Is Emotional Cheating really cheating at all?
First of all, let’s clarify what emotional cheating is and what it is not. Emotional cheating is defined as an affair where there is no physical intimacy – but there is emotional intimacy. These relationships often start out as friendships and serve to create an emotional distance in the marriage. Once the affair has been consummated, the relationship has crossed the line and is considered infidelity.
Partners who find themselves involved in an emotional affair may not think that they are even cheating on their partner. However after closer examination, an emotional affair can be just as damaging as one that involves sexual relations. The partner involved in an emotional affair will often share and confide in the other person more than their spouse. How damaging this is to a marriage – being that your primary confidant and source for sharing should be your spouse. We may have friendships where we share everything with a friend; however, this should never supersede sharing with your partner.
Some of the characteristics of an emotional affair include: secrecy, denial, sexual and/or emotional chemistry, and spending inappropriate amounts of time with person – this can be in-person or on-line. The person involved in an emotional affair will often keep the other person a secret from their spouse. Intrinsically, perhaps they know that their relationship with the other person is inappropriate and they may not feel comfortable telling their spouse about this person. The partner may also deny that they are involved in any way with the other person for fear of being found out. The partner may also deny or down play the amount of time they are spending with the other person. The fact that secrecy and denial play a major part in this affair indicate that although not sexual, but inappropriate actions are taking place. Lastly, one or both people may be physically or sexually attracted to the other person. This in and of itself is dangerous because what may have started out as an innocent friendship teeters on inappropriate behavior and is a sexual affair just waiting to happen.
If you find that you are in an emotional affair, how do you turn this around before the relationship progresses? First of all, severely limit and eventually stop spending alone time with the other person; second, stop confiding in the other person and begin sharing your ups and downs with your partner; and last, begin to spend quality time with your partner, use your time and energy to build up your marriage.
Emotional cheating is just that – cheating your spouse of your emotions and feelings. And although physical contact is not involved, your feelings and emotions are. No “friend” should know more about you than your spouse.