Emotional Affair: What It Is, 76 Signs & Steps, 7 Infidelity Stages & What To Do

Do you know the signs of an emotional affair? If not, you might not know if your partner is having one—or even yourself. Here’s how to know for sure.

emotional affair infidelity cheating

What is emotional cheating? And what are the signs of an emotional affair? Well, it isn’t cheating in the classic sense, but it is still a big problem. 

Emotional cheating isn’t as well known, or looked down on, as physical cheating, but when your partner falls in love with someone else, it can ruin your relationship.

You don’t want that, especially if you want your relationship to work. So, here are the things that you need to know about emotional affairs.

What is an emotional affair?

To understand why an emotional affair is wrong, or why it even happens, we need to understand what it means to be in an emotional affair.

An emotional affair is nonsexual. It may move to that sexual stage, but in essence, an emotional affair is a deep and intimate connection you have with someone outside of your relationship. 

This connection is deeper than a regular friendship and is on par with, if not deeper than, the connection you have with your partner.

[Read: To cheat or not to cheat? A guide to making up your mind]

At first glance, it doesn’t look so bad. But consider this – your partner is wondering why you’ve suddenly disconnected from them. They’re worried and upset. When they find out, they will feel hurt and betrayed.

That’s why an emotional affair is bad. For many people, an emotional affair is considered worse than having a one-night stand with someone else. Neither is particularly good, but when feelings are involved, it just goes to another level. 

Why emotional cheating happens

Now that you know what an emotional affair is, you might wonder why it happens. Well, there are several reasons, including:

1. Unmet needs

Everyone has needs. And in an ideal world, all of them would be met when in a romantic relationship or marriage. But that doesn’t always happen. [Read: Dreams about cheating – What they mean and why you don’t have to panic]

So, maybe one partner’s sexual or emotional needs aren’t being met. Or they are starved for affection. If they happen to meet someone else who gives them those things, then they might be prone to having an emotional affair with them.

2. Insular marriages

Sometimes people can feel isolated in their marriage. Perhaps their spouse is abusive or just doesn’t want them to have a social life outside the relationship.

In this case, then it’s not uncommon for the person who feels isolated to find someone online and start talking to them just to have social interaction outside the relationship. [Read: Microcheating – what it is & signs you’re unintendedly doing it]

The more this interaction goes on, the more likely it could turn into an emotional affair.

3. Seeking revenge

If one partner already cheated, either physically or emotionally, then the other might feel like getting revenge. They might appear to have forgiven the cheater, but maybe they really haven’t.

So, the one who was cheated on might purposely or accidentally seek out someone to have an emotional affair with. They feel the need to hurt their partner and make them suffer just like they did when they were cheated on.

How common is emotional cheating?

Emotional cheating is very common. In fact, one study showed that 78.6% of men and 91.6% of women admitted to having an emotional affair at some point in their relationship. 

As you can see, almost everyone is having some sort of emotional affair.

Women may be having more emotional affairs than men because men are more likely to cheat physically. Men tend to have more physical needs whereas women have more emotional ones. [Read: What should you do when you start to fall in love with someone else?]

Are close friendships an emotional affair?

It’s always good to have a few friends that you can trust and depend on because you can’t rely on your partner for all of your emotional needs.

But there’s a very thin line between an emotional affair 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 too close to this friend, 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 fall for this friend emotionally.

7 stages of emotional affairs to look out for

The number of emotional affairs which end in divorce is pretty depressing. That really does show you how difficult this type of situation is to overcome as a couple. [Read: Affair fog – How to know if your lover is under another’s spell]

So, what leads to that point? What are those deadly stages of emotional affairs so you can know for sure just how deep in you already are? Read on to find out:

Stage 1 – They feel unappreciated or not good enough 

At the start, usually, one partner feels somehow unappreciated in the relationship. They may also feel like they’re not playing their part or providing as much as they should.

This inadequacy can cause problems to crop up, and it can cause them to turn on their partner, perhaps with resentment starting to boil to the surface.

Stage 2 – The sex goes out of the relationship 

Okay, so sex isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it is important for a couple to stay connected. As a couple, you need to make sure you’re focusing on sexual intimacy as one of your top priorities.

In this stage, one partner feels that they aren’t getting enough sex within the relationship, and they feel deprived. As a result, they may go looking for it somewhere else. Unfortunately, that can lead them towards an emotional connection instead.

