What is Emotional Infidelity?

Being emotionally unfaithful implies that you are establishing or have already established an emotional connection with someone that you could find sexually attractive. It isn’t important whether you actually have sex or not. You are being unfaithful because you are investing your time, attention, and emotional security in some sort of extramarital relationship that you are keeping secret from your current partner or spouse.

In most cases, the partner, even though he or she may be totally unaware of the new emotional attachment, begins to feel neglected and left out, causing a rift in the existing relationship. According to experts, this kind of relationship can be more damaging than discovering that your partner has been involved in a sexual liaison.

How can emotional infidelity happen?

Emotional infidelity can begin to happen almost before anyone realizes it. This type of behavior can start innocently enough through casual acquaintance at work or as part of a social group or hobby. It happens when two people take casual conversation to a more intimate level. They begin to share secrets and exchange confidences. Suddenly they find themselves attracted to the other person.

The expansion of social media has helped fuel the recent explosion of emotional infidelity. Nowadays, someone can form an emotional attachment to a person that they have never met, but suddenly find to be spectacularly appealing. Relationships can quickly form online, in a chat room, or via cell phone texts or conversations.

What at first seems like innocent conversation or flirting eventually becomes a secret relationship that the participants are wont to break off. Dependence rapidly forms for both parties involved, making the whole affair that much worse. And yes, even without sex it can still be considered an affair. Sexual thoughts and fantasies can easily occupy your mind, clouding your judgment and making it difficult to attend to the very real needs of your partner or spouse.

Why is it so damaging if there isn’t any sex?

It turns out that the damage and relationship fallout from affairs is more about the lying and deceit than it is about sex. Psychologists maintain that it is actually easier for individuals to recover from a partner’s sexual exploits outside of their relationship than it is to overcome the fact that they’ve been lied to.

Individuals involved in emotional relationships are usually in denial for the simple reason that there is no physical intimacy. Without the sex act itself, participants believe they are doing nothing wrong. As the emotional attachment blossoms and grows, it soon becomes too late to turn back. When a partner is emotionally unfaithful, the dynamic of a relationship quickly changes.

Emotional cheating is about secrecy and breaking trust with your loved one. It’s not as simple as having sex with someone else. Marriage at best is a difficult proposition to maintain. Sexual infidelity is rampant, yet the majority of relationships find ways to overcome sexual dalliances for the greater good of the family unit, the partner spouse, and/or the children.

How do I know if this is happening to me?

Ask yourself the following questions: Am I talking about things that I haven’t mentioned to my spouse or significant other? Am I doing things I normally don’t do with my spouse? Am I keeping the relationship private, going out of my way not to mention it to family members or friends?

If your answers to the above questions are “yes,” then you may be headed for trouble with an emotional affair. Just like any other clandestine relationship, you may find yourself going to great lengths to find time to spend with the other person, whether it’s online or in person. Just as the lack of sex doesn’t mean you’re being unfaithful; not meeting in person doesn’t nullify the relationship either.

Emotional affairs begin for the same reasons as other kinds of extramarital relationships―a spouse that feels unappreciated or doesn’t feel wanted or needed. Emotional relationships that develop online are especially dangerous as people often pretend to be someone they are not; older, younger, smarter, richer, or better looking, but different than they would be if you met them in the light of day.

What are some warning signs of emotional infidelity?

If you believe your spouse or significant other is involved in an emotional affair, watch for the following signs: a change of habits, such as going to bed earlier than usual, staying up far later or getting up at a different time; unusual phone or computer habits, which includes heavy amounts of instant messaging, texting, or other one-on-one online communications; and reluctance by your spouse to talk with you about anything new or unusual that you’ve noticed.

For the spouse that may have become emotionally involved with another person, take care: Whether you realize it or not, emotional infidelity is just what it sounds like. You’re having an affair outside of the bounds of your marriage or other committed relationship.