Although emotional cheating can be an extremely controversial subject, the term can broadly be defined as emotional unfaithfulness. When you start to share intimate thoughts and feelings with someone who isn’t your spouse or partner, then you begin to walk the fine line between friendship and an emotional affair. And that’s precisely the point where things become controversial. Emotional cheating doesn’t involve physical intimacy or intercourse, so it can be much harder to define than a sexual affair.
When your spouse or partner has sex with someone outside of your relationship, then the situation is pretty cut and dry. Either they had sex or they didn’t. But with an emotional affair, it can be much more difficult to draw that line and determine where “friendship” ends and an “emotional affair” begins.
Is having lunch with an opposite sex co-worker off limits? Is listening to a friend and discussing intimate details of their personal life and relationships considered cheating?
Does calling or texting a co-worker outside of work violate the relationship and cross the line?
These are difficult questions with difficult answers. Many times these questions can only be answered on a case by case basis. After all, no two people are exactly the same and what is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. It’s important to create clear boundaries in your relationships so you and your partner know when they are crossing the line. It’s also important to know how your partner defines an affair.
Many couples disagree about infidelity and don’t feel they were cheating because they “only had internet sex”, “only had oral sex”, “only held each other”, or, in the case of emotional affairs, “only talked intimately.” The main thing to keep in mind is if you are doing something that makes your spouse or partner feel hurt, angry, or betrayed, even if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, then it’s time to sit down and reassess the situation before the relationship turns ugly. To make the situation more confusing and more difficult, technologies like texting and the Internet have made it possible for an emotional affair to occur between two people who have never even met face to face. Anonymity coupled with these technologies allows people to share their most intimate thoughts and feelings with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
What is Emotional Cheating Be Like?
Infidelity statistics suggest online affairs and internet infidelity are on the rise with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. When it comes to emotional cheating and emotional infidelity in marriage, it’s not about sex. It’s about being unfaithful to your spouse or partner through secrecy, deception, and betrayal. It’s about giving your heart to someone else which is why an emotional affair is sometimes referred to as an affair of the heart.
When discussing emotional affairs, psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz, who is often featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, states, “It also has to do with the amount of emotional energy that you put into the other person and are no longer giving your partner.”
2 Ways of Emotional Cheating
Emotional cheating usually turns out one of two ways. In the best case scenario, the friendly relationship stops and a couple reconnects emotionally. When this doesn’t happen, an emotional affair generally turns more physically intimate at some point and can escalate into a full-on sexual affair.
Emotional affairs turning intimate should be a serious concern if you or your spouse are currently involved in emotional infidelity. In his best selling course, “How to Survive An Affair”, marriage counselor and relationship expert, Dr. Frank Gunzburg, states, “The affair is always the cheater’s fault and you need to come to terms with that now, rather than trying to hedge your bets by finding technicalities you can excuse yourself on. It doesn’t matter how awful things were in your relationship or even if you were kicked out of the house for the night; you still violated the bond of your relationship.
If you stay wrapped up in this kind of mindset, you will never get past the affair.” Dr. Frank has over 30 years experience dealing with these kinds of issues and offers an excellent 21 Step Spontaneous Healing Report for anyone wishing to work on repairing their relationship after a physical or emotional affair. With a typical divorce costing thousands of dollars, we see Dr. Frank’s counseling course as a very small investment for those truly wishing to save their marriages and relationships.
So how do you know if you or your spouse is involved in an emotional affair?
Is there anyway to know for sure? First, look for changes in behavior.
Changes in the way someone feels are almost always directly correlated with the way they act. For example, a person who is angry acts much differently than a person who is happy. Likewise, a person who is growing emotionally distant from their spouse or partner will act differently than when they are head over heels in love. Here are a few emotional cheating signs to watch out for.
This is not an exhaustive list and we will be exploring signs of an emotional affair in more detail in our next post, but if you’re experiencing anything from the list below, caution is advised.
