Couples Academy

What Is Emotional Cheating And Does It Count?

What Is Emotional Cheating And Does It Count (1)

You most likely have an idea of what constitutes infidelity. Hopefully, your partner is also aligned with those boundaries. Otherwise, there will be controversy. But what are your feelings about your spouse developing a close relationship with someone of the opposite gender? What happens when that friendship becomes emotionally charged and they begin to drift away from you? Emotional cheating is not pleasant to think about, but it does happen.

What is emotional cheating and does it count as infidelity? You are about to find out.


What Is Emotional Cheating?

It’s time to define “emotional cheating,” because it is still a fairly new term. As you may have guessed, emotional cheating is the nonsexual counterpart to physical cheating. It means that you are emotionally invested to the point of sexual tension (though sexual intimacy is not required) in someone outside of your relationship or marriage.

Now, this might make it sound like you are not allowed to form friendships with the opposite gender once you’re in a relationship or married. That’s not the case. Platonic friendships are friendly and necessary for your well-being. Emotional cheating is the closeness and feelings involved that draw you away from your partner and make you want to be with someone else.


Signs Of Emotional Cheating

If you are looking to diagnose a relationship that either you or your partner has as emotional cheating, there is one key characteristic to consider: does the friendship negatively impact your bond or connection with your partner? Is there a level of intimacy shared between you and your friend that you wouldn’t want your partner to know about?

Emotional cheating erodes any current relationship or marriage you are in. While being with this friend may absolve some issues you are struggling with, the overall result is lingering guilt and pain.

Here are some other signs of emotional cheating:

  • You tell the outside person things you would never tell your spouse. You run to them for emotional validation.
  • After connecting with the friend, you are more irritable around your partner.
  • You have decreased time spent with your spouse to spend more time with your friend.
  • Any level of emotional discomfort within your relationship is unbearable.
  • You exchange gifts with the outside person.
  • You cannot help but compare your partner to your friend and favor your friend more.
  • The thought of your partner seeing the emails and text messages you send to your friend fills you with fear, guilt, or shame.
  • You don’t want to have sex with your spouse anymore.
  • You avoid communicating with your spouse about problems.
  • Any terms of endearment how to belong to your friend instead of your partner.
  • Whenever you are asked about the friendship, you get defensive.
  • Complaints or concerns brought up by your spouse are immediately shut down.

Signs Of Emotional Cheating


There’s No Physical Contact, So Why Does It Matter?

You choose the parts of yourself that you share with someone. What you choose to tell them—and what they share with you—can eventually start to shape the way you see that individual. This is why connections over the internet can feel so powerful because you can imagine the perfect relationship. No interaction feels mundane. For that reason, even long-distance emotional cheating over the internet can be seductive and leave you preoccupied.


Does Emotional Cheating Count As Infidelity In A Relationship?

Yes, emotional cheating counts as a betrayal of trust in a relationship. Although emotional cheating often looks and feels a lot like a friendship (minus the degradation of your connection to your partner), it is not. Emotional cheating essentially pulls your attention away from the relationship and makes it impossible to go any further or address issues.

Most of the time, emotional cheating begins as an escape from reality. You were having an argument with your partner and decided to tell your coworker that you are mildly attracted to and suddenly, there you are, in an emotionally charged relationship with someone else.

Even without the aspect of having sex with an outside individual, emotional cheating is still hurtful to your partner. If you are unhappy in your current relationship, it is better to talk about it and mutually end your commitment to one another instead of betraying your partner’s trust in such a way.


Does Emotional Cheating Count As An Affair In Marriage?

If emotional cheating counts as infidelity in a relationship, then it is most definitely infidelity when you are married. Again, even if there is no sex involved, you are emotionally unfaithful to your partner. When two people get married, they are vowing to love only their spouse. To support their spouse and remain reliable through the years.

When you betray that level of trust and love built up over the years, it is an affair. There is no way to justify an emotional affair, just like you cannot justify adultery.

Even when there are problems in the marriage, it is better to communicate with your partner. Struggling to sit down and talk about how lonely or tired you are? Consider visiting a marriage counselor. There are ways to save the marriage that does not involve emotionally cheating on your spouse.



There is no doubt that emotional cheating counts as infidelity or a breach of trust in relationships and marriages. It is best to talk about your partner’s boundaries, so you know what they would count as cheating in a friendship. If you sense that a friendship is shifting towards an emotional affair, talk to your partner about it. Find a therapist or counselor like the team at Couples Academy, and start working to empower the relationship that you have.

Couples Academy provides a safe environment for couples to work through any challenges you may be experiencing, including infidelity recovery. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.