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Emotional Cheating and 10 Bad Things It Can Do to You

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Emotional cheating is more common than you think. But before you slip into one without thinking, read about the 10 bad things it can do to you. By Natalia Avdeeva

emotional cheating

You may hold a high moral ground and believe that you’ll never ever cheat on your partner.

But just when you least expect it, you may find yourself cheating emotionally.

It happens all the time.

If you enjoy spending time with your friend more than your own partner, well, you’re probably on the verge of cheating emotionally.

[Read: 18 sure signs you’re having an emotional affair already and don’t know it!]

What is emotional cheating?

When one thinks of a cheating scenario, the first image that flashes in the mind is a man with his trousers around his ankles and a woman on a bed who’s holding a sheet, trying really hard to cover her modesty.

But over time, we’ve come to realize that having sex with someone outside the marriage isn’t the only way to cheat.

Unknown to many, the most common kind of cheating that couples experience almost all the time is emotional cheating.

If you feel more emotionally connected and closer to someone else than your own partner, you’re probably emotionally cheating on your partner already.

[Read: What should you do when you start to fall in love with someone else?]

Are close friendships really emotional cheating?

It’s always good to have a few friends that you can trust and depend on when you need a shoulder because you can’t isolate yourself and revolve your entire life around your partner. And having a confidante to share your views and thoughts will always give you the space in a relationship to have your own life too.

But there’s a very thin line between emotional cheating and sharing a close bond with someone of the opposite sex.

And almost always, this thin line is too blurry to ever notice the difference between friendship and an affair.

If you find yourself getting addicted to this friend, be it a coworker or an old friend from college, and you like spending more time with them than your own partner, that’s not good news for your love life.

The relationship you share with a friend of the opposite sex could be purely platonic, but if talking about this friendship with your partner makes you feel awkward, or if you try to hide a few details now and then, chances are, you’ll falling for this friend emotionally. [Read: 10 steps to have a purely platonic friendship with a charming friend]

Cheating emotionally and your love life

As exciting and refreshing as spending time with your new best friend could feel, if you ever start to feel like you’re craving to be with this friend or if you spend a lot of time smiling to yourself and recollecting fond memories of the friendly special times,  you need to look into the mirror and confront yourself.

You do realize you’re emotionally falling for someone else, don’t you?

The 10 bad things emotional cheating will bring into your life

You can live a secret life where you dress up to impress your *friend* or have hushed conversations with them after your partner’s asleep. But at some point in time, you need to ask yourself if you even realize what you’re doing.

It’s easy to be selfish when you’re having fun. But try to keep in mind these 10 things that emotional cheating can bring into your life. And at times, there may never be a happy ending in sight too. [Read: Love triangles and its confusing complications]

#1 You’ll start to lead two lives. Having an emotional affair will force you to live two lives. On one hand, you’ll try to focus on your own lover. And on the other hand, you’ll try extremely hard to spend a lot of time with your friend.

And as your partner and your friend probably don’t know each other, you’ll have to make time for both of them. And almost all the time, you’ll leave one of them feeling hurt.

#2 You lose focus at work. When you get infatuated by someone, you can’t help but spend all day dreaming about them or replaying visions of the happy moments both of you have had together. And because of this, cheating emotionally on your partner can affect your work life in two ways.

Firstly, you’ll spend a lot of time chatting with your friend and ignoring your work because it’s the only time you get away from your partner. And secondly, you can’t daydream at home because your partner’s around all the time, so you spend a big part of your office hours whiling away your time fantasizing about this friend. [Read: 15 reasons why you're getting bored with your relationship]

#3 You start to take your partner for granted. When you get addicted to someone new, you can’t help but push the one you already love just a little further away from your heart. Your partner won’t understand why you’re neglecting them all of a sudden.

And for the first time in a long time, you’ll start to test your partner and expect them to pamper you and treat you better even though you’re not reciprocating the same behavior. In your mind, you’re trying to compare your lover and your friend to see who’s a better wooer of you.

