Does An Emotional Affair Count As ‘Cheating’?

Infidelity | |
Updated On: December 29, 2023
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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 to 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 really cheating?

An emotional affair can have different implications to different people but the general consensus believes it to be an extramarital affair that involved being emotionally engaged with someone else.

What Is An Emotional Affair?

Affairs have been amongst the leading causes of divorce since years. What is often overlooked and side-lined, is an emotional affair that partners might have with their exes or friends outside their marriage.

If you’re still wondering about the moral validity of an emotional affair or whether it counts as cheating, read on to understand the correct definition of an emotional affair and how it could harm your relationship.

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 starts 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.

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. There is a constant effort 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. There is comfort in sharing all your weaknesses and fears without any kind of inhibitions that you have with your current partner

3. Guilt rules

You feel guilty talking about your new friend with your current partner. You definitely spend more time and are comfortable with your new friend. This is the start of an extra marital affair.

4. You share fantasies

You may not yet be physically intimate, but you surely have intimate feelings and fantasies. There is enough evidence to believe that if given a chance, both of you might act upon those fantasies.

5. You depend on the person emotionally

You want to remain in constant communication with him or her, either via texts, emails, phone calls, or even face to face. Unknowingly or even knowingly, you 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.

Related Reading: 11 Signs Of An Emotional Affair – You May Be Crossing A Line Without Even Realizing It

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.

There has been an increasing number of emotional affairs in the recent past due to the ease that texting provides in order to communicate. Emotional affairs have been primarily building around texting someone 24/7 and giving them the details of everything that happens around you. You obviously wouldn’t text someone you don’t like, that much.

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 also share things related to your aspirations and dreams, things you don’t even share with your partner. And you feel that this person values you, understands you and even supports you.

texting and emotional affairs
You may even start sexting without realizing that you are.

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

So does it count as cheating if you are only texting? Absolutely. If you are not a hundred percent sure that your feelings are platonic, back and forth texting with them would only worsen your emotional affair.

Take a step back and re-evaluate.

Related Reading: 12 Ways Office Affairs Can Spell Trouble For You

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.

How does an emotional affair start?

If you are already in a committed relationship or are married, why will a need for an emotional relationship arise? And if it does, maybe it’s just platonic? But if so, is an emotional affair really cheating? It must be confusing, right?

The most common reason why you feel a need for an emotional relationship is because of the pitfalls in your current relationship. Do you wonder about the the type of men who have affairs or the reasons that lead to them?

One may not be satisfied with some aspects of their marriage. 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 enough 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.

Is My Partner Cheating On Me?

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 different aspects of 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 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 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 become a traumatic experience for both the partners at a later stage.

Is An Emotional Affair Really Cheating?

A high level of emotional intimacy can make anyone’s partner feel insecure and left out. Any emotional bond with someone outside the marriage can become difficult for a spouse. 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 involved in an emotional affair that it impacts everything in his life — from marriage and family to work and career. As you continue to text and share the minutest of things, the emotional dependency keeps building up and you end up feeling so attached to this person that you cannot imagine your life without them.

Related Reading: Infidelity Recovery Stages To Heal From An Affair

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.

We hope you understand a little bit more about emotional affairs now than you did before! Remember to be kind and sensitive towards the emotions of your loved ones always. Marriages are not that hard. Keep communicating and growing. Happy marriage!


1. Is an emotional affair worse than a physical affair?

An affair outside of marriage, no matter the type cannot be excused. It is deeply hurtful and insulting to one’s partner and must be avoided at all costs.
However, if one has to compare, it can only be weighed subjective to the importance the partner places on physical and emotional intimacy. For one, a meaningless physical affair might be less inappropriate than a well thought emotional affair. For others, vice versa may be true.

2. Do emotional affairs turn into love?

If you don’t pull the brakes, it might. However, there are very few emotional affairs that are genuine and purely from a place of love. Most such affairs bite the dust even when one ends their marriage to be fully committed to the affair. Keep your eyes open, karma is real. Are you in love with a cheater too?

3. How long do emotional affairs usually last?

Most emotional affairs last for a few months. Either one of the parties ask for a physical rendezvous at a point and if the other agrees and they become physical, it goes beyond the scope of an emotional affair. If the other decides to not meet, the affair fizzles out on it’s own.

4. How common are emotional affairs?

Physical affairs are not as common as emotional affairs. We become a part of emotional affairs without even realizing it and only when there is a demand for physical indulgence from the other side, do we realize what we have done.
Although common, one should steer clear of such relationships.

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