How to end an emotional affair and still be friends?

My Questions and Answers | | Expert Author , Psychologist
Updated On: May 9, 2024
how to end an emotional affair and still be friends

I am in a complicated situation with Bharat, my friend for seven years. We have been very close as friends but recently, it turned into something more. Nothing physical ever happened but we had an emotional affair. Bharat has confided his deepest fears and dreams in me, we’ve shared intimate conversations about our innermost thoughts. We’re both married and we know it’s wrong. It’s best to go back just being friends because I know if we keep going, it will become more than just emotional. I don’t know how to go back after we’ve formed this intense bond. How can I approach Bharat about this without damaging our bond? I deeply respect Bharat and want our friendship to remain strong even after ending our affair. How can I handle this emotional affair that we have? Please help me.

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Answer:

It’s unfortunate that you’re stuck in this emotionally complicated space. Please take the opportunity to be kind to yourself, and avoid beating yourself up for not reciprocating your friend’s feelings. Wanting to go back to being friends will be a delicate conversation, so keep the following in mind:

  1. Be careful of the place and time you choose. Ideally, something comfortable and safe for both of you, so that neither person feels blindsided.
  2. Don’t rush into having this conversation. Take the time to understand your feelings and reasons for wanting to end the attachment. While you don’t owe your friend a relationship, giving him your reasoning can be the closure he needs to get through this.
  3. There is a high possibility that this conversation will not be received well by your friend. Hold space for his emotions. Remember that both of your emotional experiences are valid and foster empathy for your friend.
  4. While this conversation could be hurtful to your friend, he still deserves to know the truth of how you feel. Avoid holding back the truth in order to protect his feelings. Honesty will be better for both of you in the long run.
  5. Reaffirm your friendship and the genuineness of the connection. All the trouble you’re willing to go through shows that you value this friendship. Make sure that gets conveyed to your friend.
  6. Give him the space he needs to process all this. It’s highly possible you will also need some time and self care after this conversation. There is going to be some awkwardness and emotional pain on both sides here, so it’s important that both of you get the space you need to recover.
  7. Even if the conversation goes well, it will take some time for things to go back to normal. Be patient with yourself and your friend. Continue to engage with the friendship and address any discomfort or issues as and when they arise.

There isn’t a sure way of having this conversation and taking your friendship to what it used to be, nor can there be any guarantees that your friendship will come out of this unscathed. Make sure you remain empathetic and respectful through this conversation, set realistic expectations going into it and remain kind to yourself throughout.

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