If you’ve ever been stung by a partner habitually blurring the lines between friendship and flirtation with someone else, you get it. Emotional cheating is difficult to pin down because it involves crossing invisible lines—boundaries you thought were sacred in your relationship. When most people think of cheating, they think of physical cheating. There are many ways an individual can be unfaithful, including emotional cheating. Emotional cheating is highly common. In fact, the results of one study showed that 78.6 percent of men and 91.6 percent of women admitted to having an emotional affair at some point in their relationship. I will be breaking this topic into bits, because a lot of us have misunderstandings about physical cheating and emotional cheating. However, as you read down, you will understand that there is actually a big difference between the two.
While a person may blame a one-night stand on a momentary lapse of judgment, an emotional affair can extend much deeper in terms of significance. So what is emotional cheating, exactly? Well, there are often feelings of intimacy involved, and it’s something that’s developed over time, not overnight. And, most crucially, it can be destructive to a relationship.
Emotional cheating is defined as the act of betraying your partner by investing your emotional energy into someone else who is not your partner, from which you get gratification and emotional intimacy. It is also a particular type of secretive, intimate closeness with someone who isn’t your primary partner.
It’s one person making a unilateral decision to cultivate nonsexual intimacy with someone other than their primary romantic partner in a way that weakens or undermines the relationship. If you are not sure or clear, don’t worry. As you read further down, you will get your confusion all cleared out. And also, you will know why people are involved in emotional cheating, how to recognize the signs and how to handle it if you come across it in your relationship.
Signs Of Emotional Cheating Partner
- Meeting with the other person is kept secret from their partner.
- They do what they can’t do with their partner with the other person.
- Spending a lot of time with the other person and not their partner
- Their personal details are shared with the other person and not their partner.
- They find comfort in the other person.
- Lying to their partner of their whereabouts
- Deleting text messages from their phone, and stepping out to pick up calls when they are with their partner
- Changing their style or appearance
- They start talking about a new friend or co-worker
- Getting annoyed easily
- Asking for more space or time alone
- They are more detached fro. You after connecting with the other person
- They stop expressing their needs
- They give up on resulting issues
It is important to point out that these signs are not a hundred percent guarantee that your partner is engaged in emotional cheating. But if you notice them, they could be pointing to something serious. Don’t just overlook them, pay attention to them.
Why Do People Cheat Emotionally?
This is a big question that most people want to get an answer to. Most emotional affairs are actually caused by a lot of minor things you think won’t be able to cause a mishap in your relationship. Enough of the long talk, let’s see why people cheat emotionally.
If your partner is emotionally cheating on you, you might be wondering: why are they doing this? Is it because they’re secretly in love with this other person? Have they stopped loving me? Is it because there’s something wrong? Is our relationship over? The most common reason that emotional cheating occurs is an opportunity. Another reason is when one partner is trying to get a deeper need met—or to protect themselves from a feared scenario. You ask yourself questions like, why aren’t they trying to get this need met with you? How come they don’t just share their inner world, their fears, and their vulnerabilities with you directly rather than cultivating a close bond elsewhere? These are big questions with complex answers that vary.
Maybe they’ve tried to get close to you, but you’ve been dismissive, judgmental, or unavailable. Maybe they themselves are afraid of driving you away with their “neediness.” Maybe depending on you scare them. Maybe they’re mad at you. Or maybe they don’t see emotional cheating the same way you do. Maybe they need lots of connections with a wide variety of people, whereas you don’t. That’s quite a lot of “maybes,” isn’t it? Let’s discuss the best approach when you find out your partner isn’t entirely faithful to you.
What To Do When You Find Out Your Partner Is Involved in Emotional Cheating
Having someone you love betray your love and trust can be unbearable and as a result, may cause you to act too quickly without thinking things through, which usually ends up in even more regrets. Instead of acting too on impulse, take a chill pill and do the following
#1. Confront your partner
It’s normal to feel angry or want to confront your partner in a dramatic way after you learn about an emotional affair. That’s typically not the best approach, though. Give yourself a day or two to let your emotions settle. Then, set aside time to speak to your partner privately. During the conversation, focus on your feelings and use “I” language so your partner doesn’t feel attacked or need to get defensive. Work together to create explicit understandings about boundaries, trust, and safety, when it comes to closeness with outside others.
