The Emotional Affair: Is It Cheating?

The Emotional Affair: Is It Cheating?

There’s no worse feeling than believing your partner is cheating. Whether you saw it coming or were completely blindsided, relationship infidelity hits hard – like a punch to the gut. Typically, we think of cheating as having sex with someone else, but unfortunately, there’s another equally-devastating type: the emotional affair. 

An emotional affair describes someone who invests more emotional support into someone outside of the relationship than they do their partner. Maybe they met someone new who offers a shoulder to lean on, a safe space to discuss emotions, or a fun escape. Regardless, the effects of an emotional fair can be just as destructive as a physical one. 

Emotional affairs usually stem from someone feeling distant, neglected, or misunderstood in a relationship. Worst case, maybe they’ve simply fallen out of love with their partner – and are falling for someone else. No matter the reason or how serious it is, an emotional affair is still just that – an affair. As with any form of infidelity, emotional cheating causes a severe break in trust, feelings of betrayal, and a damaging, overall blow to the relationship. 

Some people try to justify their emotional affair by believing it’s not “as bad” as a physical affair – but that’s not the case. Just like sexual infidelity, emotional affairs can destroy a relationship. 

If you’ve caught yourself having an emotional affair and truly want to save your relationship, here are a few ways to stop it: 

Create Distance

It’s time to back off from your affair, pure and simple. The energy and emotion you’re investing outside of the relationship should be redirected back to your partner. If you feel like this is “breaking up” with your new friend, then you’re probably much more invested than you thought. The best way to do it? Cold turkey. Just like with any bad habit, it’s best to make a clean break and move on. 

Be Honest With Your Partner 

If you’re hoping to restore any bit of trust in your relationship, you should start by confessing your emotional affair to your partner. Sure, this is easier said than done, but taking initiative to tell your partner before they find out is the first step in fixing broken trust

Discuss Your Relationship Problems With Other People 

And by other people, we don’t mean the person you were emotionally invested in. Whether it’s a family member or best friend, it’s important to have support outside of the relationship to help get you through tough times. Of course, they should be supporting your decision to end the emotional affair rather than enabling it to continue. 

Rekindle Romance With Your Partner 

Emotional and physical intimacy are deeply connected, so it’s important to put that spark back into your relationship. Even if you weren’t involved sexually with the other person, affairs of any kind always have that potential. Try planning ways to rekindle what you once had with your partner, whether it’s more affection, date nights, or new ideas in the bedroom

Check In

Regular check-ins as a couple are essential to ensure you’re on the same page. While affairs are never justified, there are times when a person may turn to someone outside of the marriage when they feel undervalued – checking in with each other frequently is a great way to avoid this. Discuss how you’re feeling, any concerns you have, and where your relationship stands. If you need a little extra help, relationship coaching is a very beneficial way to get things back on track. 

Admitting and addressing affairs – whether physical or emotional – is never easy. While it’s possible to rebuild broken trust, you need to be sure you want to. After all, affairs happen for a reason – and sometimes it’s because the relationship needs a break (or termination). But if you’re willing and ready to give it a shot, you can most past it – together.