4 years ago, while having a conversation with my close male friend, we happened to discuss how our sex life was with our respective partners.
He asked me if I was sexually satisfied with Cason. I answered I did pretty much and went on to ask if his sex life was smooth. He said they were rocking, and he had been planning a thrilling surprise for his girlfriend every weekend.
That sounded exciting, and I instantly felt the void in my relationship. A week passed, and I continued thinking a lot about the conversation about other people’s relationships.
I never saw my friend in another light except after that day when I began to picture how he would be in bed. Not that I craved for him. There was still an iota of curiosity that I wished to explore further.
I am not sure if I passed any hints or the maze in my head became apparent in our ensuing conversations, but our behavior towards each other considerably changed.
Both of us were extremely content in our respective relationships but were definitely catching some flying sparks, despite knowing it would not lead us anywhere and we won’t be telling about it to our partners.
This was when I made some conscientious efforts in order to learn more about what was going on.
I was emotionally cheating on my partner.
Having experienced the phase, I clearly learned a lot from it and understood what is emotional cheating in a relationship and where I must draw the line.
What is an emotional affair?
Emotional cheating or emotional affair is when you choose to invest your emotions somewhere else rather than your relationship. Basically, an emotional affair is cheating sans sexual intercourse.
So, what constitutes an emotional affair?
There are three elements of emotional cheating, which might be clear from my experience detailed above.
- Sexual tension
- Emotional connection
- Lack of transparency with your partner
If you are experiencing the first two and are maintaining secrecy about the same from your partner, as mentioned in point 3, there are chances of emotional infidelity from your end.
However, the boundaries are still subjective because each couple set their unique rules in the relationship. Therefore, what might be okay for one group of people might not be for the other.
Effects of emotional cheating
Emotional cheating is as wrong as physical cheating and is detrimental to the relationship, without the other partner understanding what might be going wrong.
Some of the ways how emotional unfaithfulness affects the relationship are:
- Loss of trust in the relationship
- Guilt and anxiety
- Shame from the built-up feelings
- Alienation from your partner
- Loss of communication
- No we-time in the relationship
- Break up/ divorce
- Loss of confidence
Warning signs of an emotional affair
Whether or not you are involved in emotional cheating can be quite confusing, given that there are no clear boundaries as in the case of physical infidelity. However, there are common signs to understand if you or your partner has trodden the wrong path.
1. Keeping your friend in high regard as your partner
If you have feelings that your friend is as good as your husband, you need to re-evaluate your feelings and step backward. On any given day, your partner and your relationship with them should be your top priority.
2. Insisting on excessive me-time
If you do not like spending a lot of time with your partner anymore and seek alone time just so that you can give your friend some time, you are definitely courting a disaster in your relationship.
3. You are defensive
You are more defensive than usual about your actions and that of your friend. This can usually incur because of a sense of guilt or because you wish to maintain the secret about having an emotional affair from your partner.
4. You discuss intimate details with your friend
If you both are discussing intimate details over calls, texts, or during meet-ups with each other and have found a great level of comfort in doing so, you are engaging in emotional cheating by texting, and you need to tighten your boundaries.
5. You are hiding/ lying more than usual
As evident, lies and secrecy creep into your relationship, and you mold your conversations to maintain peace. This further leads to betrayal.
6. The sexual compatibility dooms
You fantasize a lot about the person, and this affects your chemistry with your partner. You place all your unfulfilled desires on your imaginative sex life, and that adds up the frustration with your current partner.
7. Lack of communication
The communication level with your partner drops, and you become less interested in talking about anything with your partner, considering your emotional energy gets drained.
An important thing to note that some signs among these can occur due to various other reasons with no connection to infidelity. Therefore, it is important to gauge the situation and discuss it with your partner.
Can you save your relationship after emotional infidelity?
The good news is that there has been no physical involvement with the person that could play havoc in the relationship. So, take the necessary steps before the infidelity complicates your life further.
Emotional cheating is the affair that started in your head and heart. You need to be well aware of your emotional guidance system, practice relationship affirmations, identify the lies, and learn to accept the truth.
Once you know how to master your negative thoughts, you can stop emotional adultery and save your relationship.
How to stop emotional cheating?
You might wonder why emotional affairs are hard to end.
Well, stopping an emotional affair means you need to do a lot of internal work and steer your energies towards the relationship. However, once you have decided and ready to bounce back, here are certain things you can do to rebuild the relationship after emotional cheating:
Support each other
Support your partner and seek support whenever you need it. Let them know where you need a helping hand rather than letting it sit and build up in your head.
Talk openly about the relationship. There is certain emptiness inside us that gives us dissatisfaction. Once you both practice the art of effective communication, things will get back to normal.
Keep the spark alive
If there is a lack of chemistry in the relationship, you can always make special efforts to make things work. Go for dinner dates, dress up for each other, try new sex ideas, etc.
Stop or limit your engagement with the other person
Avoid the mess at all costs. If you are comfortable discussing it, communicate with them clearly how you both can’t continue. Else, drift yourself away on your own accord.
Resolve relationship conflicts calmly
Rather than leaving or forgetting the disagreements and relationship issues, discuss them openly to pave the way for a healthier relationship.
An emotional affair might seem simple and harmless, but there are major chances that it will turn into something bigger and messier if you are unbothered about dealing with emotional infidelity and putting it on halt.
Be honest with yourself and ask yourself what you really seek. Was your emotional infidelity a one-time thing or it happened because you are still looking for a fulfilling relationship?
Take the next steps accordingly.