[Read: The lack of sex in a relationship – Why it happens & what it means]

Stage 3 – You start to feel like best friends rather than romantic partners

It happens to the best of us at some point, but it’s vital that you spot the signs and do something about them before problems arise. 

If your romantic relationship has become boring, if you feel like siblings or friends, then it’s important that you try and spice things up and reconnect.

Usually, emotional affairs start when the romance goes out of the relationship. So try going on date nights or heating things up.

Stage 4 – One partner is too busy for the other one

If one partner feels like the other one doesn’t have time for them, they’re going to become fed up pretty quickly.

Without a doubt, one of the most hurtful stages of emotional affairs is when a partner wants to talk, but they’re not heard. Perhaps they’re going through a hard time, but they can’t find that support from their partner. 

When this happens, they seek this support from another person, albeit completely innocently at first. But an emotional connection is formed. [Read: How do guys get emotionally attached?]

Stage 5 – One partner is demanding too much of the other

We all go through stressful times in life, and it can often lead us to shut off from our partners. If the other partner is complaining, making demands, and not understanding what the other might be going through, this can easily lead to a major rift.

It’s vital that you check in with each other frequently. Avoid placing unnecessary demands on your partner. Instead, work towards achieving things together. [Read: 15 reasons and signs why an emotional connection is so important]

The problem is that if someone is already in the middle of an emotional affair, this type of behavior is just going to push them toward the other person even more. They start to feel like it’s not worth it anymore, that they’re getting more support from the other person.

Stage 6 – The guilt kicks in

By this point, the other partner likely suspects that something isn’t quite right. This may lead them towards ultimatums or trying to keep their partner with offers of sex or with clingy behavior.

The partner having the emotional affair feels guilty, and this eats away at them. That leads them towards more arguments. It’s a vicious circle that, unfortunately, only ends in tears. [Read: Emotional cheating and the bad things it can do to a relationship]

Stage 7 – Breaking point 

The final stage is the point when either the partner breaks things off with the person they’ve been seeing and decides to dedicate themselves to their relationship, or they decide to leave the relationship. 

However, the damage has already been done, and the road back is extremely long. Can you ever trust your partner again? Can they forgive themselves? 

[Read: Why are affairs so hard to end?]

Signs you’re having an emotional affair

Whether you want to know if the platonic friendship you’ve formed has crossed the line into emotional affair territory or if you suspect that your partner has connected with someone a little too much, it’s important to know the signs.

1. Behavior changes

You’re generally very friendly and touchy with this friend of yours. But subconsciously, both of you keep some distance from each other when your lover is around.

Why? If you don’t have anything to hide, why would your behavior change? [Read: Platonic friendship: What it is, 42 friend rules & ways to avoid sexual drama]

2. Excitement when the other person is around

A big sign you’re having an emotional affair is when you feel excited to share new thoughts or ideas with this friend, be it your review of a movie you just watched or gossip about another coworker or classmate.

If anything interesting happens in your life, they’re the first person you want to share the news with, not your partner. [Read: 46 must-dos to rebuild & regain trust after cheating in a relationship]

3. A need to stay in touch

Do you ever feel incomplete or like something’s missing when you don’t speak to your friend for a day or two? Even when you’re on vacation, do your thoughts drift and leave you wondering what your friend is up to *or worse, do you wish they were around*? 

If thinking of them is distracting you, it could signify that you have already made an emotional investment in that person.

4. Secrets shared

Do you share your innermost secrets with this friend? You may be confiding in someone about your personal problems that even your partner doesn’t know about. And the weird thing, 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. This is not a good sign if you are confiding solely in this person, even about your partner.

[Read: How to forgive a cheater – questions to face the betrayal]

5. A need for their attention

Maybe 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. There could be some deniability that it’s just an infatuation versus an emotional affair, but it could be something more. 

6. It’s an addiction

Your attraction to this new person feels like an addiction. Both of you feel really happy to meet each other after a long weekend. 

And you feel like you’ve missed out on a good time if you don’t get to spend some time talking to this friend. In essence, you always yearn for closeness with this person.

If you miss this person more than you miss your partner when you’re not together, that’s a sign your friendship is bordering on an emotional affair.