- Lack of emotional intimacy
- Lack of sexual intimacy
- Extended periods of time away (e.g. working late, going out more with friends, staying out later than usual)
- Diminished physical closeness (e.g. spending less time cuddling, holding hands, kissing, etc.)
- Being guarded or defensive in conversations
- Being extremely private about phone conversations and text messages
- Being short in conversation (e.g. giving short answers, not providing details, not being very interested in conversation)
Technology has allowed people to more easily participate in emotional affairs, but it has also caused a lot of people to get caught.
Cell phone technology has advanced to the point where it is now possible to listen to conversations and read text messages from any phone that has special “spy software” installed on it. A couple examples of this type of software are Spouse Spy and mSpy. Whether it is right or wrong to spy on your spouse or partner is clearly a personal choice.
We’d simply like to point out that the technology does exist and may be the only way to identify cheating definitively so you don’t have to worry and wonder anymore. It can provide “proof” rather than “suspicion”. However, keep in mind things like text messages can easily be taken out of context when read or viewed outside of the rest of the conversation. If you’re wondering if you, yourself, might be involved in an emotional affair with a close friend or co-worker, then here are some questions you should ask yourself.
When answering these questions, it’s very important to be honest with yourself.
Do you spend a lot of time talking to or hanging out with your friend that you don’t tell your partner about?
Do you tell your friend intimate and/or private details about your relationship with your spouse or partner?
Do you discuss your spouse or partner’s faults and flaws with your friend?
Do you seem to spend more time talking and sharing feelings with your friend than you do with your spouse?
Do you find yourself always wanting to look your best for your friend?
Do you pay special attention to your appearance before seeing them or avoid them if you’re not feeling attractive?
Do you find yourself being sexually attracted to your friend whether they know about it or not?
Do you flirt with them? Would you feel nervous, uncomfortable, or guilty if your spouse or partner saw you with your friend or listened in on your conversations?
Does your friend call you or text you at home when you’re spending time with your spouse or partner?
Do you find yourself going into another room to talk to them or ignore their call if your spouse is around so they don’t hear the conversation?
Do you hang out with your friend or go out to lunch together without telling or involving your spouse or partner?
Do you keep your phone hidden or find yourself being possessive over it when your spouse is around?
Would you feel embarrassed or guilty if your partner was to read any of your texts or listen to voicemails from your friend?
If you’ve answered yes to more than just a couple of the above questions, then your actions could be classified as emotional cheating. You may think it’s harmless or that it doesn’t mean anything. After all, the two of you are “just friends”, right? Unfortunately, this line of thinking often gets people into trouble.
Most people involved with cheating in relationships aren’t out there purposely looking for an emotional affair. They don’t go into the relationship with a friend looking to cheat. But as the relationship progresses and more and more intimate details are shared, feelings grow and emotional affairs turn intimate. Recovering from infidelity and emotional cheating is never easy, but professional help, like that found in “How To Survive An Affair”, is available and highly recommended for those who truly want to save their relationship. o Survive An Affair”, is available and highly recommended for those who truly want to save their relationship.
What’s considered emotional cheating?
What counts as emotional cheating? Generally speaking, emotional cheating happens when your closeness to someone else disrupts your investment in your partner. You focus on the connection you have with them instead of on your existing (usually monogamous) relationship.
Is emotional cheating considered cheating?
While there are those who believe that an emotional affair is harmless, most marriage experts view an emotional affair as cheating without having a sexual relationship. Emotional affairs are often gateway affairs leading to full-blown sexual infidelity.
Do emotional affairs lead to divorce?
While emotional affairs can be just as damaging to the marriage as physical affairs, they do not constitute adultery in divorce court. … So if you cannot prove the physical affair took place, then you will be unable to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Testimony from one spouse is not enough to prove adultery.
How common are emotional affairs?
These types of affairs are increasingly common. Around 45% of men and 35% of women have admitted to having some sort of emotional affair, which is more than 20% more than people who admit to having a physical affair. One reason for the commonality is that many people don’t view emotional cheating as cheating.