#4 A lot of petty fights. When you start cheating emotionally, petty fights in your love life will be inevitable. Your partner will hate your behavior because they can’t understand you and your subtle secrecy anymore. And they’ll think you’ve changed because you’re not giving enough back into the relationship to ensure its happiness. [Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your life]

#5 Your life will stop moving ahead. You’ll forget about all your goals or ambitions that you’ve worked on for so long. Your life will be put on hold and you’ll start to live in a fantasy world where your friend pops into your happy fantasies all the time.

Nothing else would matter to you other than thinking of ways to be with this friend. You’ll be completely smitten by this friend of yours and you’ll spend a lot of time plotting ways to spend more time with them. But since you spend a lot of time convincing yourself that both of you are just friends, you won’t even realize how much you’re messing your own life up.

#6 You’ll be frustrated. You’re neither here nor there. You’re in a relationship with one person where you’re happy, but you’re addicted to someone else who makes you happier. You can’t name the relationship you have with this special friend and that annoys you and confuses you. And somewhere deep inside, as much as you want it, you know you can’t have them both. [Read: Are you in love with two people at the same time?]

#7 You’ll destroy your existing romance. This is inevitable when you cheat emotionally in love. Even if your partner is a perfect lover, you’d start to convince yourself that your partner’s neglect and indifference towards you is the reason behind why you’re falling for someone else emotionally.

You’ll plot, ponder and create flaws in your partner just to give a reason for your attraction towards your friend. And these flaws you create in your mind about your own partner will never ever go away. After all, when you pick a flaw in someone, you’ll never be able to see them in the same happy light again.

#8 Your priorities change overnight. You may think you’ve not changed, but all of a sudden, your partner would start to feel like a stranger who doesn’t understand you anymore. You’d get annoyed with your partner and their behavior all the time. You may even intentionally pick fights with your lover to give yourself more space so you can get consoled by your special friend. [Read: The big question - To cheat or not to cheat?]

#9 Guilt wouldn’t give you any peace of mind. When you’re cheating emotionally, you’ll feel guilty for what you’re doing. But at the same time, you’ll helplessly be drawn deeper into the web of emotional infidelity, and that makes you feel guiltier for having mixed feelings for two people at the same time. And to shove the guilt under the carpet, you’ll start distancing yourself from your own partner emotionally. [Read: Is flirting really cheating when you're in a relationship?]

#10 You’ll become a liar. You may believe that honesty truly matters in a perfect relationship. But when you realize you’re getting emotionally attracted to someone else, you’ll find yourself walking on eggshells all the time, trying to conceal your real feelings about this friend to your partner.

You may avoid talking about your friend altogether, you may lie about why you have to stay back at work, or you may make excuses and lie to your partner just to meet this friend over a weekend. But all said and done, you’ll turn into a compulsive liar who’s lies will only get bigger with time.

[Quiz: Will you ever cheat on your partner? P.S. This quiz won't lie.]

Emotional cheating, as exciting as it may seem now, will only hurt you over time. After all, once you cross that thin line of emotional infidelity, there’s no way you can come out of it without a painful scar.


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Have your say!
  • Michelle
    November 16, 2012 | Permalink |

    I’m an emotional cheater, I’ve always known that. My husband loves me and really takes care of me. But there’s there really sweet guy who works with me. I spend more time with the guy from work, and inevitably, we ended up getting really close. The first person I want to share something with is the guy from work, not my husband. Without realizing it, I even dress up to work wondering what my coworker friend would think of me and whether he would like it.

    I feel so guilty about it, and I just don’t know what to do. This guy from work sits next to me, what do I even say? “Hey, don’t talk to me!” That doesn’t make sense, we’re not having an affair. He’s happily married too, and there’s never been any sexual chemistry between us. I’m so confused, because all these things mentioned here seem to be happening to me.

