Emotional Affair vs Physical Affair

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014


The idea of your husband or wife being physically intimate with another person is one of the worst aspects of discovering a spouses infidelity. The images replay in the betrayed spouses minds and the feelings of disgust can run deep. However, one can argue you can at least fight sex! The deep connection and sharing of hopes and dreams implied by a husbands emotional affair; his reliance on another woman for his emotional needs is far more of a betrayal of trust, as it calls into question the wife's role in the relationship and is far harder to fight. All affairs thrive on secrecy the thrill of nobody knowing what is going on; an emotional affair has those elements it just does not have the final bedroom scene! Physical affairs can be dismissed as momentary lust, a satisfying of vanity, a dangerous bit of fun; an emotional affair runs deeper.
While men may be less inclined to express their feelings than women, it does not mean that they are any less damaged by an emotional affair, recovery from which can be a long, arduous journey back to trust. Generally speaking, research has shown that women are more likely to pursue a burgeoning friendship at work, until it becomes romantic, than a man in the same situation. Women, so say psychologists, are more likely to see a friendship as a potential emotional connection, and follow through to establish that connection, than men who may enjoy the flirting and wonder about the potential for physical fun! Thus, the chance of emotional affairs turning intimate is increased on the part of the man because it is already under consideration, whilst a woman, dissatisfied with her husband is testing to see if this is her next soul mate. This seems a bit simplistic and sexist!
An emotional affair is on the cards when either spouse feels that there is something missing from their marriage.
They enjoy the flirting because it makes them feel attractive and important. The secrecy element is introduced as the connection becomes stronger, and the parties instinctively know that their respective spouses would not be happy with the developing friendship. The fact that 80% of full blown affairs started as emotional friendships at work, indicates that the emotional affair, when discovered, was probably not far from physically intimate already. The crucial difference between an emotional affair turning intimate and an affair that is physical from the start is time, the time these two people spent with each other and not their spouses. Time spent sharing a closeness denied to their spouses, and a time not spent with other people at the office. The working lunch that becomes a discussion on hopes and dreams. The secret phone calls in order to hear the others voice and be reassured that they are cared for; this is the stuff of betrayal. This is why the recovery process from this type of affair is so difficult; because the cheating spouse was in denial over the emotional affair and the betrayed spouse feels that everything they bring to the marriage is being challenged and found wanting.

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