I had heard that friendship and emotional cheating are always divided by a blurry line. But that I myself would one day transition from one to the other was something I had never imagined. Now when I talk to friends I see them often debating on the topic of emotional cheating vs friendship. I prefer to withdraw and sip my wine sitting in one corner of the room and hear them talk. My perspective on emotional cheating vs friendship would be totally different from theirs.
They had no clue when friendship could end suddenly and emotional cheating could start. I had.
(As told To Shanaya Agarwal)
What Is An Emotional Friendship?
If you ask me this question I would say that it is an intense friendship with a person with whom you feel an emotional connect. Usually, women share this kind of friendship among themselves but it does happen between a man and woman also.
Sometimes in our life we have someone who has a very special place in our hearts, supports us through the rough patches and are jubilant with our achievements. We share everything with them.
Vinay was such a friend to me. We grew up together and were friends for 30 long years until our emotional friendship took a turn and became an emotional affair. And somewhere in the debate between emotional cheating vs friendship, we are now stuck.
Emotional Cheating Vs Friendship
Vinay and I were family friends. Our fathers were very close friends that’s how we met at the age of 5. His father moved back from the US and bought a home next to ours and hence we became neighbours too. Our summer holidays were spent in each other’s homes and our family holidays were spent together too as we took the train or the plane to far off places.
We could not imagine life without each other. Then Vinay went off to college in the US but we stayed in touch and would catch up like old times when he would come down to India. As luck would have it, we both moved to Delhi together after finding jobs in our respective fields. In fact, I was allowed to move to Delhi by my conservative parents because Vinay was there to look after me. Something he did with utmost sincerity.
Related Reading: Does an emotional affair count as ‘cheating’?
We remained best of friends and would hole up in each other’s apartments during the weekends to binge watch movies on TV. But never for once did we feel any kind of physical attraction.
At that time it was pure friendship because we had separate friends’ groups, we went out with our crushes and had separate lives. We were never jealous or edgy about each other.
But now I know I am having an emotional affair with a married man because I cannot tolerate his wife, I hate it if he is out with his female colleagues and I have to stay connected with him on WhatsApp 24×7. If he doesn’t reply to a text of mine for 10 minutes I get angry. I need him to tell me constantly that he loves me more than anyone else in this world. I am totally dependent on him emotionally and I am honest enough to know what we have now is emotional cheating and not friendship anymore.
Levels of emotional affairs
It wasn’t like this always. There are levels of emotional affairs and ours has gone through that too. Our friendship was a given. Neither Vinay’s wife nor my husband had any issues with our closeness. We could be chatting at midnight over the phone and it was perfectly alright because I guess they treated our relation like the one that existed between a brother and a sister.
We were indeed very close. We had shared our life together. So we were privy to secrets that our partners didn’t even know. After having a tiff with the boss it was Vinay I wanted to talk to, seek solace from. I felt he understood me and could guide me better. Most often it would be Vinay who was my go-to man and not my husband. I didn’t realize then that this was our first level of an emotional affair.
As the days went by if Vinay kept away any information from me I would get upset and if I informed him in the last moment about a girlie dine out he would get upset. We hadn’t even realised that we had reached the next level of our emotional affair. We wanted to be the most important people in each other’s lives.
Then came the jealousy. If Vinay went out with a female colleague I would keep asking him questions about how she looked, what she wore and how she behaved.
Vinay answered patiently and then one day I realised I couldn’t take it if he spent time with his wife even. I would keep quizzing him what they did where they went and even probed into their sex life. Vinay instead of getting angry told me all details. I guess we had reached the last level of our emotional affair.
There was nothing private about each other’s sex lives although we never indulged in the act with each other. In that debate between emotional cheating vs friendship in our life the former had won. We were now having a full-fledged emotional affair.
Related Reading: What Are The Consequences Of Affairs Between Married Couples?
Intensity of emotional infidelity
When a solid friendship becomes an emotional affair it becomes intense emotional infidelity. I realised that when Vinay and I couldn’t imagine a day without interacting with each other. Then we started going for coffee and movie dates without telling our respective partners. If there wasn’t any guilt involved why did we not tell them?
I came from work and usually got busy in the kitchen. The phone would be on the refrigerator and I would spend a really long time tossing up something in the kitchen while I texted Vinay. I hardly had a conversation with my husband when I came home. I would sit with the kids to do their homework and then maybe go for a walk after dinner. Earlier my husband and I would go for those walks together but I started coming up with excuses to go alone because I could have a phone conversation with Vinay then.
Related Reading:Signs when a friendship becomes a ready ground for an affair
Now my interactions with my husband are limited only to conversations on the children. I have emotionally moved away from my husband. I feel guilty because he now realizes why this has happened. He has told me a couple of times he shouldn’t have accepted Vinay as a good friend. It was getting awkward when the four of us met so we have stopped meeting socially.
The intensity of our emotional infidelity is such that we might be living in separate homes but mentally we are with each other all day and night. So we are not completely there with our families even if the physical presence is there. It’s kind of complicated and hard to explain but it’s an intense bonding that has led to this emotional infidelity.
Related Reading: An affair that lit up my life
We don’t know where we are heading
Our intimate friendship has turned into an emotional attachment. Love was always there. Isn’t it part of friendship? You do love and care for your closest friend. But that love has changed as jealousy and possessiveness has settled in. I can’t pinpoint when exactly this happened, when our close friendship became an emotional affair. Maybe it happened because with time we realised that our respective marriages lack that communication and mental bonding that we have always had. Maybe we would have made great life partners if we had fallen in love at the right time. But this transition from friendship to love happened a bit too late.
So far we have refrained from any physical intimacy because that would complicate matters even further. But nowadays when we go out I see myself noticing Vinay’s lips a lot and thinking how it would feel if we kissed. Not the right thought I know. Or is it?
Emotional cheating or friendship? Now the blurry line does not exist for me anymore because I am aware I am in an intense emotional affair with Vinay and the feeling is so strong that our lives would feel meaningless if we decide to move away from each other. So this relationship will continue but what will be the consequence of this intimate attachment I really don’t know.
Perhaps you can help me! Help me by letting me know where I am wrong and how can I get out of this?