An emotional affair is one that may become physical, but not necessarily. Emotional affairs can sometimes be even more damaging to a relationship than sexual affairs. Emotional affairs take away from intimacy within the relationship and create a wedge between two partners.
Sometimes people think a relationship is innocent if nothing sexual is going on. Relationships that start out as a friendship with someone of the opposite sex can lead to an emotional affair, even without the parties intending them to. The relationship is often a “slippery slope” that becomes more intimate and secretive over time. As the emotional affair progresses in intimacy, the marriage suffers.
Warning signs of an emotional affair include secretive behaviors. A person engaging in an emotional affair says things and does things with someone that they would not be comfortable doing and saying in front of their spouse. Private time is arranged with the person and intimate secrets are shared that are not shared with the spouse.
People engaging in an emotional affair continue withdrawing from their spouse as they spend more time daydreaming about the object of their affection. Emotional and physical intimacy within the marriage dwindles. Behaviors are justified by repeating “we’re just friends” when asked about the relationship. Sometimes the friendship is kept secret from the spouse.
The person having the affair begins to feel that the person they are having the affair with understands them better than their spouse. Secret conversations continue as the affair progresses, and personal gifts are sometimes exchanged. Finding private time with the person continues to be important, and sometimes conversations turn sexual in nature.
An emotional affair can happen at the office or with a friend’s spouse. They also happen online. Sometimes people engage in conversations in chat rooms or via email with people they have never met and they begin to romanticize the relationship. Online affairs can be equally damaging to relationships as affairs that happen in person. Emotional affairs are all about causing a lack of intimacy within the marriage.
If you suspect your partner is having an affair, talk to your partner about your suspicions. If you have found yourself engaging in a relationship that is headed toward an emotional affair, end the relationship. If you or your partner is engaging in an emotional affair, counseling may be needed to help try to repair the marriage. Emotional affairs lead to many hurt feelings and many problems within the relationship.