner saw a videotape of your meetings?

6.       Are you aware of the sexual tensions in this friendship?

7.       Do you and your friend touch differently when you are alone than in front of others?

8.       Are you in love with your friend?

Dr. Glass also gives some questions about evaluating your online friendship to see if the interaction is too friendly. Being online isn’t inherently bad, it’s the way we use the platform. If you are using social media to support your relationship or to find other people to be supportive, that’s great. Just be careful not to cross a boundary.

Quiz: Is Your On-Line Friendship Too Friendly?

1.        Do you find yourself coming to bed later at night because you are chatting on-line?

2.       Do you ever exit a screen because you do not want a family member to see what you are reading or writing to a chat room member?

3.       Have you ever lied to your spouse about your personal internet activities?

4.       Would you feel uncomfortable sharing your internet correspondence with your spouse?

5.       Have you ever set up a separate email account or credit card to carry on a personal correspondence with an individual online?

6.       Has your internet correspondence had a negative effect on your work or household tasks?

7.       Have you ever lied in response to a question from your spouse your email or internet correspondence?

8.       Have you ever exchanged photos of yourself with a secret email correspondent?

9.       Since beginning a secret email correspondence, have you experienced either a loss or an unusual increase in sexual desire with your spouse?

10.   Have you made arrangement to talk secretly with your email friend?

I just want to briefly mention that females and males cheat at the same rate. All boundaries must be clear for females as well. Whether it’s at work, in the community, in church, or with neighbors down the street.

If you recognize that your friendship or your partner’s friendship may be in the danger zone of too much emotional intimacy, use this awareness to address concerns about your marriage. This quiz will help you see where you stand.

Have the courage to have that difficult conversation with your spouse by saying something like, “Hey I know you are friends with Todd.  I’m a little concerned based on something I heard about having boundaries around friendships.  I’m wondering if you would take a quiz online with me and we can talk about concerns there might be.”

You may also check in with your spouse about the type of connection they may be missing with you and work together to set aside time for connecting and intimate communication.

 If you want to know more about creating those conversations, check out my book Hold the Line.

 You can check out this quiz at Shirley Glass’ website, [I was unable to link to the site as it was down at the time of publication.]

Until next time, y’all, keep it code 4!


Is it REALLY “Just Friends”? Emotional Affairs in Law Enforcement Relationships

Are they really “just friends” or is there something more going on? Today we are going to talk about how to determine just that.