Many relationships start off with becoming acquaintances then friends. From there, your emotions take you further, and you end up in a loving marriage with your current spouse. Beyond the marriage, there is still the possibility of forming new friendships. It’s also possible that you may find yourself in an emotional affair disguised as friendship, and that will ultimately threaten your union.
Here is how an emotional affair impacts your marriage.
What Is An Emotional Affair?
Emotional affairs, also known as emotional cheating, are different from physically intimate affairs and micro-cheating. There are those who feel that emotional affairs are harmless, since there is no physical intimacy. However, having an emotional affair is indeed a form of infidelity—one that causes a similar amount of distress in the betrayed partner.
In many instances, emotional affairs begin when you need someone to talk to who isn’t your spouse. You may feel that you are misunderstood or that your emotions have been invalidated for too long, so you go searching for a friend. Emotional affairs can begin with a coworker or someone online.
The main characteristic of this kind of affair, however, is that you end up feeling closer to your friend than you do your partner; you may also start feeling chemistry or sexual tension.
How Is An Emotional Affair Different From Friendship?
Friendships rarely impact a marriage negatively, as emotional affairs do. Yes, platonic friendships can become emotional affairs when there is an intimate feeling between you and your friend. By investing more time in the friendship than your marriage, your feelings start to shift.
Friendships, however, do not involve sexual attraction. Even if there is, it isn’t acted upon. There is an evident boundary between you and your friend that you do not cross for fear of hurting your spouse. With an emotional affair, that line has been erased.
Signs Of An Emotional Affair
Emotional affairs are not like one night stands. They take time to develop, just like a normal relationship. This makes emotional affairs much more hurtful, because it means that there were true feelings shared between you and your friend. Here are some signs of an emotional affair to look out for:
- You value your time with your friend more than time spent with your spouse
- You prefer communicating with your friend over your partner
- Time spent with your spouse has decreased rapidly
- It feels like your friend understands you more than your spouse
- Your friendship with this individual is kept secret
- There is a sense of guilt over the friendship
- You are preoccupied with daydreams and fantasies of your friend
- Intimacy between you and your spouse has dwindled
- Whenever you are questioned about the friendship, you go on the defensive
When looking for signs that your spouse is emotionally cheating on you, keep an eye out for:
- Increased criticism of what you do and how you look
- Secretive behaviors, such as hiding their phone, emails, and moving to another room when they receive a phone call
- They mention their friend all the time
How An Emotional Affair Impacts Your Marriage
Infidelity is troubling. No marriage survives an affair without undergoing changes. Sometimes, the marriage breaks apart. Whenever you are unfaithful, it is a betrayal. You have broken your vows spoken at marriage. Moreover, you have broken their sense of trust. But that is just the beginning.
Emotional affairs may not involve sex, but the love you feel for your friend is real. This will impact your current relationship, no matter how well off you may be. Anticipate your partner to become deeply depressed once the affair comes to light. They may even express symptoms of PTSD and engage in intense self-blame.
No marriage is perfect. Relationships take a lot of ongoing effort from both sides. An affair is a rift, an open wound. Your partner is going to need time to heal from the shock and sadness.
Let’s not forget the other effects of an affair, regardless of the type. There are financial consequences that could burden your family. Once the affair comes to light, any children or family may be inadvertently involved, which creates further struggles.
In short, emotional affairs do not benefit marriages in any form. The only time you may see your marriage improve is if you come clean and you both attend marriage or infidelity counseling.
There is still hope. While you may feel that the emotional affair has hurt your marriage too deeply for healing, you can both pull through this together. The first step is letting go of the emotional affair and committing fully to your partner. Finding an infidelity therapist afterwards is also important.
Thousands of marriages have struggled like yours, and each situation is extremely painful and intricate. But you don’t have to tackle the impacts of an emotional affair alone. The counselors at Couples Academy understand what you are going through and are here to help. Restore and rebuild your loving marriage. Call or message Couples Academy to learn more about our services.