An emotional affair happens in an area of uncertainty. You become aware that you have become more than friends with someone other than your partner. There may be no physical or sexual interaction, but the connection is emotional, it involves a sense of intimacy, an attraction, an emotional connection, and importantly, the feeling that you wouldn’t want your partner to find out about it.
Social media means that it is more possible to have covert communication round the clock. Whereas contact might have been limited to the workplace now it can be round-the-clock. The grey area of whether we are becoming more than friends has become greyer in a twenty-four-hour society.
Is an Emotional Affair the same as Cheating?
The relationship will most likely start innocently, but over time one or both parties begin to realise they are more invested than they first thought.
- Though an emotional affair might remain non-sexual, that doesn’t mean it won’t be destructive.
One of the key indicators is that you find yourself keeping the emotional affair secret from your partner because you know that they might disapprove. Secrecy is sometimes proof that you have got further into something than you meant to, or feel you should have.
In an emotional affair, we find ourselves becoming drawn into a way of relating that we feel we want to keep hidden, out of plain sight. We know that to talk about it feels complicated. We know that our partner might feel betrayed and deceived.
If we can find a way to talk about it, it may help and take the heat and building intensity out of the secret relationship. The more we feel we are becoming drawn into something secret and private, the more complicated and potentially damaging things can become.
An Emotional Affair makes us feel understood
The sense that we need to find someone new who will better understand our emotions may be an indicator of deeper emotional problems, perhaps of traumas that we haven’t been able to speak openly about.
This can create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy where instead of talking with your partner, you find yourself becoming more invested in the other person, in the emotional affair, and the new person becomes your confidante.
In the end, finding out that your partner is emotionally involved with someone else can be a relief. You may have long thought that something is wrong in the relationship, they may have denied it and you may have started to feel paranoid or stopped trusting yourself.
If you start to feel that your partner has stopped sharing with you, you need to find a way to discuss the situation.
When the emotional affair does come out you might refer to it as just a friendship. It may be true that there is no sexual element but that doesn’t mean that it might not be threatening to your relationship.
Weaknesses in relationships and Emotional Affairs
Perhaps you didn’t know or hadn’t acknowledged that your relationship wasn’t as secure or satisfying as you thought. You may have stayed in it because it’s comfortable and familiar. Being drawn into an emotional affair reveals the weakness in your present situation.
How do we find a way to take our instincts more seriously?
If there is something in your present relationship that isn’t working it is better to explore it rather than burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away. The opportunity is that we take our growing emotional attachment as a trigger to look more closely at our relationship. If we ignore it the problems may well become more serious.
In an emotional affair, we start to share our misgivings about our life with the new person rather than our partner. You might talk to them in depth about your marital or relationship problems, this does more to create a bond with them that can increase the sense that they understand you better than your partner does.
Strong healthy relationships are based on trust and honesty, so emotional affairs can be very damaging. They are a sign of something that’s missing or going wrong in your relationship – realising that you are becoming drawn into an emotional affair can give you an opportunity to look at this.
After an emotional affair, re-establishing trust can be hard work and take a long time.
Perhaps you’ve felt unable to talk to your partner for a long time. It may be that the familiarity of your present relationship has dulled your interest in them. Or because they get angry or are easily upset easily if you want to talk about anything difficult. If you’re in a relationship where you feel a lack of connection with your partner it can leave you feeling lonely and isolated – so when someone else comes along and shows an interest, it can feel like what you’ve been longing for.
Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often key to developing a clearer understanding of the state of our emotional relationships, of how they developed, of how they might need attention.
By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to your partner.
The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed.
I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years. My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.
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