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18 Emotional Affair Signs You Probably Didn’t Notice

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You may be having an emotional affair and not even know it. Use these emotional affair signs to find out if you’re more-than-friends with a friend. By Francesca Marie

emotional affair

These days, as close as two lovers may be, they can’t always be by each other’s side all the time.

Other than the weekend, most lovers spend a big part of their day away from each other.

And as humans, we have a need to feel loved and appreciated wherever we are.

In all probability, the good times you share with your friends and colleagues may be one of the biggest reasons why you enjoy your workplace.

[Read: 15 reasons why you’re bored of your own relationship]

Falling into an emotional affair

As time passes by, even though you have your own lover, you may start to like someone else’s company too.

At first, it may start off as someone to have a conversation with when you’re bored and your partner isn’t around to talk to you.

And then, the person turns into someone you like talking to.

And before you know it, this person becomes a pretty important part of your life.

[Read: Is casual flirting with someone else cheating?]

Add opposite-sex and stranger-to-your-partner into the equation, and you’ve good yourself a good chance of an emotional affair.

Signs of an emotional affair

An emotional affair is exciting. You get to experience the same flutter of the heart as you feel in love, but in this case, your partner isn’t around. It’s just harmless flirting, isn’t it?

Harmless flirting is good. It’s fun, it’s sexy and makes you feel more confident about yourself and your conversational skills. But is your harmless flirting with a colleague at your workplace turning into an emotional affair without you realizing it?

You may just be more addicted to your *friend* than you think! [Read: Signs both of you are already more than just friends]

18 emotional affair signs to judge your secret relationship better

So could you be cheating on your partner emotionally without even realizing it? Most of us are, and we just don’t know it.

Use these 18 emotional affair signs to find out if you’re having one. And once you get that answer, ask yourself the big question you have to eventually face one day, what are you going to do now? [Read: 10 tips to share a platonic relationship with your friend]

#1 Your behavior. You’re very friendly with this good friend of yours. But subconsciously, both of you keep some distance from each other when your lover is around. There’s more awkwardness and formality in your conversations when your lover’s by your side.

#2 Excitement. You feel really excited to share any new thoughts or ideas with this friend, be it your review of a movie you just watched or gossip about another coworker or classmate.

#3 You need to talk. Do you ever feel incomplete or feel like something’s missing when you don’t speak to your friend for a couple of days? Even when you’re on a vacation, do your thoughts drift and make you wonder what your friend is up to?

#4 You share your secrets. Do you share your innermost secrets with this friend? You may be sharing secrets that even your partner doesn’t know about. It makes you feel good to share such intimate details with your friend. At times, the idea of sharing a new secret may even excite you or make you feel more connected to each other.

#5 You want their attention. You get annoyed if you call your friend up late one night and realize they’re busy on another call with someone else. You find yourself feeling jealous if they date someone else, or speak highly about someone else to you. You’re not dating each other, but both of you like getting each other’s attention.

#6 It’s an addiction. You’re addicted to this friend. Both of you feel really happy to meet each other after a long weekend. And you feel like you’ve missed out on happy time if you don’t get to spend some time talking to this friend. [Read: What should you do when you start liking someone else?]

#7 You’re easily aroused. Do you get easily aroused when you’re having a conversation about sex with this friend? If you feel good talking about your own intimate sexual details with your friend and it somehow arouses you, there’s definitely an emotional affair in the air.

#8 Sexual tension. There’s a lot of sexual tension in the air. Even when both of you sit close to each other, you can clearly sense every part of your bodies that are touching each other.

#9 You flirt naturally. Both of you don’t always realize it, but there’s a lot of flirty conversations in the air when both of you share a moment with each other, and there’s no one around. [Read: 15 obvious flirting signs between a guy and a girl]

#10 You want to make an impression. You always find yourself dressing up better when you have to meet this friend. You may not consciously realize it, but you always try to look your best when you spend time with your friend.

#11 Compliments. If you’re sharing an emotional affair with a friend, big chances are, you take their compliments pretty seriously. If your friend tells you that you look prettier with your hair done a particular way or that red looks beautiful on you, it just makes your day!

