You find yourself connecting well with your new co-worker, or long lost friend that you’ve recently got back in touch with; that’s innocent, right? After all, you are just becoming close friends. However, you eventually find yourself developing “crush like” thoughts about this person, which seem innocent because you would never even think about cheating on your spouse.
There might be a problem, though; because now, as your relationship grows you find yourself flirting a little bit more than usual and you can’t wait to see this person. This person makes you feel good and more attractive. You may even get the sense that this person has a little crush on you. Now you find yourself dressing up a bit more than usual and you start to look forward to seeing this person; very similar to the way you acted when you and your partner first began dating.
As your friendship with this person progresses you begin to open up and find yourself talking about the intimate details of your life; stuff that you haven’t even shared with your spouse or partner. All of this might seem innocent, but, it actually sounds like you could be cheating on your partner, emotionally.
What is an emotional affair anyway?
While an emotional affair excludes sexual intimacy it still includes a deep emotional connection that is shared between two people where one or both are already in a committed relationship. Being emotionally connected to someone means that you are developing a level of intimacy with them.
In general, intimacy could be described as having a feeling of closeness with someone by developing an emotional connection with them. When you share your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone you are forming a level of intimacy by creating a connection with this person emotionally. Emotional affairs may seem less harmful and more innocent than a physical affair because there hasn’t been any sexual contact involved. However, emotional affairs actually have the potential to be more hurtful because you have established an emotional connection or an emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner.
This means you are turning towards someone else to get your emotional needs met when you should be turning towards your partner to fill those emotional needs. An emotional affair can often start out much more subtle than a sexual affair; however, having an emotional level of intimacy with someone outside of your relationship has the potential to move into sexual intimacy. It is always a good idea to keep your outside relationships in check and look for signs of the possibility that you may be heading down the path to an emotional affair.
How do you know you are having an emotional affair?
Emotional affairs can hit us before we even realize what is happening. Here are some signs to watch out for:
You find that you can’t stop talking about this person. They are always on your mind. You talk to your friends, family, and hair stylist, whoever will listen to you, about this person. Or, you do not talk about this person at all, to anyone.
You act a little more flirty than usual with this person; in fact, more flirty than you would act around any of your other friends.
There is a level of excitement when you know you will get to see this person. You feel more excitement with seeing this person than you would with any other friend.
You find yourself paying extra attention to your appearance when you know you will see this person.
You think about the person often, and possibly have thoughts of “he/she would really like this movie/restaurant/song/etc”.
You confide in, and turn to this person first, before your partner.
You have fantasies about what it would be like to be with this person, sexually.
You may even recognize that your relationship with this person is pushing some boundaries.
How can you tell if your partner is having an emotional affair?
On the flip side, how can you tell if your partner may be having an emotional affair? Here are some signs to look for:
Does your partner seem to be more emotionally distant than usual?
Are you finding that your partner is texting or on the computer more than usual?
Your partner may get defensive and accuse you of being nosy or paranoid when you question his/her change in behavior.
Your partner has been talking about this “new” friend a lot. You may even pick up that your partner has been talking about them in a way as though a friend would talk to you about someone they have a “crush” on.
Feeling the urge to check your partner’s cell phone, email, etc.
Trust your gut. If you think something is off, it probably is.
What you can do to reestablish the emotional connection with your partner?
When you realize that you may be turning towards someone else to meet your emotional needs there are a few things you can do to put a stop to it and to make sure you don’t cross any boundaries that may harm your marriage or committed relationship.
First, put a stop to it! Stop sharing and confiding in this person, and start to communicate with your partner.
Limit the amount of contact that you have with this person, and always do things in group settings.
Start planning things with your partner. Begin to turn towards your partner and try to put that spark back into your relationship.
If you think your partner might be having an emotional affair with someone talk to your partner about it. Discovering that your partner may have been involved in an emotional affair can bring up a wide range of intense emotions, such as anger, resentment, and sadness. Remember to ask questions and to share your feelings. Be sure to get all of the facts first. Don’t immediately accuse, assume, or jump to conclusions. There’s a chance you could be right, but there is also a chance that you could be wrong, and opening up the lines of communication is so important for generating a healthy discussion regarding the status of your relationship.