7. Arousal

If you feel good talking about your own intimate sexual details with your friend and it somehow arouses you, there’s clearly an emotional affair in the making already. And chances are, it will lead to something more as well.

Though it’s not always the case, an emotional affair may involve sex. 

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 body that is touching each other.

We all find people attractive. But when that goes beyond, and there already is some sexual attraction that makes you question or doubt your primary relationship, it could be a sign of an emotional affair.

9. Regular flirting

You don’t always realize it, but there are a lot of flirty conversations when both of you are alone.

Other people around you may even comment on how in sync or cozy you seem. People could even mistake you for a couple. [Read: Friendly vs flirty: 34 signs to tell if someone is flirting with you]

10. A need to make a good impression

If you always find yourself dressing up better when you’re meeting up with this friend, it is a sign that you have some deeper and problematic emotional ties to this friend.

You may not see this as a sign of an inappropriate emotional affair in the making, but you always try to look your best when you see this person.

[Read: What is considered cheating? The painful types & ways to set boundaries]

11. Compliments

If you’re having an emotional affair with a friend, chances are you take their compliments pretty seriously.

If your friend tells you that you look prettier with your hair styled a particular way or that red looks beautiful on you, you feel butterflies in your stomach. And you follow up by wearing your hair that way or wearing red more often.

12. A secret soulmate?

This affair partner 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.

This is usually a temporary fluke because something in your relationship isn’t quite right. But feeling like this is a major sign of an emotional affair.

13. Sacrifices are made

You’d be willing to make huge sacrifices just to make more time for your friend. You could stay up the whole night just to talk to your friend after your partner is asleep.

Or you could leave your place and head to work an hour early so you can spend more time with your friend.

14. Together time

You spend more time with someone else 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. [Read: Online cheating and how people cheat without realizing it]

15. Fantasies

Your friend pops into your sexual fantasies all the time. You’re imagining the things that you could do if you are alone together. 

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. 

This is a big sign of an emotional affair and should really push you to take action.

16. Downplaying

Whenever you speak about this friend with your partner, you talk about this friend like they’re not important at all. That’s if you even speak about this friend with your partner at all!

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: Gaslighting – What it is, how it works, and 22 signs to spot it ASAP]

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

Either you and your friend avoid talking about each other’s partners too much or you do nothing but complain about them. 

It’s a subtle way of reassuring each other that even though both of you are in relationships with other people, there’s still something special about your emotional relationship. [Read: 19 steps & must-knows to fall out of love when you see no happy future]

But there is never an excuse for talking negatively about a partner with someone else. If you have issues with your partner, talk to them and try and solve them. 

When you talk to another person and ‘badmouth’ your partner, explaining what’s wrong and why it’s not working, are you doing this so because you’re trying to make it look like you could be available?

19. Defensiveness

Not only do you downplay your relationship with this person, but you outright deny it. You may even get angry if your partner asks about them. Even a simple question about how they’re doing might set you off because you are on edge.

When you know you’re doing something wrong, you’re sensitive about the topic and lash out.

20. Overdoing it

This is a step up from downplaying or denying that anything is happening. You may actually mock or make fun of this friend in front of your partner. You say they are gross, weird, or needy, just so your partner believes you don’t find them attractive.

This can add to your guilt because you actually like this person, so not only are you lying to your partner, but you are saying cruel things about the person you have feelings for. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and your partner]

21. Inappropriate talking

You may not have cheated physically, but an emotional affair can come with certain other inappropriate moments. Calling this person pet names like baby or sweetheart is taking things to a new level.

You aren’t just harmlessly flirting anymore. You consider this person a big part of your life and view them as a partner, even if in secret.

22. Ignoring the exisiting relationship

A sign of an emotional affair doesn’t always have to be about the affair but also about your relationship. You may be putting more energy into this other person than your partner. 

Instead of trying to fix things, you would rather hang out with this other person and put effort into that because it is new and exciting. [Read: Feeling neglected in a relationship – 20 signs, fixes, and why it hurts]

You are pulling away from your relationship, but you barely notice because you have another person occupying your time and filling that void. As the partner who is potentially being cheated on, you’ll feel a major disconnect and change. 

23. Oddly happy

Even though your relationship is falling through the cracks, you aren’t upset. You don’t feel like you’re losing something because you’ve gained something else.