#12 You’ve found your secret soulmate. This friend of yours understands you better than anyone else in the whole world. And you respect your friend’s advice more than you care about your own partner’s.

#13 You make sacrifices. You’d be willing to sacrifice anything just to make more time for your friend. You could stay up the whole night just to talk to your friend after your partner’s asleep. Or you could leave your place and head to work an hour early so you can spend more time with your friend. You don’t realize it, but you put your life, love and your career aside just to spend time with this friend. [Read: Understanding your mind – To cheat or not to cheat?]

#14 Together time. You spend more time talking to this friend of yours than you spend time with your own partner. And even if your partner tries to communicate with you, you subconsciously push them away because you’d prefer to have intellectual conversations only with your friend.

#15 Fantasies. Your friend pops into your sexual fantasies all the time. You may be having sex with your own partner, but somehow, you can’t stop thinking about how amazing it would be to make love to your friend.

#16 Downplaying. Whenever you speak about this friend with your partner, you talk about this friend like they’re not important at all. You try not to speak about this person with your partner or you portray your friend as someone insignificant in your life.

Additionally, you make a conscious effort to downplay your friend’s role in your life, and you try hard not to bring up this person’s name while in conversation with your partner. [Read: 10 ways to resist temptation in love]

#17 A secret wish. Even if you’re in a long term relationship with your partner, you spend a lot of time secretly wondering about how your life could have been if you and your friend had met earlier, before you started dating your partner.

#18 Talk of partners. Your friend and you avoid talking about each other’s partners too much. And even if one of you talk about your own lovers, it’s only for a few minutes before the conversation gets back to how nice both of you feel talking to each other and having each other as such good friends.

It’s a subtle way of reassuring each other that even though both of you are in love with other people, there’s still something magical about your emotional relationship. [Read: How to fall out of love when you see no future]

Are you experiencing an emotional affair?

Emotional affairs are extremely common. And almost all of us have been on the verge of getting into one without realizing it!

So if you’ve used these emotional affair signs and see that you’re experiencing almost all of them, it’s time to give it a serious thought, because as fun as they may seem now, it’s only ruining everything else around you. [Read: How to end an affair and completely get over it]

If you’re in an emotional affair with someone, you’d be jeopardizing your own relationship with your partner and may even start picking flaws in a perfect relationship. So now that you know you’re in an emotional affair, what do you want to do?

[Read: Should you ever confess to cheating on your partner?]

There are just two things you can do in this crossroad. Break up with your partner. Or end the emotional affair. These emotional affair signs don’t lie. Now it’s time to stop lying to yourself and make that decision, before it’s too late.


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Have your say!
  • Elise Fuger
    June 25, 2012 | Permalink |

    No matter what people think or who thinks otherwise, it’s just impossible for any of us to ever stay away from an emotional affair.

    These signs are extremely real and helpful when it comes to finding out of we’re having an emotional affair. I especially liked the #1 and #18 signs. It was so real I actually didn’t even realize I do the exact same thing until I read this article.

    But even if we get to know that we’re in an emotional affair, can we ever stop ourselves? I mean, why should we? It’s not like we’re having sex with this other person. Sometimes, I think it doesn’t hurt to have someone else to depend on, especially if you’re in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t always have time for you.

  • Samantha
    June 25, 2012 | Permalink |

    Emotional affairs are the worst thing you can step into. It may seem like fun at first, but as you step deeper into it, you’d realize that what seems like paradise is actually quicksand.

    I lost my boyfriend, my sleep, pissed my family off because I completely avoided them, and six months later, even finally lost my job because of it.

    I was so crazy about this guy whom I went to college with, because we had reconnected at a college reunion and he seemed interested in me. At first, we started talking now and then, and soon we were so addicted to each other, we could stay up the whole night and talk to each other all night long. He was a self employed guy, so sleeping habits didn’t matter to him. But to me, it ruined my appearance, I was easily annoyed with everyone because of the lack of sleep. But I was so addicted to him, I didn’t care. I even broke up with my boyfriend and moved out of my home because I didn’t want to be disturbed by anyone when I was talking to him over the phone.

