Carmen didn’t realize she’d been engaging in a close call for months, and that this lengthy, intimate phone conversation was about to tip the relationship one way or the other. It eventually led to an affair that Ted had the hardest time forgiving. He could never understand why his young and beautiful wife would get involved with a “fat old man” who was twice her age.

How indeed could she? Let’s explore why this close call happened. Perhaps if Carmen had recognized Mr. Caldwell as a profile of her dangerous partner, this close call would have ended as a close call—and not ruined a marriage.

The Dangerous Partner Profile
Mr. Caldwell might not have looked like a potential dangerous partner, but for Carmen he was. Not every man holds the same attraction for every woman and vice versa. But with the dangerous partner profile person, the attraction is immediate and passionate. As we began to explore this concept, remember the following concerns:

The reason you didn’t marry someone like your dangerous partner profile person is because you knew intuitively that such a person would not be good for you in the long run.

Your spouse might be very different from your dangerous partner profile person, but that doesn’t mean that he/she is less attractive to you. Dangerous partner profile persons are composites of those individuals who appear to meet all of the deficits you bring to your marriage.

The dangerous partner profile person often defies all of your training, culture, common sense, and values. There is often no apparent logic in the close call or even in the affair with a dangerous partner profile person. A dangerous partner profile is lurking in the sub-conscious of all of us and remains there as a powerful secret until a couple is willing to talk out the composite images that reside in each of them.

Most marriages get in trouble because the spouses stop doing what they do best. I believe that a spouse’s failure to nurture the other spouse, in ways that he or she desires, can make the spouse vulnerable to an individual with their particular “dangerous partner profile.” This marital void has two components: emotional and activity.

Emotional Component
There are five special treatments, readily apparent when you are infatuated with each other. Many couples have stopped practicing them even though this is what they used to do best: accommodate, admire, adore, affirm, and show affection for each other. These are the kinds of attitudes and expressions that drew you to each other. They are also exactly what the “dangerous partner” will utilize to create a close call and to attract your spouse into an illicit relationship. The language of attraction becomes the language of seduction.

When I am counseling a couple in postadultery recovery, the spouse who has been unfaithful often weeps when I mention these. Why? Because we all like to hang out with folks who would rather be with us more than anything or anyone else (accommodation). We all like to converse with those who look up to us (adoration), respect what we do and who we are (admiration), tell us what they think is so great about us (affirmation), and take the time to show us these things in ways we enjoy (affection). This is what you used to do best. However, many couples have come to settle for less of these practices than either spouse has wanted. Many of us are starved for this kind of nurturance.

Activity Component
There are deficits that occur in every marriage. Here I want to emphasize the one deficit that is universal to marriages that experience adultery: the loss of fun. Most couples just stop having fun together. They don’t spend money on their marriage. They have stopped building memories between just the two of them. They are consumed with making it through the day, to the end of the month, all the while hoping for something better next year.

In order to have time for yourselves, you have to steal it from your children. Yes, you read that right! Children are born narcissistic and egocentric, and they will take all the time, all the energy, all the money you have and still not be satisfied. You can build great family memories with your children all there in one place (we have four adult children and five grandchildren), but you can only build a personal relationship between the two of you when you are alone with each other. Having fun together will help prevent the close call of finding fun with someone else!

Are there things you’ve stopped doing? Are these voids that someone else might come along and fill?

Pursuit Pattern
This is the pattern of attention that you are most vulnerable to. Does it make you uncomfortable when someone of the opposite sex says nice things to you, or are you so starved for their affirmation that you become weak in the knees? Are you susceptible when somebody comes after you? Or do you have to go after them to feel vulnerable? Do you want to be caught, or do you want to give chase?

Internal Age
Did you know that every person has an internal, developmental age as well as an external, chronological age? Rarely do the two match perfectly across the life span. Any number of circumstances, individuals, or environments can trigger either a regression or a rapid advancement in internal age.

Often certain individuals can make each of us feel incompetent or stupid, or on the other hand, superior or attractive. Our roles and environments can influence our feelings of our internal age. For instance, the smaller an individual’s role in life, usually the younger they feel. Sometimes we have a yearning to go back to an “idealized age,” a time when everything seemed perfect, with very little or no responsibility.

Copyright © 2009 by Dave Carder, Used with Permission, Published by Moody Publishers. Adapted from Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You To Know About Protecting Your Marriage