If you are having problems in your relationship or even if other aspects of your life, which you probably are, friends might ask you why you seem so giddy and happy all the time.

24. Secretive

You hide your phone and emails. You don’t want your partner or anyone else scrolling through your photos. Come on… you know that’s a sign of an emotional affair!

When you’re deep in an emotional affair, you may convince yourself you’re doing nothing wrong, but deep down, you know you are, so you hide the evidence.

25. A preoccupation with this “friend”

If you find that you can’t stop thinking about the other person, you really have to question why. If this is just a friend, it’s not normal to be thinking about them constantly. 

We do this when we develop a connection that is more than just friends. [Read: In love with two people at the same time?]

26. Drawing comparisons

If you compare the two people in your life, then you have problems. Your partner is a separate entity from your friends, family, and colleagues. 

You should feel differently about them and never feel the need to compare. If you’re doing this, it’s a huge sign of an emotional affair.

27. Wandering dreams

Okay, so you don’t have total control over your dreams but if you’re thinking about this person more, especially before bed, the chances are that they’re going to pop up in your dreams. 

The more this happens, the more worrying it becomes. While you can’t totally control this, it certainly suggests that you might be in the midst of an emotional affair.

28. Butterflies

Think back to the time when you first met your partner. When you saw them or when they called you, did you have butterflies? 

If you’re feeling that way whenever this other person comes into contact with you, why is that? It’s probably because you’re building a connection. [Read: 15 signs an affair is turning into love & getting serious before you realize it

29. If the roles were reversed

Basically, if your partner were doing the exact same thing you’re doing, would you be happy about it? Would you be hurt and upset? Would you feel betrayed? 

If the answer is ‘yes’, you know why. You’re having an emotional affair, and you wouldn’t want your partner to do the same thing because it would hurt you. Stop and assess what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

30. Irritability with your partner

When you are happy when you’re around the other person but super irritable with your partner, you are probably having an emotional affair. Put simply, you want to be around the other person, and spending time with your partner is jeopardizing that. 

31. Cancelling plans to spend time with the other person

Canceling plans happens sometimes, but it should only be for a good reason. If you are canceling plans with your own partner, only to do things with the other person, you might be about to start an emotional affair.

In this case, you’re putting the needs of the other person before your partner’s, and you have to ask yourself why you think that’s okay.

32. Talking with the other person ‘out of hours’ 

There are certain times which are for couples. This could be late at night, early in the morning, on date nights, and on vacations together. 

If you are messaging another person constantly during those times you have to ask why. It’s a clear sign that you’re in an emotional affair because not ‘in the moment’ with your partner. 

33. Changes in mood

You simply don’t want to be around your partner and you’d rather be around the other person. This is probably devastating for your partner because they have no idea what they’ve done wrong or what is going on with the other person. [Read: 15 things to remember if you’re married and flirting]

Put simply, you’ve checked out emotionally and you’re extremely detached as a result.

34. Separation between partner and “friend”

You’ll go to great lengths to make sure that your partner and the other person don’t see each other. This is because you want to keep both sides of your life separate, and it will become too complicated if they meet. 

However, if there is really nothing going on, surely the two meetings wouldn’t be an issue at all, right? 

35. The partner feels extremely left out and frustrated

While all of this is happening, your partner is likely to feel left out and very frustrated.

They’ll have a strong inkling that something isn’t right, but your constant denials will cloud their judgment and leave them not knowing what to believe.  [Read: 25 secrets to catch a cheater red-handed in the act & with the right proof!]

Signs your partner is having an emotional affair

Maybe your friendships are strictly platonic, and you’re here because you’re suspecting that your partner is having an emotional affair.

If so, here’s what you should look out for:

1. They develop a sudden friendship with someone new

This is not necessarily a sign of an emotional affair, but it is an easy way to know who your partner might be having an emotional affair with. 

If your partner has met someone who you think is a possible candidate for a relationship, had your partner been single, then it’s okay to watch over them.

Just remember not to suffocate your partner or start accusing them of something you’re not sure of. [Read: What to do about that nagging cheating suspicion]

2. They prefer talking to that person about their feelings

If your partner is talking about personal things with someone else and refusing to talk about them with you, no matter what, it’s possible that they might be engaging in an emotional affair.

