Emotional Cheating vs Friendship: The Point When a Line is Crossed

It’s easy for a red line to be crossed without realizing. Understand the differences between emotional cheating vs friendship before it’s too late. 

Emotional Cheating vs Friendship

From time to time, we need a certain amount of emotional understanding that we don’t seem to get from our partner. Have you ever been in that type of situation? If you have, you might have wondered about the line between emotional cheating vs friendship. Is it blurrier than you originally thought?

Perhaps you feel like your partner simply doesn’t understand a situation you’re in. Maybe they’re distracted with a problem of their own, and you feel like your own needs are ignored. It happens. But how you deal with this situation is key in terms of whether your relationship will survive the turmoil or not.

[Read: 18 signs you’re having an emotional affair with a friend without realizing it]

When another person enters the equation

One of the main outcomes in this situation is to turn to someone else.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean turning to another person in a physical way and cheating on your partner sexually. Every single person on this planet has a totally different definition of what cheating is. For many, kissing is a red line. For another person, that might be totally forgivable.

So, how can you tell whether it’s emotional cheating vs friendship when you or your partner turn to another person to get their emotional needs met?

[Read: The 10 bad things emotional cheating can do to you]

Emotional cheating vs friendship

Let’s break these terms down to really identify where the lines become blurred between emotional cheating vs friendship.

We all know what friendship is. It’s platonic. There is no romantic intention involved. You support one another and love each other almost like family. The degree depends upon the quality of the friendship and how long you’ve known each other. [Read: The 4 most common yet painful types of cheating in a relationship]

Many people have friends who are closer than family. They also have friends with who they’re not quite so close. For the most part, there’s no romantic intention towards any of them.

We turn to our friends during times of need because our friends know us well and understand us. That means they can give us the help and support we need until we’re feeling strong enough to help ourselves. [Read: 15 qualities of a good friend that sets them apart]

So, what exactly is emotional cheating?

Again, everyone has their own definition.

To many, emotional cheating is when a partner turns to another person for their emotional needs, but they have other intentions. They may not know this at first, but they develop romantic feelings and the connection goes a little beyond friendship. [Read: 12 hints of emotional infidelity that can lead you to a real affair]

When a need develops, that’s when the line has been crossed.

When you need to speak to that person, when you can’t wait to see them, when you get butterflies as they walk into the room. That’s when you’re in trouble. And, that’s when you’ve crossed the line from friendship to emotional cheating.

Of course, you’re not cheating physically; you might never kiss, you might never sleep together, you might never even hold each other for a second longer than necessary.

But it doesn’t matter – emotional cheating is often harder to overcome than physical cheating because of the feelings that are involved and their depth. [Read: Emotional dependency – Are you overly dependent emotionally on someone else?]

Signs you’re emotionally cheating on your partner

To help you figure out where you may be on the emotional cheating vs friendship spectrum, let’s check out a few signs. If you can agree with several of these, you need to stop and think about your actions.

1. You meet up with them or call them at odd times

There are certain times of the day or night that are relationship times. For instance, evening times are usually reserved for spending time with your partner.

If you meet up with this person or contact them late in the evening, in the middle of the night, or when you’re supposed to be with your partner, that’s a red flag. [Read: The 7 stages of emotional affairs and the games it plays on your mind]

2. You share emotional stories and secrets

If you find yourself sharing your emotional baggage or secrets with this other person, you need to ask yourself whether you’ve crossed a line.

There are certain things that you should never talk to someone else about. For instance, personal issues with your partner, or secrets that the two of you share. If you disclose these, ask yourself what you’re doing and why.

3. You can’t wait to see them

Do you get butterflies when you know you’re going to be meeting up with this person? Why is that? If you’re just friends, you shouldn’t really be feeling this excited!

Sure, we all have friends who are the life and soul of the party and they make us feel super-happy when we’re around them, but they don’t tend to make you feel nervous and excited beforehand.

That usually only happens when you’re meeting someone who is more than a friend. [Read: Are you falling for someone? The biggest signs of an emotional connection]

4. You plan things to do with them

If you’re spending more time planning times to meet up with this person than you are with your own partner, that’s a huge issue.

It goes beyond friendship when you go to great lengths to plan something special for the two of you. You could say that’s something you should be doing more of with your partner.

5. You rely on them for advice

It’s normal to ask your friends and family members for their advice sometimes but if you rely only upon a particular person for their view, that could indicate the connection has gone too far.