    Finally, we got together and hooked up. We had a whirlwind romance for two weeks, and then he disappeared forever from my life because he already had a girlfriend and couldn’t cheat on her any longer.

    It’s been a year now, I was clinically depressed, I still miss him and have only recently been able to recover from the experience. I’ve just got a new job now, and even now, I only wish I would never have met him. I ruined my entire life because of these emotional affairs.

  • Drongo
    September 15, 2012 | Permalink |

    I am in the process of trying to break free from an emotional affair I have been involved in for the past 4 years. I recognise every single point listed in this article and even though the logical part of me realises how ludicrous I must look to anyone on the outside looking in, I just could not help myself. What makes it so much worse for me is I work very closely with the woman I had the emotional affair with. We have done everything with each other with the exception of full penetrative sex, so it did get physical at one point. There was a time when I would’ve given up my entire world to be with her. To be fair to her, she always said we would never be together and like a fool I ignored her completely and continued with this deluded fantasy that, if I kept trying hard enough to win her heart, we would eventually be together. In my defence, she had a habit of saying just enough to keep me hanging on and even though I have tried time and time again to stop, she always knew what buttons to push and make me come running back. To make it worse we work so closely together that we can spend up to 10 hours a day in each others company. Getting another job is not an option for me, so I’m going to have to ride this one out and try to stay strong and alert so I am not drawn in any more. I think secretly she wants out too, but because we have shared so many secrets together we are both frightened that we will hurt the other by walking away so, stupid as it may sound, it has been easier to stay in this warped ‘romance’ and endure the crushing mental & emotional pain that comes with it every single day. If you are on the verge of getting into an emotional affair, please heed my advice and do NOT do it. I have never heard of anyone coming through these things unscathed. Stay friends, but keep your distance. I cannot emphasise enough – it is NOT worth it.

  • Marcia
    October 2, 2012 | Permalink |

    Let me explain what it’s like to be on the other end. My fiance has had a female friend he’s had before we even met. One that he’d wanted to be in a relationship with, but because of the fact that she had dated his best friend, he felt it would be unfair to date her.

    During our relationship, I realized they’d become very close. Because I didn’t want to introduce jealousy into our relationship, I said nothing for a long time. Slowly but surly, I realized he started spending more time with her and less with me. He was either calling her or running out to meet her for coffee every single weekend.

    At this point I spoke up and said that I wasn’t comfortable with this. I understood that she’s his friend and would never ask him to stop seeing her, but perhaps the three of us could get together from time to time. I thought it was important to include me as well. He refused and insisted she was just a friend. He made me feel like I was controlling and just insecure. He even convinced me that I was just being insecure.

    Then the lies came. She’d call, I’d see her name on his phone as it rang and he wouldn’t answer it when I was around. Minutes later, he’d pretend he needed something from the store and run out to call her. He was reluctant to go anywhere if there was a possibility that we’d bump into her together.

    Then it occurred to me – the only reason he isn’t with her is because she dated his good friend. In reality, he was in love with her. My gut told me all along, but I ignored it.

    Sometimes I feel like an emotional affair is worse than a physical affair. It’s not just about sex, your partner has emotionally departed your relationship and has feelings for someone else. It’s the biggest slap in the face and the most hurtful thing that could happen in a relationship. I felt betrayed and emotionally shattered. I knew there was something going on, but he would never admit it.

    After 4 years this relationship, where I took care of his ailing father, became an emotional crutch to so many of his family members, supported his business and broke my back trying to make him happy, I told him he either needed to stop talking to her or watch me walk out the door.

    She was too important to him… he choose to watch me walk out the door instead. I was that dispensable.