The next thing after a confrontation is to listen to their own side of the story. For all you know, you may be misinterpreting the whole scenario. Someone can slip into a deeply emotional friendship without planning for it. Ask your partner how they see the nature of the other relationship, then listen.
#3. Fight the urge to find proof.
You might really, really want to snoop through your partner’s phone, email, or DMs to confirm what they must have told you or what is really going on. Don’t do that. It could be hard, especially when they’re acting too suspicious and you, on the other hand, are convinced they’re lying, but resist the urge anyway. Whatever you find will only make you feel bad, first of all. Then, if you want to bring it up with your partner, you will need to tell them that you snooped, which is a huge breach of trust.
#4. Set your boundaries and discuss them.
It’s important to define what’s crossing the line when it comes to intimacy in your relationship. Even if there are no signs of cheating, emotionally or physically, all couples can benefit from having an honest conversation about boundaries.
Are you comfortable with your partner grabbing drinks with a coworker, one-on-one? Is it OK if they sleep in the same bed as their childhood best friend, who also happens to be super-hot now? Is texting an ex to talk about their feelings out of bounds?
There are no right and wrong answers here. What matters is that you come to an understanding with your partner about what you’re each comfortable with and that you can trust each other to respect those boundaries. Remember, the right and appropriate time to do this is usually at the beginning of the relationship.
#5. Figure out the next level in your relationship
Next, it’s time to decide if you’re going to continue with your relationship. Whether or not your partner has officially admitted to emotional cheating, you need to decide if you’re able to get over their emotional intimacy with someone else. You should evaluate their response to your feelings of distance, and how much effort they have put in to remedy the situation. If your partner continues to text someone else every night, or no longer appears interested in you, physically or emotionally, even after you’ve addressed the situation, it may be time to move on.
#6. Work On Rebuilding Your Trust
If you decide to remain together, you and your partner should work to understand the root cause of your distance from each other. You might consider working with a therapist (together or separately) to help you rebuild intimacy and trust. Make a plan for rebuilding your closeness, and check in with each other about your progress.
#7. Feel your emotions
Don’t beat yourself up for your straying partner. Sometimes couples simply grow apart, setting the stage for someone else to emotionally swoop in. In many cases, it was never the intention of the person having the affair to get so caught up in things. Unlike physical affairs, emotional affairs can sneak up on those involved.
What matters most is that you take care of yourself, and try to reserve self-judgment and blame as you navigate this scenario. Love really can conquer all, so if you want to make things work with your partner after an emotional affair, know that it’s possible to come out the other side stronger and more connected.
How to Protect Your Relationship
- Work on building shared friendships and interests.
- Work on improving your communication skills
- Return to the beginning of your relationship and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
These aren’t the only safeguards against emotional cheating, of course. But, they’re a good starting point.
The pain from emotional cheating partner runs deep. Some emotional infidelity never turns physical, but it still involves a breach of trust and support. But it’s never too late for a heart-to-heart conversation. Openly sharing your feelings and fears is the first step to turning to your partner instead of someone else for support.
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Can a relationship survive emotional cheating?
An emotional affair can feel even more harmful at times because the partner’s emotional needs have been met by someone else. If you or your partner has had an emotional affair, your relationship will almost surely survive and may even grow closer than before the affair.
Is emotional cheating forgivable?
Many marriages can heal from an emotional affair if the outside relationship ends. Individual results vary, as they do in all aspects of relationships. It is up to the parties concerned to forgive an emotional affair.
How do I fix my marriage after emotional cheating
- Be honest with your partner.
- Be sure you’re committed to your relationship.
- Let yourself grieve.
- See the difference between infatuation and love.
- Work on rebuilding trust.
- Analyze the reasons.
- Give each other space.
- Reconnect with your partner