What does it mean to cheat in a relationship? As the modern Indian couple struggles with the ideas of monogamy, polyamory and everything that falls in between, it’s hard to realize what’s cheating and what is not. They sometimes fail to realize themselves that they are having an emotional affair which is often hidden under the garb of a friendship. The signs of an emotional affair are always there.
They are faced with this very question. Does it mean I’m cheating if I casually flirt with a co-worker? There seems to be a consensus about going to bed with other people, most people would agree that that is in-fact cheating. But in case of emotional affair the lines are not well-demarcated, are rather hazy so without even realizing there is a possibility of getting entrenched in an emotional affair.
Is an emotional affair cheating?
Is only having a physical relationship cheating? Or having a mental dependence on someone is also cheating? You share your life’s every detail with them, you share your joys and sorrows and you share all your mood swings and achievements with them. You have a very strong emotional connection with the person. This connection is just between the two of you and not many people are aware of this closeness. And if you are wondering if your emotional affair is cheating, yes it is. It is called emotional infidelity.
7 Signs you are having an emotional affair
In this confusing atmosphere, what does it mean if you’re emotionally attached to another person? When two partners work all day, have little or no sex and find no time to be with each other, an emotional affair might happen. Without going into the rights and wrongs of the whole deal, let’s look at the signs, which may tell you that you are indulging in emotional infidelity.
1. Who do you call first?
This may seem trivial, but experts hold this as the most common sign of emotional cheating. Usually, if something big happens, whether good or bad, calling your partner to share the news is the norm in relationships.
If you are having an emotional affair you might find yourself calling this ‘more-than-a-friend’ first. Even before your partner.
In cases where you call your parents or best friends, this rule may not apply, but if you gravitate towards this third party in times of need or joy, you might be having an emotional affair.
2. Change in adviser
Your partner is your go-to person for advice and counsel. Even if you may not take their advice, you do share important decisions with them. This is a part of calling someone a partner.
Having an emotional affair makes you turn to the third person for advice.
Makes them play the role of the partner when you’re in need of advice. This may not be noticeable though, unlike physical cheating most parts of emotional cheating are subtle. But this is very much emotional infidelity.
3. Distance from the partner
Whether it’s solid advice or psychological needs, in an emotional affair we tend to replace our partners with another person. This replacement happens through actions which we may not always notice. This also means that a certain distance gets created in a relationship.
If you’re talking to your partner about your problems and you suddenly don’t, your partner may not notice at first. But the fact that you’re getting your fill of emotional sustenance from somewhere else means by default your partner is getting distanced.
Their role is diminishing in your life and you are indeed having an emotional affair.
4. Priorities change
The growing distance in a relationship shows clearly when it comes to priorities. Take Devesh for example, he used to rush home to his wife, Seema every evening so that they could have dinner together. Due to their schedules, this was the only meal they could share with each other properly and they had always made this a priority.
Ever since Devesh became friends with his colleague Radhika, he doesn’t make it home in time for dinner. He still spends time with his wife. She sits with him while he eats, or some nights waits for him. Since he and Radhika became the best of friends, staying late in the office became a norm for him. What none of them realized was that spending time with Radhika took precedence over having dinner with Seema. This shift in priorities might be small but these things have a tendency to snowball into full-blown emotional affairs.
5. Play a different role
Friendship is a nurturing relationship. It is often more nurturing than any other bond a human being forms in their life. However, there can be times when friends play roles which are that of a partner.
This can become complicated when there is an actual partner in the picture.
Going clothes shopping, buying groceries, making plans for decorating the house, these small mundane things often hold great importance in the life of a couple. Things that you share with your partner, the roles that you play in each other’s lives are significant yet often ignored.
If we start playing these roles with other people instead of our partner regularly, we stand the risk of making our partner feel ignored or replaced. The partner becomes affected by the emotional infidelity.
6. Texting all day
This is an absolute red flag. If you have to text this special person all day and if you are on instant alert the moment you hear the ping then this is a sure sign of an emotional affair.
If you have to delete all the conversations so that your spouse cannot see then there is something you need to hide. The conversations that you are having with this person whom you consider a great “friend” are not very normal ones.
This is a complete sign of emotional infidelity.
7. You want to be with them more than your spouse
When you are planning a holiday or a day out at the movies you keep wishing in your heart that you could be with that person instead of having to tag along with the spouse.
You think of long conversations sitting in a log cabin overlooking the hills as you keep sipping hot cuppa in the balcony.
The fact remains romantic relationships are a labour of love. To keep one active requires a lot of love and care. Small actions and reactions matter in these bonds. Unless attention is paid to the roles we play in a relationship and the love that is exchanged we run the risk of an emotional affair. And once we are entrenched in one it becomes very hard to push it away. Because you always tell yourself you are not sleeping with the person so you are not cheating.