From An Innocent Friendship To A Sexual Affair – How Emotional Infidelity Ruins Relationships

Infidelity | |
Updated On: February 21, 2024

The transition from friendship to emotional cheating to sexual affairs is very rapid, and if not kept in check or altered in time, it can completely ruin a relationship.

How beautiful it feels to be head-over-heels in love with your partner! From sharing every little detail with them, making sure they are the first ones to know about any new event that happens during the day, to waiting for them to come home so that you two can spend quality time together.

Now imagine that your partner does not look at you the same way. You are not the first person they call when something goes wrong, nor are you the first person they think about when they want to share something. The first person they think about is someone else. Someone they are not sexually involved with but still share intimacy with them strong enough to make you feel like you are in the second place. Sadly but very prevalently, this is what emotional infidelity is.

To explain an emotional affair better, it is a bond shared by a partner with another person outside of the relationship, where they have a closeness similar to romantic intimacy. The infidel shares their vulnerabilities with someone else and goes to them for personal advice.

A physical relationship may or may not exist between them, but they feel the deep emotions that they once felt for their partner.

It starts as an innocent friendship. Well, it seems harmless, but if your partner finds the need to hide the bond from you as well, maybe it was never innocent, to begin with. It then moves on to an emotional affair, and then, in most cases, a sexual intimacy. The transition from friendships to emotional cheating to sexual relations is a swift one, and if not kept in check, it can completely ruin a relationship.

Is an emotional relationship cheating (even when no sex is involved)? 

Simply put, an act of involvement of a person with someone else outside of the relationship to the extent that it threatens the sanctity of their relationship can easily be categorised as cheating. Your partner may not be indulging in sexual activities with anybody else. However, they are still cheating on you if their “friendship” with someone else is followed by their lack of interest in your relationship, excuses of working late, hiding of phone, dressing up every single day which is unusual, defensiveness and anger, indulging in activities that do not involve you or being weirdly sweet to you for no specific reason.

Is an emotional relationship cheating
Is an emotional relationship cheating?

So, is an emotional relationship cheating even if no sex is involved? Yes, it is, because your partner is not open to you about their relationship with the other person, and are deliberately keeping you out of the loop.

Ask yourself this question: do emotional affairs damage a relationship according to you? If you find your partner sharing texts telling someone else about how they had such a bad day, and that the only thing that made them feel good as their company, and you have no idea about how, when, or why did your partner have a bad day, would you not be hurt?

If you and your significant other shared open space to talk about anything, then your significant other had no reason to hide their friendship with the other person, even if that person belongs to the same sex as you. Nonetheless, your partner conveniently chose to lie to you about that person, or in some cases, you were never even aware of that person’s existence. Wouldn’t you label this form of betrayal as cheating?

Do emotional affairs turn sexual?

The nature of emotional infidelity heavily depends on why one’s partner is resorting to another person outside of the relationship. There are times when a person in a relationship is dissatisfied with the kind emotional responses that their partners give.

We have often heard women complain that their boyfriends or husbands don’t listen to them, and we have even heard men complaint that their girlfriends or wives are incredibly defensive and react very badly. In cases like these, where the behaviour of the partner is the sole reasons a person finds solace in sharing intimacy with somebody else, the chances of emotional infidelity turning to sexual infidelity is comparatively low.

That being said, if someone cannot stop themselves from lying to their significant other about the existence of some other person in their lives, it is unlikely that they can stop themselves at merely being “friendly” with them. An emotional affair can easily slip into a sexual one if the electricity of secrecy incites the passion and the emotions and boundaries are not kept in check. (Healthline, n.d.)

Related Reading: Therapist’s Tips On How To Deal With Emotional Infidelity

Can a relationship survive emotional infidelity?

It can incredibly be shattering to learn about your partner’s emotional infidelity. You probably think that the worst has happened, and it is only a downward spiral from here on. However, you need to pull yourself out of these negative thoughts before they consume you.

Can a relationship survive emotional infidelity?
Can a relationship survive emotional infidelity?

A relationship can survive emotional infidelity if the right measures are taken. Emotional infidelity can undoubtedly damage a relationship, but with specific tips, you and your partner can recover from the trauma of their passionate affair and even become closer than before. Here are particular tips you can follow to make your relationship survive the emotional infidelity: (Huffpost, n.d.)

  1. Talk to your partner about it. Discuss what went wrong in your relationship, and ask them where did you lack that they had to go to another person. Have a healthy discussion about it, and then work on your own flaws.
  2. The secret ingredient to any happy relationship is friendship. Therefore, you and your significant other need to foster intimacy. Talk to each other like you’d talk to your friends, and always appreciate the qualities you like about each other. The admiration goes a long way.
  3. Great relationships do not exist; naturally, they are formed. Work hard to make your relationship beautiful. Pay attention to what your partner needs and always look for each other in happy and sad times.
  4. It may be challenging to get over the fact that the person you love had an emotional affair with someone else. You want to forgive them, but you can’t forget the hard times. In such a case, talk to your partner about it, and if it does not help, seek counselling. A counsellor can objectively understand your problem and help you deal with them so you can see a happier future in your relationship.

How to protect a relationship from emotional infidelity?

Once you and your partner realise where you both went wrong, you can then move on to a better place where you can focus on what to do to rebuild the trust in your relationship and make sure that your intimacy is never again affected in the future by a third party. Here is how to protect a relationship from emotional infidelity:

Nurture your relationship. Talk to each other. Share essential details of your life, and when one person is sharing, the other person has to really listen to them. Always admire and appreciate each other. Make your relationship full of love and understanding.

Friendship to an emotional affair

Be transparent and honest with each other. If there are certain aspects of your partner that you do not like, talk to them about it instead of making assumptions that they will never understand. Believe it or not, communication truly goes a long way. Do not keep secrets from each other. Always be honest.

Build the trust of each other. You are undoubtedly heartbroken about your partner’s emotional infidelity, but give them a complete chance to make it up to you. Let them make things right and see how your relationship blossoms!

Do not flirt or get intimate with anybody else except your partner. If you love your significant other, there is no need to flirt, tease, or get intimate with any other person. This would only hurt their feelings and bring a breach in your relationship again. Commit to the promise of loyalty. Do not tread lightly when it comes to fidelity. Commitment is a choice, and you need to make the right choice of being loyal.

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Take care of your self. If you are not happy with yourself, your partner will not be pleased with you. Look after your health and do things that make you happy. Do not let your entire existence be dependent on your relationship. There is more to life than just your partner. Enjoy every aspect of it. Loyalty is a complicated concept to tread on. The lines to honest are so blurry, they are almost invisible, and people never realise when they cross it. That is how innocent friendships turn into romantic intimacy and eventually, sexual infidelity. Emotional infidelity hurts just as much as sexual infidelity. Emotional infidelity has the power to ruin relationships, but your love has the potential to rebuild your relationship as well. All you need is to know how much you matter to each other and work from thereon.

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