  • Niki
    February 11, 2013 | Permalink |

    i hold my hands up to be guilty to this one, but for some reason the friend in question was just easier to talk to and open up to which i lacked in my partner at the time, i will admit after breaking up with the partner i wanted alot more from my friend in which he rejected me, but i still feel that i can be open and always go to him for advice when needed and i also still enjoy his company, some of the examples above can go towards one of ur friends of the same sex, its not exactly a emotional fair it can sometimes mean that you have a connection and a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it all depends on wether ur partner trusts u enough to not go beyond being just close friends, lets face it alot of people cant tell and talk to their partners about everything we all need other people for that sometimes

  • Rose
    May 12, 2013 | Permalink |

    I didn’t know I was having an emotional affair until I managed to drunkenly confess an attraction to this friend. I wasn’t expecting to come out with it I just did and then it exaggerated everything like an explosion. It was very exciting, embarrassing, guilt ridden and horrifying as I have a boyfriend of 9 years. And this ‘friend’ is actually one of my boyfriend’s best friends! Doh! What an idiot.
    I pretty much experienced all of the signs mentioned above and the feelings gradually worsened over time. I have always found him physically attractive. I did try to talk to him less and consciously made an effort to avoid him at times although this never worked as I either couldn’t keep it up or he would seem to make more effort to engage me. I thought we had a connection but I think it’s all in my head. It’s straining my relationship so much and has shocked me as I am a very loyal person and (so is the best friend). I also love my boyfriend and we are heading towards marriage.
    We both know the best thing for everyone is to ignore these feelings and I am going to avoid him as much as I can. It did start out as a few friendly conversations and Iinnocently thought I was being ‘helpful’ at first by offering some female advice now and again as he has not been in a relationship for some time and this is when we started getting closer. I wish I hadn’t said anything but it has shocked me into action to improve my own life and relationship. I am finding it hard to accept that we probably won’t chat anymore as it is like an addiction and I crave him but a few nice chats and some sexual tension are not worth jeopardising a loving relationship. I have scared myself so much. I think women can just be friends with some men, there is not always a physical attraction but it’s dangerous when there is.

  • bea
    June 15, 2013 | Permalink |

    When did this “emotional affair” terminology start? From these “signs,” it sounds like the steps leading up to an affair.
    But.
    While this article is actually pretty clear about the boundaries, I’m seeing a lot of discussion about how emotional affairs are pretty much any relationship you have with a member of the opposite sex that’s not your partner, and that bugs me. I am female, married for 22 years, I have male friends. I have male friends who I’ve flirted with, I have male friends with whom there was absolutely no spark, and I have never been unfaithful to my husband. So when I read things telling me I’m having an emotional affair because I have a close relationship with a man not my husband, I wonder why people are so eager to label any interaction between the sexes as some kind of forbidden intimacy.
    God forbid people have friends.

  • Nicole
    July 2, 2013 | Permalink |

    Is this for real? Substitute your best girl friend for your “emotional affair” and see how many of these “signs” they check of the list… My husband can check off 8 of them for golf… this is just another way to make women feel guilty for having a life outside of their family.

  • Lizzie
    July 30, 2013 | Permalink |

    My boyfriend had an emotional affair with a co worker 3 years ago. It was so bad he would talk with her on his way to work and back, buy her groceries (to take care of her and her kids), he would never talk about her (cause he knew I suspected the affair), he would sneak wine from the house to give to her and get crazy defensive when I questioned any of his actions. He swore there was nothing until I left him, and he admitted to the affair. I eventually took him back and guess what? Another employee and same thing happening all over again. He swears its nothing, but then gets very defensive and tries to swing the guilt back on me. He has started deleting his phone log information just on her-and keeps parts of text on his phone to throw me off the scent…yes it’s so bad I started to check his phone. This new chick is posting on Facebook the flowers he has sent her (just to brighten her day), and her updates to her status are about how a man can love more than one woman. It’s sickening….and once again he thinks by keeping me in the dark I am not aware of the emotional affair.

  • Caroh
    August 21, 2013 | Permalink |

    emotional affair was about to ruin my relationship…thank God i came upon this atticle.nw i knw whr to stand.

