What Is Emotional Cheating And How Can It Hurt?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014


Is an emotional affair cheating? Any time an emotional bond is formed between friends who are in relationships with other people, there is an affair forming. There is no need for a physical side for this bond to be an infidelity. There is a blurred line which separates a platonic friendship from cheating. An affair could start even when there was no real intention to start one. The damage caused to a marriage, however, is just as real.
Exactly what is emotional cheating? If your spouse has a relationship outside your marriage and they are giving and receiving emotional support then you have emotional cheating. Basically it is when someone goes outside the relationship to satisfy an emotional need they perceive is not being met within the relationship and it is done without the knowledge of their spouse. They will also be supplying their emotional energy to their new partner.
As soon as you start sharing your feelings and issues with a friend instead of your partner you are heading into an emotional affair. You may start to feel closer to the friend instead of your partner. You may be giving them gifts. This will all lead to a gradual withdrawal from your spouse and the breakdown of your marriage.
An emotional affair may or may not have a level of sexual attraction. In fact, there is no real definition of "emotional affair" because it will mean something different to each person. It is more a boundary which is set by both partners in a relationship. If both partners can understand and agree on what kind of interactions are fine and which are likely to cause issues then the blurry line can be brought into focus. Communication between partners is of the essence here. Above all, avoid being secretive.
Because emotional affairs often develop from ordinary friendships care must be taken to avoid a good friendship turning into something it was never intended to be. Naturally, you should not fear friendships because of this but be wary of a bond developing which is closer than a simple friendship.
How do you know if a friendship is becoming more an emotional affair? One simple way is to imagine your friend going on a date with someone. Does it make you feel jealous? If it does then the affair is already developing and you need to draw back before things really go bad. Remember, you may not realise you are entering an emotional affair because it can happen very gradually.
At the end of the day, an emotional affair can cause just as much damage to a marriage as a full-blown affair with all the bells and whistles. It is a betrayal of your partners trust and no amount of sugar coating will change that. "But we are just friends" is a lie if that imaginary line has been crossed and a bond formed.

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