It’s a much better idea to talk to your partner about these things, instead of someone else. [Read: Who should men take advice on relationships from?]

6. You’re not sure if you’re attracted to them or not

Emotional cheating doesn’t always mean that the physical side of things ever happens. That doesn’t mean you’re any less guilty just because there was no physical contact.

However, if you’re not sure if you feel an attraction to them or not, you’re already halfway there.

7. They’re the first person you think of

When you wake up, who is the first person you think of? Other than the barista at the coffee house, of course. If it’s the person you’ve been getting a little too close to, you need to pull back quickly. Another person, beyond your partner, shouldn’t be on your mind this often. [Read: What it means to think of someone other than your partner]

8. You feel a little guilty

That’s a huge red flag. If you feel guilty about being so close to this person, then you need to stop.

Your subconscious is telling you that it’s gone beyond friendship and in that case, you’re into emotional cheating territory already.

9. You don’t want your partner and this person to mix

You go to great lengths to keep this person and your partner away from one another. Your partner might become suspicious about how much time you’re spending together and might want to meet them.

The very thought of that makes your blood run cold. That’s because deep down you know that it’s something more than friendship. [Read: What to do when you like someone else?]

Stop and evaluate your actions

If you’re in this situation and wondering whether you’ve crossed the line, think carefully. The fact you’re considering emotional cheating vs friendship in your mind means that you know something has gone a little further than it should have.

Of course, it could be that you suspect your partner may be cheating on you in this way because they’ve become close to someone else.

Emotional cheating vs friendship doesn’t always mean that the person is cheating, it doesn’t always have to mean that cheating is the winner in this boxing bout. Sometimes it is genuine friendship. Simply, a conversation between partners will fix the growing rift. [Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]

How can you pull back and deal with the issue?

So, how should you deal with it?

Think carefully about your relationship and what it means to you. If you’re growing close to another person, ask yourself a few hard questions and weigh the emotional cheating vs friendship shift. Evaluate it carefully. Decide which side of the line you’re on.

If you feel like you’ve crossed a friendship line, it’s time to either take a break with your partner and work on how you feel, or take a step back from your friend and figure out the problem in your original relationship.

You cannot and should not have both in your life. [Read: How to see two people and know if they’re having an emotional affair]

If you’re on the other side of the situation and think your partner has grown a little too close to someone they claim to be friends with, tread carefully. It’s never a good idea to start throwing threats around because if your partner is starting to grow close to this other person, you might push them even further in that direction.

Work on your relationship. Consider what is wrong and what you can change.

Talk to your partner and reignite the spark. If that doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to sit down and really address the issue. Explain how you’ve grown suspicious of their connection with the other person and that it makes you feel a little uncomfortable. [Read: How to face relationship challenges & overcome them as a couple]

It’s never a good idea to accuse them of anything. It’s not a good idea to do this too soon, but if all else fails, what do you have to lose?

Literally nothing. At this point, it’s rescue or walk away. [Read: Feeling tired of your relationship? Here’s why it happens and how to fix it]

The key question – How would you feel if it was the other way around

A friendship never has a feeling of butterflies attached to it. It’s not normal to suddenly experience a rush of adrenaline and butterflies when your friend walks into the room. If you experience that, it’s not friendship, it’s something else. Perhaps that’s the biggest pointer towards your connection having gone a little too far.

At the end of the day, friendship is something we should cherish, and it helps us through hard times. It’s not wrong to turn to friends when you’re struggling in your relationship.

Sometimes, an outside perspective can be all it takes to help you solve the issue. However, when you’re reaching out to someone else to get your emotional needs met and rely upon that person as a result, you really should sit down and work out whether you’re crossing major red lines. [Read: Why are affairs so hard to end? The secret reasons for the addiction]

The best measure? Ask yourself how you would feel if the boot was on the other foot. If your partner was close to someone else in the same way, would it make you feel uncomfortable? Would you have a problem with it?

If the answer is yes, you’ve already strayed far beyond the lines of your relationship. Stop before things worsen. If what you’re doing would make you uncomfortable if the situation was reversed, you know it’s wrong. In that case, why are you putting your partner through it?

[Read: Do emotional affairs ever stop? Here’s how to break the connection]

Emotional cheating vs friendship can be a difficult debate. We all turn to friends for support, but when that support becomes a little too much, it’s time to question what you’re doing and why. 

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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