Emotional cheating is commonplace, but why is it that it doesn’t spark the fiery outburst that catching someone in the act of infidelity does? Today’s society has become engrossed with texting and social media, and it’s quite effortless to “fall” for someone without even meeting them in person.
When someone chooses to step outside the bounds of a relationship and have a physical connection, they can blame it on alcohol, drugs, or even a poor lapse in judgment. However, when you’re involved in an emotional affair, then it’s done by choice. You can have sex without getting emotions involved, but when you bear your heart and soul to someone, the connection is quite different.
To be guilty of emotionally cheating, you must foster a relationship over weeks or months. The feelings you experience in an emotional situation are much deeper than that of a physical attraction. Some might say that these feelings are stronger as they’re rooted in the heart rather than in a bed in a cheap motel.
What is Emotional Cheating?
How do you define emotional cheating as there are no guidelines for this unfaithfulness? Each couple should define boundaries for their relationship as the concept of emotional affairs is constantly evolving.
Keep in mind that for there to be any cheating in the emotional realms, there must be the following:
- An established emotional connection
- Secrecy from each other
- An element of eroticism
Having close friends is always good, but it’s hard to have friends of the opposite sex when you’re in a committed relationship. Do you have anything on your phone that you keep secret from your spouse? Perhaps, you’re dreaming of kissing and holding this person that you speak with every day.
When you start developing feelings like this and want to be more than just friends, the relationship has moved from buddies into the emotional cheating territory.
Signs of An Emotionally Cheating Partner
How does a person know if they have an emotionally cheating partner? What signs do you look for, and when do you confront them? Here are some signs to look for that can help you.
1. Guarding the Cell Phone
One of the first indications of someone becoming emotionally involved with another is cell phone secrecy. If your partner always left their phone in plain sight and now, they guard it with their life, then it’s a sign that they’re hiding something. The cell phone is almost always the key to finding out what’s truly going on with your spouse.
2. No Longer Around
Does the person seem to be always talking in secret or hiding around the corners texting? When it comes time for dinner, they would rather be on their phone or run errands continuously. When a person is emotionally cheating, then they will pull away from you.
3. Secretive Nature
When someone is doing something wrong, then they try to be very secretive about their actions. They might be staying late at work, having mystery meetings at all hours, or have other excuses because they want to be away from home. It’s important to note that this was occurring when it wasn’t commonplace before.
4. They Know A Lot About This Friend
One major hint that someone is emotionally cheating is that they seem to always talk about a “friend.” They name drop about this person for the smallest things, and they seem to know a great deal about them. If you ask them any questions about their “friend,” they are quite eager to answer.
Watch their face as they talk about them. If they are beaming, it’s a sign of a problem.
5. Super Defensive
Do they become super defensive when you ask them anything about their whereabouts, cell phone usage, or mystery meetings at work? If there’s no reason for them to defend their actions, why are they acting this way with you? A defensive nature is always a red flag.
6. Lack of Intimacy
A significant sign that something is wrong in a relationship is a lack of intimacy. It’s because they are dreaming or thinking of someone else. Just because emotional cheating doesn’t involve intimacy doesn’t mean that they don’t fantasize about it.
When you confront them, their guilty conscience may try to appease your physical needs so that you don’t become more suspicious. If things are off in the bedroom, then it’s a cause for concern.
If you always had good communication and enjoyed talking about the boring day-to-day stuff, it can be a bad sign when they stop speaking. The reason they don’t want to share so much with you is that they’re afraid they might trip up and say the wrong thing, or they can’t think of anything but this other person.
Also, if they give flippant answers to questions, you ask them, such as “I’m fine,” “whatever,” I’m okay,” then you know something is wrong.
8. You’re No Longer Important
Whether your spouse is having a physical or emotional affair doesn’t matter, it takes a lot of energy. While you feel less important, it’s just that their mind is preoccupied. According to Health Research Funding, over 60 percent of all affairs happen at work, and 56 percent of those people are happy in their marriage.
Chances are, even if they do step outside of the relationship for their emotional needs, it’s just a passing fling. They will soon come back and realize the error of their ways, or at least 31 percent do.
9. They Pick Fights
You might notice the cheating spouse likes to pick fights with you. They feel much guilt about the situation, but they want to try to have a reason to blame you for what they’re doing.
For instance, they may start nitpicking about the smallest of infractions simply because they want a reason to storm out of the house and meet their friend for coffee. They’re using you for an excuse, so don’t fall into this trap.
10. Everything Is Your Fault
Someone who is caught red-handed likes to turn everything around on others for fear of getting in trouble. If you choose to confront them about their behavior, they may try to make it your fault and act like you’re cheating. The term is called gaslighting, and it’s where you try to make everyone else take the blame for your actions.
Be very careful if your spouse starts using psychological tricks like this one. They can be dangerous and cause you mental harm if you continue down this path with them.
How To Handle An Emotionally Cheating Spouse
Always trust your intuition, as gut instincts are very powerful and usually correct. You think your partner is having an emotional affair, now what?
•Gather Your Evidence
Before you start whirling accusations at your spouse, you need to gather any evidence first. Do a little bit of digging, and you may be surprised by what you find. Never go to an argument without documentation, as gut feelings aren’t enough to bring the matter into the open.
When you start the conversation to confront them about your evidence or suspicions, you should ask them things like:
- Are you happy in our relationship?
- Is something wrong between us?
- Do you still love me and want to be with me?
By asking major questions like these, you’re putting them on the spot. You’re not necessarily asking them about the emotional affair, but you’re asking them how they feel about you. You must know how they think about you if you want to continue with this relationship once things are out in the open.
If they open their heart to you and tell you about their feelings for another, you might be able to save the marriage. However, don’t just trust them to tell you the truth since they’ve already been dishonest with you. It’s time to get some professional help to get to the root of the issues.
There’s a reason why they looked outside the union for their emotional needs, and this problem needs to be fixed.
If you see any of these red flags above and think your spouse is emotionally cheating on you, then you need to confront them. The longer you let the situation continue, the worse you will feel. You need a resolution to the problem.
Just because they’re having an emotional affair doesn’t always warrant a breakup or divorce. It all comes down to your personal beliefs regarding this type of behavior and the rules you’ve established in your relationship. Some people feel this conduct is wrong, but they don’t feel it’s grounds to end your connection.
The National Library of Medicine referenced a study on this issue conducted by a university in Northern Ireland. They found that women were more upset by emotional infidelity than men. Men are more bothered by physical interactions than emotional ones.
So where you go after this upheaval will be between you two. Just remember that there might be some trust issues going forward, even if it wasn’t a physical affair.