    Had I not read these signs, I wouldn’t even have realized the bad things this kind of relationship does. I’m really thankful to you guys. I find myself lying all the time because I feel so awkward about this relationship, and I’m so confused too. I need both these men in my life.

  • Anon
    February 26, 2013 | Permalink |

    Michelle, I can only thank you for your honesty. The fact of the matter is, emotional cheating is the only kind of cheating I could ever accept in anyone because it is the only kind where you are not making a conscious choice to screw your partner over. You can’t help how you feel towards people, only how you act on those feelings. I know, though, that when your feelings are conflicted and confusing, it can be difficult to know what to do.

    Particularly considering that you are married, I honestly can’t say what you should do. We all have the tendency to grass-is-greener thinking, and if you allowed this relationship to cross the lines into something more, the potential for heartbreak, damage and ruined lives would be immense. It is easy to get taken away by the thrill of something novel. Still, this is not something that can be easily dismissed. I no longer buy into the model that our significant other should be our Everything. But at the very least, the bond of trust, honesty and emotional intimacy shared should be at the kind of level where you can comfortably discuss any such issues.

    I know you’re in a very grey area. I have learned from personal experience that I’m not as understanding about some things as I would have liked to think, and I am highly sensitive to hurt on a subconscious level even when I try to understand it intellectually. If you would take my input I would at the very least discuss your feelings with the person you are with and try to cool things down, and I also think you and your husband perhaps need some time to yourselves so you can broach this matter tactfully. Maybe you don’t have to do it directly, but if you can figure out what the other person is providing you that you feel is lacking in your marriage, you will know where better to start from to try to overcome this.

    Whatever happens, know that I wish you the best. I am glad people like you exist; I can still feel some degree of empathy towards the internal struggles of people with morals and integrity.

  • Ali
    January 7, 2014 | Permalink |

    I can so relate to this article. I have been with my boyfriend for just over 4 years. And up until a month ago I thought this was the happiest I could be with a man. And then this guy comes into my work, and instantly sparks fly. Nothing comes of it though.. We just talk when we see each other… Then this guy gives me his number… And I may have failed to mention my bf previously to this guy because I was enjoying this flirty chemistry and I didn’t think anything further would ever happen. But then god damn he gives me his number and for some reason I just couldn’t say no. Now I know I put myself in a stupid predicament for sure and so I text the guy and I tell him that I have a boyfriend and that we can only be friends. This guy keeps on texting me though and we get along so well . I know it’s wrong because I don’t want to tell my boyfriend about this guy friend:..
    What I am wondering though, is it wrong to have a mini crush on this guy friend.?
    Now a little side note or begginning story I should add: it was a huge struggle to get where we have gotten., my boyfriend and I… He has done things to hurt me as well, like befriend one of my childhood Friends and kept it a secret for months, him and her were in the same classes and it was weird cause we would all hang out and neither of them ever mentioned beig friends at all.. I found out because we broke up one night out of the blue and I couldn’t figure out why so I creeped his facebook for the first and the last time ever and when I asked him about it he lied and said that that was te first time they ever messaged each other. So I dropped it even though I knew they talked much more then that… Then further down the road he starts working at a bar and he keeps lying to me about befriending a girl he works with, It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to tell me that he gave her rides home after work. I did not understand why he lied to me about those things, he said I couldn’t handle the truth. And it validated it for him cause yah I freaked out, but I was mad he wouldn’t tell me the truth. I still
    Don’t know if he ever cheated on me. I trust that he hasn’t though because who am I to assume that of him. But now fastforward to where we are now. Am I being a hypocrite for talking to this guy and not telling my bf . I feel like how do I know what matters more? : how we got to where we are now? Or is it how we are doing now? Talking to this new guy is making me seriously consider whether I have made the right choices. If I pushed my boyfriend too much into our relationship at first and that’s why he was outlashing? Do I deserve to be in the predicament I have put myself in now..

