Emotional Cheating Is More Traumatic Than Other Affairs | Signs Of An Emotional Affair & How To Cope

Last Update on July 15, 2023 : Published on January 17, 2022
Emotional Cheating

Infidelity or cheating is one of the worst betrayals anyone can face in a relationship but the betrayal can be more traumatic and painful if it is emotional cheating or emotional infidelity. Being unfaithful to your partner is not always about having a casual affair, having an emotional affair can be even more devastating to your relationship.

Emotional cheating can be when you build an intimate connection with someone who isn’t your spouse or partner. Emotional cheating is usually non-sexual intimacy where the attachment you have with the other person is unhealthy and carries the potential to weaken the foundation of your current relationship.

Below, let’s take a look at what is emotional cheating, how it differs from other affairs, the signs of an emotional affair, and how to survive emotional cheating.

What Is Emotional Cheating?

Emotional cheating is when you develop a close and intimate (non-sexual or non-romantic) relationship or connection with someone who isn’t your partner. Your closeness with this person can impact your existing relationship.

Emotional infidelity usually involves a person spending more time with someone else other than their partner, hiding the closeness with their partner, sharing one’s insecurities with the person other than their partner, avoiding communication with their partner, and more such behaviors.

Emotional cheating can look a lot like friendship in the beginning but in such cases, you turn to a person other than your partner or spouse to fulfill your emotional needs. This kind of cheating can put a dent in your relationship.

Many people don’t look at emotional cheating as “infidelity” because it hardly involves any romantic or sexual attraction.

Also Read: Dealing With Infidelity In A Relationship

Signs Of An Emotional Affair

There are many common signs of an emotional affair that you should know about, especially if you suspect your partner might be cheating on you emotionally. These signs can also help you determine if you’re involved in an emotional affair.

Remember, an emotional affair often begins with exchanging basic information (as it happens in a new friendship). What may seem like a harmful beginning of a friendship, can slowly develop into emotional intimacy.

Common signs of an emotional affair can be:

  • Shares things with the third person more
  • Turning to the third person for emotional comfort
  • Talking to the other person more than with the spouse
  • Comparing the partner or the relationship with the third person
  • Avoiding intimacy or spending more time thinking about the third person
  • Changes in behavior and attitude when talking about the third person
  • Avoid sharing emotional needs or stopping communication with the partner
  • Denying or mocking the partner when complaints about the third person are expressed
  • Emotionally distancing when asked to create boundaries with the third person
  • Becoming defensive when questions are raised about their intentions
  • Seeming to have given up on or stopped putting effort into the existing relationship
  • Hiding communication (texts, emails, etc) from the spouse/partner

Emotional affairs can feel like taking a break from normal relationship problems because you get the comfort and needs your partner may not be able to give you. Emotional cheating can put your relationship is in danger and it can even be more traumatizing than a sexual affair because you are emotionally invested in them.

Why Do People Emotionally Cheat?

People engage in emotional cheating for many reasons. First, in emotional cheating scenarios, there’s a general lack of respect or self-respect involved. When someone cheats emotionally, it doesn’t mean that they are in love with the third person. And it doesn’t even mean that they have stopped loving their partner.

Sometimes, when someone emotionally cheats, it’s because they have either intentionally or unintentionally let go of some boundaries over time. When you let go of your boundaries, an emotional connection with the other is formed and if not careful, this connection can turn into the very thing that can break your relationship.

Emotional cheating can also be from a need to meet one’s emotional needs. Some people emotionally cheat on their partners or spouses because they feel a lack of emotional security and connection in their existing relationship or with their partner/spouse.

What Can You Do About Emotional Cheating?

Dealing with and surviving an emotional affair can be challenging and can involve a lot of emotional distress. An emotional affair does a lot more than just betray the feelings of the partners. It destroys the trust and respect one has for their partner.

Here are some tips on how to survive emotional cheating:

If you’re emotionally cheating:

If you’re cheating on your partner then you need to accept that the journey to get over the affair is going to be super challenging. The first thing you need to do is to cut off all communications with the third person.

Next, you can consider these steps:

  • Ask your spouse/partner what can you do to regain their trust
  • Be ready to take hard steps to help your partner feel safe (emotionally and physically) in your relationship
  • You need to make more efforts to let your partner know that you’re committed to them and in fixing your relationship
  • You need to learn to be patient and wait for forgiveness. No one can get over an affair (emotional or not) in a night. Emotional cheating creates a wound deeper than other affairs
  • Plan special day outs where you entirely focus on your partner’s needs
  • You can consider couples therapy to know the reasons why you emotionally cheated on your partner. You can also try individual therapy to understand this as well

Emotional cheating is also a form of infidelity and if you have cheated emotionally on your partner/spouse, you need to own up to it. You need to accept your betrayal and your partner deserves to know about it too.

Also Read: Self-forgiveness: High time to Heal from Shame and Guilt

If your partner is emotionally cheating:

If your partner is emotionally cheating on you then first, you need to decide if your partner deserves forgiveness or not. Getting over a betrayal as big as infidelity isn’t easy and you deserve to take all the time you need to decide your next steps.

If you can’t get over the betrayal, then you don’t need to feel ashamed. The affair – emotional or not – isn’t your fault so be kind to yourself and if it takes time to regain trust in other relationships, it’s OK. Take all the time you need but don’t forget to take care of your mental and emotional health.

However, if you’ve decided to rebuild your relationship, then these steps might help:

  • Whatever you decide, remember that it will take time. Trust isn’t built overnight. Take the time you need
  • Do not blame yourself for your partner’s mistakes. You don’t deserve to be hurt like this
  • Try to stay open about what you need from your spouse/partner
  • Communicate as honestly as you can about your needs and wants
  • Remember to go easy on yourself. Healing from a betrayal isn’t easy
  • If you’re not blaming yourself, try not to blame your partner either. If you throw their affair every time you argue or disagree on something, you’ll never be able to move on
  • Seek therapy. Couples therapy or individual therapy can help you cope and move on from the affair better

All relationships go through a rough patch and emotional cheating can be a hidden betrayal that can severely damage your trust and love towards your partner. If you’re willing to fix the broken trust in your partner, remember it’s possible.

Granted, it will take a lot of time, effort, patience, and a big heart to forgive but if you’re committed to making this relationship work, then you can do it!

If you’d like to connect with a professional therapist for help, you can connect with BetterHelp below or write to us at info@calmsage.com

Visit Regain Counseling

Have you ever experienced emotional cheating? How did you survive an emotional affair? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lots of love and support to you!

Take Care.

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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