Question and Answer on Emotional Affairs

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014


Q: What exactly is an emotional affair?
A: An emotional affair is difficult to define since it happens mostly in the minds of people without being defined by specific actions like normal cheating. But essentially an emotional affair is any kind of inappropriate relationship between two people that threatens one of those people's primary relationship.
Typically an emotional affair will involve infatuation, flirting, and keeping secrets from someone about the nature of the relationship.
Q: What causes emotional cheating to occur?
A: Just like any sort of affair, an emotional affair is usually caused by some sort of problem in the primary relationship. When things don't work properly with your relationship and one person isn't getting their needs met (emotional or physical), then they become prone to having an emotional affair.
What may start out as an innocent acquaintance may quickly turn into an infatuation if the other woman makes our husband feel like he is getting his unmet need fulfilled from her. Maybe she makes him feel desirable, respected, or powerful while he doesn't get those feelings from his relationship with you.
Q: Do emotional affairs lead to physical affairs?
A: They can, but not always. It isn't uncommon for feelings to build over time and for sexual tension to eventually lead to the point where the two people can no longer handle it. The first kiss may take months or even years to get to, but going from first kiss to the bedroom usually isn't long at all.
However, there are some emotional affairs that never become physical at all. There could be countless reasons for this. Perhaps the people live far away from each other. Maybe to them it is just "innocent flirting" or they are just doing it to boost their ego. Perhaps their definition of an affair is different and they don't see anything wrong with what they are doing.
Q: Is emotional infidelity the same as physical infidelity?
A: Yes! Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. If your husband is sneaking around behind your back and keeping secrets from you about who he is seeing or what they are doing, than that isn't good for your relationship. And if he is having a deeper and more meaningful connection with another woman than he is with you, then that is definitely emotional cheating.
Q: What should be done about emotional cheating?
A: The first thing is that the relationship with the other woman should be stopped immediately. You and your husband need to recognize that this is a symptoms that something is wrong with your marriage and that you need to fix it.
Take time to talk about how each of you feel your relationship and try to discover what unmet needs you are experiencing. Work together to develop realistic strategies that will help you start to meet these needs and work at building a continued commitment to your marriage.
emotional affairs are difficult, but just like a physical affair, you can fix your relationship and make it better than it was before.

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