3. They use that person’s opinion against you

Their decisions about your relationship are influenced by someone else’s point of view. You’ll find your partner comparing how this new person thinks to how you approach your relationship. 

They will express how highly they think of this person as opposed to your own faults and shortcomings. [Read: 24 sad signs of an unhealthy relationship that ruin love forever]

4. They go on “dates”

Hanging out is different from dating. When we say dates, we mean a get-together scheduled for the purpose of talking. People do not plan these types of things with people who are not their friends.

If your partner is seeing someone for coffee or drinks “just to talk,” it might be a sign that your partner is engaging in an affair.

5. They generally look guilty

When you confront them about it, they don’t look or act innocently enough. They know they’re not doing anything wrong, but their gut instincts are telling them otherwise.

This will be reflected in the way they talk or act when confronted with the idea of an emotional affair.

6. They seem happier when they’re with the other person

If you get the chance to observe your partner with this person, try to compare it with how they treat you or your friends. 

If something doesn’t look or feel right, you need to talk to your partner about it. People in emotional affairs tend to look like they’re in love, even when they swear that they’re not.

7. It just doesn’t feel right to you

Trust your gut instincts. Don’t act rashly but do take the time to think about how you feel and what you plan to do with it.

A harsh confrontation will just push your partner away, so try to think of a plan that will allow you to express your feelings without insisting to your partner that you’re right. 

Give them a chance to explain, and then you can decide what to do next. [Read: Trust issues in a relationship: 22 whys & ways to get over it together]

How to talk about emotional cheating with your partner

Now that you know the signs of an emotional affair, how do you talk about it with your partner?

Before you get into this difficult conversation, you have to know how to go about it. Because as we said, if you approach them in the wrong way, you could just push them further into the other person’s arms. [Read: How to trust again and give someone your heart when you’re scared]

Before that happens, here’s what you should do:

1. Gather evidence

First, you need to be sure that it is actually happening and that you’re not just putting two and two together and getting twenty-five. Trust us, it happens. However, you should trust your gut on these things.

It could just be your imagination playing tricks on you and you’re seeing signs that aren’t there, but it’s probably not. [Read: How to survive infidelity and come closer without tearing apart]

So, when you confront your partner about their emotional affair, you should have evidence to back it up. That way, they can’t try to deny it or gaslight you.

2. Call your partner out

Once you have collected enough evidence, you should talk to them about it calmly and rationally. Don’t lash out, and don’t start pointing fingers. Start by telling them what you think and how you came to this decision.

Use your feelings and the truth that you’ve been keeping inside, but do so calmly. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

3. Explain why an emotional affair is wrong

The most common defense people who are having emotional affairs use is that they are not cheating. If you point out the errors in this scenario, they might start to understand that you have a solid case against what’s been going on.

4. Avoid giving ultimatums

You might want to ban them from seeing the other person, but that’s not going to work. If your partner is going to end their emotional affair, it has to be because they’ve chosen to. Otherwise, it will only restart again somewhere down the line.

5. Acknowledge what is wrong with your relationship

Because of your partner’s emotional affair, you can now identify what your partner is getting out of their relationship with another person. [Read: How to end an affair and get over it even if you still love them]

Whatever it is that makes them happy with that person may be what’s making them unhappy with you.

Your partner may not be receiving it from you, or they may feel that it’s not something you’re willing to give. Talking can clear things up, and it starts with identifying the root of your problems.

6. Set an appropriate time to discuss how you can fix things

Don’t push your partner to do whatever it is you need to end the affair. At this point, they are probably confused about the situation.

Knowing that you’re against their friendship and it is causing you pain can make them question why you started feeling that way in the first place.

Give them time to assess their feelings so they can approach this with an open mind.

7. If it can’t be fixed, start thinking about your options

There is a chance that talking about it or trying to fix things might not work. 

You can take more time if you want but know that when a person’s heart is taking them somewhere else, it’s best to just let them leave… or else you might rip each other’s hearts apart in the process of holding on.

What should you do if you’re having an emotional affair?

Imagine how you’d feel…

We’ve gone over the signs of an emotional affair, and you recognize your “friendship” among that list. You know that your friendship crosses the line of normal relationships with friends and family members. [Quiz: Will you ever cheat on your partner?]

So, what’s your next move?