  • kay
    December 28, 2013 | Permalink |

    Whilst I agree you can have strong emotional relationships with the opposite sex, you can talk and flirt and it can be fine, so long as you are honest with yourself and your partner as to how far its gone. When you start hiding your friend or keeping your partner away from them, arranging secret meet ups and exchanging silly gifts, even if the other woman is married with kids it is still an affair and can leave your partner bitter, jealous, and heartbroken. Having had a partner who has has several emotional affairs which he justifies by saying I’m not worthy of his affection or “we are past that stage of our relationship” he “tried”to care more after his first affair went sour, but instead of trying he waited for me to “improve” and ended up chatting to another woman instead, who feel she is qualified to give advice on our relationship despite the fact she has never met me and has based her opinion on my other halfs description of my faults, errors in judgement and his deliberate misunderstanding of some of my actions. He seems proud of the fact “they aren’t shagging” yet fails to see the deep emotional scars his indifference and put downs have made.

  • kim hendricks
    January 13, 2014 | Permalink |

    I have my man/bestfriend.together over a yr now. He has a female friend who he liked before. They hungout at a tim hortons recently. I noticed that he seems a bit withdrawn from me.i asked him if he likes her now, he replies with I dont know? Could he be emotionally cheating on me?

  • RedFoxylady
    January 24, 2014 | Permalink |

    I can relate to all of the above signs and am in the middle of something that I cannot break away from.
    I have been very close friends with a married couple for the past 4 years, we have socialised together a lot and are part of a small group of close friends.
    Over the past 2 years I have spent a lot more time with the husband and I started to notice small things, like catching him staring at me, finding excuses to see me and paying a lot of attention to me, even when his wife is around. I have found myself thinking about him, being jealous, making eye contact etc. His wife actually seems to encourage us to spend more time together and has said to me on a number of occasions , that he cares about me and if it was anyone else apart from me then she would be very worried!
    Now this just freaked me out, and I have tried to distance myself but I can’t.
    Over the past 6 months things have intensified-he has called me a number of times at night, when she has been out and on one occasion our chat turned into a discussion of sexual fantasies, and it became a very intimate call, although he kept himself removed from it and did not see himself involved apart from being on the sidelines in my fantasy. This happened a couple more times, then the last 3 occasions it has suddenly become about us together, nobody else involved and they have become very sexually intimate conversations.
    We have both admitted how we feel, he keeps saying things like it would be too dangerous for this to happen in reality, how things can never go any further between us and how he feels bad and is sorry.
    Each time I try to step away but I am not strong enough, I do not want to lose his friendship and definitely not his wife’s friendship, but I realise that I have feelings for him and that although re have only been intimate “remotely” I want more and I am scared that it is only a matter of time before this becomes something more.
    I know it’s wrong, I know what we are doing is bad an could cause so much pain but right now I can’t stop how I feel.

  • WRGiant44
    February 24, 2014 | Permalink |

    I can understand the reluctance and trepidation to admit that these steps can be harmful, or that it can apply to mundane things such as a golf game. But the bottom line is, if you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, you need to be willing to allow them to help set the boundaries in terms of what you can do and not do with other members of the opposite sex – and honor their opinion if they inform you that they are not comfortable with certain things you are doing.

    I am a HUGE believer in joint friendships with other couples, and with people seeking out friends their own age. But the line that crosses over into a true emotional affair is so hidden and so insidious, that often-times people are in these affairs before they realized that what they were doing was wrong.

    But at some point, if it is truly an emotional affair, it will become clear, even to you. You will keep moving the boundaries of acceptable behavior back further and further – and closer and closer to a full-blown sexual relationship – even if you are convinced you will never fully consummate that step. In any case, your heart will “be with that person” – not your spouse.

    That was my wife, 1 1/2 years ago. Our marriage barely, barely survived it. .