  • Nicole
    January 9, 2014 | Permalink |

    I need help in this area quite a bit. My husband and I started out like any other normal husband and wife, happy and in love but slowly things went down hill… if I had to be honest: 1. I see my husband more and a good friend than my husband. 2. we aren’t intimate in the least bit I want to blame him by saying it’s all him since he doesnt try but I’m sure there is fault in myself. 3.If i could go back I would just be his friend. I recently met a guy online who lives close to myself. He’s really sweet and I made sure to tell him the situation, in return he said he may be getting friend zoned but he would like to try it. I have yet to meet this guy irl, we mainly txt. But I’m slightly freaking out for multiple reasons. these reasons being, i have no idea if I can support myself without my husbands finances. I have no idea if i’m being trolled by the ‘nice guy’. to name a few…

  • Aaron
    January 29, 2014 | Permalink |

    This sounds exactly like how my ex was behaving with her acrobatic partner in the last 4-5 months of our relationship. But she asked me to trust her with him, assured me they were just friends, then ‘best friends’, then it was suddenly her dream to join the circus, then she broke up with me, got together with him, and ran off and joined the circus together.

    Never been more hurt and betrayed in my life.

  • Karinna
    April 19, 2014 | Permalink |

    If you ever cheated or have been cheated on, it is time for you to move on.When you accept phone numbers and text messages, it is something missing in your relationship with your current partner. You also have to consider what type of relationship you want…if you can forgive, it is great, if not, move on. Life is too short to be unhappy,

  • Me
    May 1, 2014 | Permalink |

    My ex I broke up with because of this. He started talking to his ex again (which I was fine with at first as I didn’t realize there was feelings between them still) and he was adamant the whole time that they were just friends and he wouldn’t cheat on me… BUT he hid that he was meeting up with her, would stay out with her late until like 4 am, told me he still loved her and always would, that I could never ask for them to stop being friends, never told her he had a gf and then told me he did tell her about me, wouldn’t let me meet her… etc. So even if he did never physically cheat on me (which I don’t know) with his choices he completely disrespected me and emotionally was choosing her over me… So I ended it… but I was angry that he put me in a situation where I had to do that.

  • Saben
    May 26, 2014 | Permalink |

    Im not sure what todo I guess, my wife spends most her time on the phone or facebook,started talking to a ex about two weeks ago and he sent her a pic ofem in his boxers, she says its nothing, we havent been getting along an its hard to talk to her she gets deffensive , what do I do, move on, she just wont get off the phone or try, we have 3 kids n its hard to just quit, but she is a different person now, we both t I think.

  • Jane
    June 22, 2014 | Permalink |

    What’s wrong with me? No emotion with this new friend of mine.. other than passion. Crazy electric sexual energy. Both of us married with families. Agree would never leave our spouses… it isn’t emotional like that at all! It’s truly they don’t like sex and we do…. we’re happier at home because we’re fulfilled sexually. Hmmm. ????

  • Laura
    August 10, 2014 | Permalink |

    My man lied to me about porn sites he had been visiting. Then tries to get me to watch two lesbians having sex. Come to find out he’s been doing it all along. I’m broken cause he’s lied to me numerous times.

  • Sue
    September 23, 2014 | Permalink |

    I went through my bf of 3 years’ phone and found a conversation between him and another woman. He requested she send pictures to him (she did, one being naked), the conversation was very flirty, sexual even. She lives very far so I am unsure how likely it is they would meet, however he did state he would like too at some point. I confronted him and he said it was banter, that they had met in a club and he asked for her number and that nothing would have come from it.

    I thought we were really happy together (I know I was), we practically live together. We didn’t argue as such and we had just decided to move into together. I am obviously very hurt and ended our relationship soon after, as I know he can’t be trusted. However, he has been so remorseful since that I am wondering whether I should give him a second chance?

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