If you’re here reading this, then you’ve already made a great step in the right direction. You’re still reading this feature because you know that what you’re doing isn’t fair to your partner, you feel bad, and you want to change.

Get ready for some hard work though; this ain’t gonna be easy.

1. Understand you are having an emotional affair

If you didn’t have sex with the person, it doesn’t matter. Many people argue that emotional infidelity is even worse than physical cheating.

Why? Because you’re more emotionally connected to someone else than you are to your own partner.

2. Not sure if it’s an emotional affair?

It’s tricky when trying to figure out if it’s actually an emotional affair or not. Listen, if you feel guilty when you’re with the other person or have to be dishonest with your partner about what you’re doing and who you’re seeing, it’s an emotional affair.

Why would you have these feelings if this was just a friend? If it’s a friend, you have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of.

3. Don’t try to rationalize what you’re doing

No one wants to see themselves as someone who cheats. But you cannot try to rationalize what you’re doing.

Own up to the fact that you’re cheating on your partner.

Sure, your partner may not be giving you enough attention or working long hours, but express your feelings to your partner instead of going to someone else for attention. [Read: How to forgive yourself for cheating]

4. Explore why you’re having an emotional affair

Why is this happening in the first place? If everything in your relationship was great, you wouldn’t feel the need to emotionally connect with someone else. So, do some soul-searching to understand why you’re having one.

Sit down with yourself and really think about what was missing from the relationship that made you look elsewhere. [Read: How to face relationship challenges and overcome them as a couple]

5. What do you want from the other person?

What are you trying to gain from this emotional affair? Do you want to leave your current partner for this person? Do you want to feel validated?

You went into this affair because you are unhappy in your current relationship, but what was the end goal? Now that it’s progressed, what do you really want from this affair?

Have some self-reflection about how you’d want to move next. [Read: Are you in love with someone else? 15 questions you need to ask yourself]

6. If you want to stay with your partner, cut the affair

You need to end the affair. Now, this can be tricky depending on your relationship with this person. Is this someone you see all the time, work with, etc.? If so, the best way to end it is to tell them. Don’t ghost them.

They deserve to know why you’re ending this relationship with them. Let them know that you feel you crossed the boundaries and that you need to remove yourself from this situation. 

Now, whether you still want to remain friends with them is your decision. [Read: How to say goodbye to someone you love and find closure and happiness]

7. Understand that it’s going to be emotional

Listen, once you break it off, it isn’t going to be a walk in the park for you. You can think of this as a breakup. You have an emotional bond with someone, and now you’re ending it.

Now, it’s a little tricky because unless you told your partner what happened, you kind of grieve in silence.

If you choose not to tell your partner, then the best way to process this is to seek professional therapy or write your emotions down. [Read: 29 healing steps to get over someone you never dated but loved deeply]

8. Consider whether to tell your partner

We’re not forcing you to tell your partner. What you choose to do is your decision to make. Though if you feel guilty, it may be better to let them know what happened.

After all, they have a right to know what you were doing behind their back. They also have the right to decide whether or not they want to be with someone who did that.

9. Understand that your partner will be hurt

If you do decide to tell your partner, know that they are going to be hurt, really hurt. The worst thing to do is beg forgiveness from them and suffocate them with your tears. Give them space. [Read: You only cheated once – Should you tell?]

They need time to process what happened and figure out the next step. They’ll come to talk to you when they’re ready, you just need to respect their space.

10. Change your relationship

You’ve talked to your partner, and they’re willing to give the relationship a second chance. Now they probably acknowledge that your relationship wasn’t going down a good path, which is a good place to start when it comes to recovering from an emotional affair.

You to talk openly about the relationship, what needs are not being fulfilled on both sides, and what you both need to move forward. 

Perhaps you need to do something fun together to rekindle the relationship. If you are married, you might want to consider attending marital counseling. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

11. Stick to the plan

Making a plan is one thing, but sticking to it is a whole other thing. If one of you is slacking when it comes to meeting those expectations, remind each other.

In that situation, you should evaluate whether or not you both actually want this relationship to work. If not, sit down and talk about it. Maybe it’s better if you both moved on.

How an emotional affair can ruin 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 is 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 an emotional affair can bring into your life. Your actions have real consequences, you know. [Read: Love triangles: Why it’s sexy, fun, painful & complicated all at once]

1. You’ll start to lead two lives

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.

