The 7 Stages of Emotional Affairs & the Games It Plays On Your Mind

An emotional connection is often deeper than a sexual one. Learn the stages of emotional affairs and spot a growing connection before it’s too late. 

Stages of Emotional Affairs

Sex is sex, right? But what about the different layers and stages of emotional affairs that slowly draw a person into an emotional bond with someone else?

Yes, when your partner cheats on you sexually, it’s devastating. It’s heartbreaking and you’re not sure if you can ever trust them again. However, when they form an emotional connection with another person, is that harder to overcome?

Most people would agree that yes, it is. [Read: Emotional affair signs you can easily miss – 24 things to look out for]

When emotions become involved, the entire connection becomes stronger and harder to overcome. You start to wonder what you didn’t give to your partner for them to turn to someone else.

And then, you start to question whether they loved you in the first place.

Is it possible to be emotionally attached in that way to more than one person?

It’s a debate that’s been raging for years, and how you feel about it is a personal deal. [Read: Emotional cheating vs friendship – Where is the line crossed?]

Emotional affairs and the pain they cause

Hopefully, this will never happen to you, but if your partner does form an emotional attachment to another person, it’s important to avoid self-blame. There are many reasons why this type of situation occurs. While it could be that something was lacking in the relationship, it could also be totally out of your hands too.

If you’re wondering whether a friendship you have with someone is starting to cross an emotional line, it’s time to stop and think carefully about your actions. How would you feel if your partner was doing the same thing to you? Would it hurt you? If you can agree that it would, you’re already doing something wrong. [Read: 12 signs of emotional infidelity that can lead you to a real affair]

The bottom line is that emotional affairs can damage a person’s view of the world. It can ruin their perspective on love and on who they are as a person.

For sure, physical cheating is hard to overcome, but isn’t it harder if there are true feelings involved? Some may not agree, but when someone is emotionally close to someone else, it’s enough to rip the heart out of their partner and stamp on it for good measure.

Learning the stages of emotional affairs can help you to avoid potential problems and put right the deeper issues before they turn into something which cannot be overcome in your relationship. [Read: What’s an emotional affair? And is your partner having one?]

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.

So, what leads to that point? What are the key things to be aware of? What are those deadly stages of emotional affairs so you can know for sure just how deep in you already are? Read on to know them all.

Stage 1 – They feel unappreciated or not good enough

Remember, emotional affairs aren’t always about the husband cheating. It can be either partner who strays down an emotional path to someone else.

However, the first stage is usually the one where the partner feels somehow unappreciated in the relationship, or they 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. [Read: Are you happy? How to spot the subtle signs of resentment in a relationship]

Stage 2 – The sex goes out of the relationship

Okay, so sex isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it is an important way for a couple to stay connected. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to drop everything and be available every time your partner wants sex. But, you do need to make sure that as a couple, you’re focusing on your sex life too.

One of the main stages of emotional affairs is that one partner felt that they weren’t getting enough sex within the relationship and they felt deprived.

As a result, they went looking for it somewhere else. Unfortunately, that led them towards an emotional connection at the same time, or 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 comes to the best of us at some point but it’s vital that you spot the signs and do something about it before problems arise. If your romantic relationship has become boring, if you feel like brother and sister, brother and brother, sister and sister, best friends, etc., then it’s important that you try and spice things up and reconnect.

Another of the main stages of emotional affairs is when the romance goes out of the relationship. You’re left just co-existing in the same space. Try date nights, try spicing things up. Just remember that you’re supposed to be connected on a deeper level. [Read: 15 common reasons why almost all couples end up getting bored with each other]

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

We need to make time for one another. If one partner feels like the other one doesn’t have time for them when they want to talk or they want to do something together, they’re going to become fed up pretty quickly.

Without a doubt, one of the strongest 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? 11 ways a woman can draw him in in no time]

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 about it, making demands and not being understanding of what they might be going through, this can easily lead to a major rift.

It’s vital that you check in with each other occasionally and make time to talk. Avoid placing unnecessary demands on your partner. Instead, work towards achieving things together.

The problem here is that if someone is already in the middle of an emotional affair, this type of behavior is just going to push them towards the other person even more. They start to feel like it’s not worth it anymore, that they’re getting more understanding from the other person. [Read: 15 reasons and signs why an emotional connection is so important]

Stage 6 – The guilt kicks in

When looking at the stages of emotional affairs, by this point it’s likely that the other partner has a suspicion that something isn’t quite right. This may lead them towards ultimatums or trying to keep their partner with offers of sex or being clingy.

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 completely.

The problem is the damage has often been done and the road back is extremely long. Can you ever trust your partner again? Can they forgive themselves? You might both wonder whether the entire situation might repeat itself in the future. [Read: Can emotional affairs ever end? The art of breaking this connection]

Many couples choose to try therapy after an emotional affair is over. This can be a mutual thing, because the other partner is now aware of what happened. Or, it can be that the person who had the affair feels they need to do this privately, in order to process what has happened and focus back on their original relationship. [Read: What makes affairs so hard to end? 12 reasons make it really hard]

What makes an emotional affair worse?

Which do you think is worse, a sexual affair or an emotional affair? For sure, neither is particularly good, but for most, an emotional affair is worse. A drunken mistake is bad, definitely, but it can be forgiven eventually and put down to a pretty bad slip up.

However, when someone seeks emotional support from someone outside of the relationship and ignores their own partner, that means there is something pretty wrong with the union in the first place.

Trying to identify what the problem is can be the starting point. But, the hurt and damage that has been caused by the affair is something that perhaps cannot be overcome. [Read: Affair fog – How to know if your partner is obsessed with someone else]

Have you ever been in this situation before? Hopefully, you haven’t, and we hope you never have to deal with it yourself.

But for those who have, it’s often a make-or-break situation that can either signal the start of an altered relationship with their partner, and with themselves, or it can be a sign that it’s simply not meant to be.

[Read: 9 powerful, practical steps to rebuild trust after you’ve cheated]

The main stages of emotional affairs are often very similar from person to person, although it’s possible to skip one or see them in a different order, depending upon the couple. Is it possible to overcome this type of betrayal? Only you can answer that.

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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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