What to Do When an Emotional Affair is Out in the Open?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014


You have seen the emotional affair signs, interpreted them correctly, challenged your spouse and they have admitted to being in an emotional infidelity with a hitherto "friend". You now know the truth, and whilst you are relieved that your instincts have not let you down, you rather wish that you did not know! This is only natural once the knowledge is there it cannot be taken back you have to face the pain of betrayal.
Handling your reaction to this knowledge is not something you can be taught, as the initial reaction you have will depend on the circumstances surrounding the discovery, but you can mitigate the impact of this by allowing yourself time to think. The cheating spouse may push you for decisions, or forgiveness in order to assuage their guilt, but you have the right to some breathing space, and time to reflect, so tell them that you need time to think. There are, however, times when an emotional infidelity is not recognized as infidelity.
Emotional affair signs are hotly denied by spouse!
It may be that the cheating spouse is still in denial and that your first conversations are arguments about whether they are actually cheating on you. It is worth remembering the statistics for emotional affairs turning intimate, (about 50%) and realizing that a sexual component is present even if there has been no physical contact. The guilt of these feelings will be causing the cheating spouse to deny involvement even more adamantly; they do not want to admit they have been unfaithful, or acknowledge their sexual attraction to the other person. Whilst you are the one who has been betrayed and is hurting, unless you are able to get your spouse to admit and understand their feelings for this other person, you will never learn how to end an emotional affair and move forward in repairing the marriage. You will need to take your spouse through each of the emotional affair signs, explaining what alerted you to the affair; this will help them to understand that their emotional withdrawal from the marriage and sharing of emotional intimacy with another person is infidelity, and why you feel betrayed.
Although you are raw with emotion at this point, and possibly want revenge or a way to vent your anger and pain; somehow you need to keep a cool head and identify two crucial pieces of information from your spouse.
Does your spouse believe that they are in love with this other person, or just using them to fill a need for emotional intimacy they do not feel that they have within the marriage?
Is the emotional affair over, or do they feel they need to continue this relationship and are in denial?
The cheating spouse needs to know how to end an emotional affair if your marriage is to survive. You then need to ask yourself an important question; do you want to repair your marriage? There are some spouses who, on discovering that their partner is cheating on them are not interested in ending the emotional affair, but in ending the marriage. If this is how you feel, it may be an instant reaction to the discovery, or a reflection of your own dissatisfaction within the marriage. In the turmoil you are experiencing, this may not be clear, but you must tell your spouse how you feel. Sometimes, the knowledge that the emotional affair signs are a clear enough indicator of infidelity to threaten the end of the marriage, results in the cheater ending an emotional affair immediately, and they begin working on saving their marriage.

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