Since 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’re infatuated with someone, you can’t help but spend all day dreaming about them or replaying happy memories of them. [Read: Work husband & wife – 49 work spouse signs you’re too close and rules to follow]

And because of this, an emotional affair 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.

3. You start to take your partner for granted

When you become 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. That’s not fair. [Read: 10 negative effects of taking someone for granted you can’t undo]

4. Petty fights

When you start having an emotional affair, 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. 

And they’ll think you’ve changed because you’re not giving enough back into the relationship to ensure its happiness.

5. Your life will stop moving ahead

When you become so wrapped in your emotional affair, you 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 you can be with your friend. [Read: 36 life lessons to instantly transform your life & draw in happiness]

But spending all this time thinking of your friend, and convincing yourself that you’re 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.

7. You’ll destroy your existing romance

This is inevitable. Even if your partner is a perfect lover, you’ll start to convince yourself that your partner’s neglect and indifference towards you is the reason 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 toward your friend. [Read: 59 signs it’s time to break up and give up instead of trying to fix your relationship]

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 will change overnight

You may think you’ve not changed, but all of a sudden, your partner will start to feel like a stranger who doesn’t understand you anymore. You’ll 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.

9. Guilt won’t give you any peace of mind

When you’re having an emotional affair, you’ll feel guilty for what you’re doing. But at the same time, you’ll be helplessly 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 from your partner.

To hide what you’re doing/feeling from your partner, you’ll turn into a compulsive liar whose lies will only get bigger with time.

How to avoid emotional cheating in your relationship

As you already know, emotional affairs can be damaging to relationships. So, how can you avoid it happening in your relationship? Here are some things you should do:

1. Set healthy boundaries

Everyone should have their own personal boundaries of what they will and won’t accept from a romantic partner. But these boundaries should also be negotiated together.

For example, you can agree that both of you have the passwords to each other’s phones and either of you is welcome to look at any time. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries – how to talk about them and set them]

2. Have an open conversation

The best time to fix a problem in a relationship is before it even happens. So, before an emotional affair even happens, talk to your partner about it honestly and openly.

Ask each other under what circumstances might they be tempted to emotionally cheat. Also, ask each other what behaviors might trigger you to want to be emotionally unfaithful to the other one.

3. Put effort into your relationship

Let’s face it. Most people don’t cheat on their partners when they are happy and in love. Sure, there are probably exceptions to this rule, but not for most people. [Read: 16 secrets to a perfectly happy relationship]

So, you need to make sure that you don’t get lazy and neglect your partner and your relationship in general. Make sure you put in effort every day to make your significant other feel loved and special.

4. Think about what you want

In order to make your relationship emotional-affair-proof, think about what you want and need from your partner. What are your must-haves and deal breakers? 

Once you have figured that out for yourself, you need to communicate that to your partner and vice versa. Make sure that you both are meeting each other’s needs in the way that your partner wants you to. [Read: 27 most common relationship deal breakers that push many couples apart]

5. Individual counseling

If you think that you have some trauma or personality characteristics that make you particularly prone to cheating, then you should get individual counseling. It’s important to identify the triggers that might make you vulnerable to an affair.

You might even want to go to couples counseling too. Your relationship doesn’t have to be bad in order to do this. Counseling can help teach you some valuable relationship and communication skills to stay connected.

6. Limit temptation 

While you can’t help if some hot person starts working at your place of employment, you can help how much you interact with them. You need to keep it professional so you can avoid temptation. [Read: Tempted to cheat? 15 reasons why staying faithful is so hard]

Don’t go to lunches together or spend a lot of time texting each other. The more you expose yourself to this temptation the better chances you might act upon it.

Recovering from an emotional affair is a long road

Whether you’re the person who had the emotional affair or it was your partner, the road back is a long one. There was a breach of trust within the relationship, and feelings have been hurt. Repairing will take time and effort on both sides.

Think long and hard about whether this relationship is worth continuing with. If there is any chance the whole situation will repeat itself again in the future, it’s time to move on. [Read: Should you forgive a cheater? How and 21 must-knows to make a choice]

However, if you’re both dedicated to making it work, it’s time to sit down and work things out together.

There are many signs of an emotional affair, and they often creep up and bite you on the ass without realizing it. It’s time to take action and fix things before they spiral out of control.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...