What’s the difference between a friendship and an emotional affair. ***First, it’s important to state that emotional cheating is a behavior that relates to monogamous relationships. You can read the full article at: https://www.purewow.com/wellness/what-is-emotional-cheating
Emotional cheating is engaging in an emotional relationship with another partner outside of your primary committed relationship, in secret. Engaging in activities together, including text or phone conversations, where an emotional connection develops within the context of an intimate attraction. Physical intimacy is often not a component of the relationship – just yet. There may be a physical attraction in this new relationship, but that line hasn’t been crossed. This often allows partners engaging in emotional cheating to rationalize the relationship as acceptable. However, the core component of cheating or any affair, is secrecy or deception. Therefore, the emotional cheating has been shown to be perceived as much, if not more, destructive to relationships.
Q: What makes it different than simply a friendship?
Emotional cheating differs from a friend in the quality of the connection and the intimacy shared. The intimacy that’s being cultivated in the relationship is satisfying/satiating the cheater’s intimacy needs that are now being sought from this new partner, rather than their committed long-term partner. Emotional affairs may start off as friends, and then when intimacy grows or moments of connection become more frequent and intense, the relationships evolves.
Q: How can it affect a relationship?
Emotional affairs have been shown to be perceived as threatening or worse than physical affairs. As committed relationships are maintained and grown out of trust, the trust in the relationship is threatened by emotional affairs. Lies, deceit and withdrawal from the primary relationship are all possible implications for the cheater. For the partner back home, feelings of betrayal, rejection (“am I not enough”) and disappointment all fuel dissatisfaction and decreased trust in the relationship and their partner. Often times emotional affairs occur in the context of relationships tensions, where intimacy isn’t being met. Unfortunately, rather than being transparent about the cheater’s desire to explore other relationships, these individuals engage in affairs to meet their needs and disengaging in their relationship.
Q: Is it worse than a physical/ sexual affair?
Some research has shown that it is, particularly when emotional affairs last for a long time, these can be as destructive if not more than physical affairs. This is a very individual perception, so needs to be treated as such.
Q: How do you avoid emotionally cheating on your partner?
For the emotional cheaters:
- Check-in with yourself if you’ve at the beginnings of your emotional affair. Ask yourself, why don’t I want to tell my partner about this new relationship? What are my needs that aren’t being met that are now being met in this new relationship? How am I trying to work on my primary relationship, when I’m creating distance by engaging in this emotional affair? Be honest with yourself about your desires and needs- then be honest with your partner. If you truly want this new relationship, be intentional with your choice- but choose what you want to do.
- If you already feel guilty about a budding emotional affair: take distance from this new partner. Try focusing on your own self-care. If you’re not wanting to spend more time with your primary partner, find other activities that enrich you.