Does an emotional affair count as ‘cheating’?

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emotional affairs cheating

We come across the word ‘cheating’ under many circumstances – a guy cheating on a girl, a wife cheating on her husband, vice versa, but what does cheating really imply? Cheating could mean a lot of different things, for different people under different circumstances. Cheating could mean having another affair without physical intimacy, or with physical intimacy. So, if a committed person is having an affair with someone else, without getting physically involved, does that count as cheating?

Is an emotional affair cheating?

Well, it is difficult to pinpoint. An emotional affair that starts on a simple ‘friendship’ and turns into ’emotional dependence’ as you cross the line slowly can be quite confusing. What started with normal texts suddenly becomes a part of your daily life. By definition, an emotional affair is when you start channeling all your energy, time and attention to a person of the opposite sex, but are already in a relationship with someone else and you don’t tell them about your new ‘friend’. Also, you are comfortable talking about the pitfalls of your current relationship, with your newfound emotional connection.

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This high level of intense intimacy can make anyone’s partner feel insecure and left out. Any emotional bond with someone outside the marriage can become difficult for a marriage. Yes, this is called emotional cheating or emotional infidelity.

Most emotional affairs end in physical rendezvous, and one has to either give up their marriage or the emotional partner eventually. The problem is that one gets so much involved in an emotional affair that it impacts everything in life – from marriage and family to work and career. As you continue to share and text the minutest of things, and the emotional dependency keeps on building up, you end up feeling so attached to this person that you do not feel inhibited from sleeping with him/her.

What are the signs of emotional cheating?

If you are confused about the new budding quasi-relationship, some of the signs that suggest that you are in an emotional affair are as follows.

  1. You miss the person: You see him or her on a regular basis and go to any extent to see that your current partner doesn’t know. You would love to prioritize them on your list and see that you spend more time with them than anyone else
  2. You put your best foot forward: You dress up and try to be impeccable. You feel comfortable sharing all your weaknesses and fears without any kind of inhibitions that you have with your current partner
  3. Guilt rules: You feel guilty and uncomfortable talking about your new friend with your current partner. You definitely spend more time and are comfortable with your new friend
  4. You share fantasies: You may not yet be physically intimate, but you surely have intimate feelings and fantasies. You both also share your fantasies verbally, though you don’t get into the act itself, yet
  5. You depend on the person emotionally: You want to remain in constant communication with him or her, either as texts, emails, phone or even face to face. You unknowingly or even knowingly start depending on that person on an emotional level
  6. You don’t feel inhibited: You are cozy and comfortable, sharing all your fears, experiences, feelings, etc. without facing any kind of inhibitions or rationality

Most women may forgive a sexual encounter that happened one odd night, but an emotional affair speaks loudly about intimacy and affection, and wives have a hard time processing that their marriage lacked these. Sexual infidelity may just be physical, but an emotional affair is always rooted in deeper levels of affection.

Emotional cheating with texting

You feel the need to constantly communicate with that person. It is not always possible that you talk over the phone. The next easiest thing is texting. The advantage of texting is that you can even text when someone is around you. That way your privacy is maintained and no one actually knows what you are talking about.

You talk to this person as if you are actually in a relationship and are much more comfortable around this person than your current partner. You share everything, just as it is happening. You also share things related to your aspirations and dreams, what you don’t even share with your partner. And you feel that this person values you, understands you and even supports you.

You may even start sexting without realizing that you are. It comes across as innocent to you. Usually, this relationship strengthens by texting in ninety percent of the cases, claims a study.

Emotional affairs can hurt

Emotional affairs at work

It is very easy and convenient to get into an emotional affair at work. Some factors that are conducive to this circumstance are that you are spending long hours around this person, there is constant communication and you even share good and bad moments together. You bond over stresses at your workplace and share common goals that make you comfortable with each other. You start by talking about things on a day when you are emotionally vulnerable, and gradually start to share everything about your marriage and problems. Your aspirations are not hidden from this person, and he/she may even offer to help you achieve them. You also spend time continuously on a day-to-day scale and it’s easy to grow in close proximity to someone at work.

You like the support, you appreciate the help, you get to vent out and you have someone who’s got your back. Perfect conditions for an affair, the disaster recipe.

Most emotional relationships begin in the workplace.

Related reading: 12 ways office affairs can spell trouble for you

How does an emotional affair start?

If you are already in a committed relationship or a bonding of marriage, why will a need for an emotional relationship arise? It must be confusing, right?


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The most common reason why you feel a need for an emotional relationship is because of the pitfalls in your current relationship. You may not be satisfied with one or more aspects. It could be a lacuna in the emotional space, physical space or even with respect to compatibility between the two. Most likely, there is something lacking in your relationship making you vulnerable to seek that outside.

This creates a craving, which one tends to seek outside the present relationship. You look for emotional support from someone. You feel a sense of satisfaction when you crib about the negative factors of your present relationship.

What to do in case of a budding emotional relationship?

There are two parts to this. If you are married, especially with kids, you must seriously consider solving the aspects that you think are the problem. The best way to do so is by stating the problem and discussing the ways to overcome it. You must consider the future of your kids when you talk in serious terms of separating or even divorcing. If nothing helps solve your problem, then you might have to look at other options.

If you are not in a bond of marriage, you can rationalize your present relationship. Talk about the lacunae you feel and let your partner express what is actually happening. Your emotional relationship may just be similar to a relationship without a strong base. You must understand that it is more like a reflex where you grab the opportunity, similar to revenge.

Studies suggest that a majority of rebound relationships and emotional relationships do not last for long and are not steady. It is important that there is mutual trust, respect and love between the two in a relationship. Your partner is who you love. It is important that you are able to discuss your distress and issues with your partner. If this is not the case, it is imperative that you reconsider the relationship itself. If you are not comfortable with each other, it may be a traumatic experience for both the partners at a later stage.

It might make things worse if you plan to keep parts of both relationships. If you are able to work out your current relationship, it is best that you cut off the other relationship. It might cause a stir in your current relationship and its future.

If you are married or in a serious relationship, should you be in touch with your ex?

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