  • ParagonSweetie
    April 14, 2014 | Permalink |

    I am finally with the girl I have loved for nearly 2 years, she has opened up to her feelings which we both knew were there and I feel privileged to finally have her, our relationship is two weeks fresh.
    However, I have a female friend who I got close to at a couple of parties in the space of 3 months prior to my current relationship; after kissing her at the first, she helped me get through coming clean to my-then-girlfriend and gradually the text conversations between became long, often flirty, sometimes dirty. I came clean to my girlfriend, told her I didn’t want to carry on, that she didn’t deserve me and I couldn’t cope with the remorse.
    At the next party, I kissed this close friend of mine several times, a mix of alcohol and testosterone fuelling my attraction to her.
    Realising sexual tension with this friend, much more eye contact when together, flirty conversations, I began to tell her my deepest secrets. At the time, I was still reeling from the split of my dad and step-mum, I felt real bad for cheating on the gorgeous loyal girlfriend of mine I began to self-harm, fell into depression, and I’m suicidal. I’ve turned to this friend for support, and upon a member of our friendship group asking if I fancied this girl, it struck me perhaps I did, though I didn’t crave her attention for there was still awkwardness from the drunk kissing…! so that attraction didn’t form, I wouldn’t like to date her
    Now, a few weeks into a new relationship, thinking of all the emotional support I’ve received from this friend, I stumbled upon this article, realised at least 10 of the signs were evident in my actions and thoughts.
    My point – this emotional affair has been established from trading secrets, just talking too often and I’m scared it’s distracting me from my partner, however i’d never be able to let this girl go as a friend as she has helped me through so much, it is so difficult, but thankfully seeing these signs and reading the comments I know what to be wary of!

  • Tony
    April 22, 2014 | Permalink |

    I’m a guy that is now divorced. My ex had feelings for a player that were never admitted to. I on the outside noticed the change. I went away for a weekend and that was the beginning of the end. I spent the next two years asking myself what went on and never got an answer. I wish I had read something like this at the time. I wouldn’t have had any questions. The signs were there for all to see. I didn’t want to believe what I was feeling at the time. We had kids and had only been married 2 years before this emotional cheating came along and flattened our relationship. Years on, my ex is an alcoholic, drug user and suffers from many promiscuous moments, basically a train crash. She has no feeling no drive nothing to look forward too anymore. I feel sorry for her, that being weak enough to be manipulated it has ruined her life. Hope she doesn’t make that mistake again. The first recollection of this was Chris Tarrant who had an emotional affair but didn’t let it get physical, thought he had fallen in love, I think it broke his wife’s heart. And their marriage. So for those who don’t believe this, beware! Loving someone that thinks they’re in love (in mind) with someone else, hurts more than you would think!

  • karleen8982
    July 6, 2014 | Permalink |

    So happy I cam across this!

  • Luna rose
    July 14, 2014 | Permalink |

    My husband was involed in an emotional afiar for about 6 months with a co-worker. We have been married for 10 year and have 1 child. He told me about it about it and says for me to ask any questions I have. She no longer works there however she has came by his work twice to see other co-workers and he does talk to her. He says it is nice to see her and talk to her but can’t tell me why….? My husband and I have reconnected and are closer than ever. The other girl has a boyfriend now, I just want him to forget about her completely. Will this ever happen?

  • Lolo
    September 19, 2014 | Permalink |

    My husband had an emotional affair with a married woman who was already cheating on her husband. This person made my life miserable, it got to the point she told my husband she didn’t want me around and he asked me to go on “vacation” I found out and confront her. This same person “influenced”him to have an actual affair with an ex classmate he didn’t see for about 32 years. I went through public humiliation, emails where they spoke so badly about me. For my experience, if you have this type of person around, you need to tell your partner about getting rid of his /her friend or your relationship should be over. This people aren’t friends but voltures

  • donna
    December 10, 2014 | Permalink |

    For the people who say, “what’s it hurting, its not like you’re having sex with them.” I want to say, among other things, an emotional affair hurts way worse then a sexual affair EVER could, in my opinion. It hurts because sex is sex and lots of people do that casually, but in this type of affair you give part of your heart. Emotional affairs, if not stopped, almost always lead to physical affairs. My husband had am emotional affair with my so~ called best friend. I always heard that it hurt worse then a physical affair, but never believed it. Now I do100%. I wish to God he had only slept with her, but he gave her emotions and feelings that were meant for ME. The recovery from an emotional affair is NO different then any other kind of affair.

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