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Signs of an Emotional Affair

Signs of an emotional affair include developing non-sexual emotional intimacy with a person who is not your spouse. When engaging in an emotional affair, a person will likely conceal it from their partner and may resort to dishonesty to keep the relationship a secret.

Beginning of an emotional affair

In most cases, an emotional affair begins as an innocent friendship. However, if someone devotes a lot of time and emotional energy to a close friendship outside of their marriage, there’s a chance that the relationship will develop into an emotional attachment that ends up endangering and harming the person’s intimacy and trust with their spouse.

Because there is no sexual contact at this stage of the relationship, many people believe that having an emotional affair is okay. But most of us accurately understand that this is a form of infidelity. Additionally, emotional affairs can serve as a springboard to sexual infidelity. For most spouses, being duped, betrayed, and lied to is the most painful aspect of their partners emotional cheating.

Regardless of whether you’ve discovered the affair at the emotional stage or if it’s already transitioned to include a physical, sexual component, the following information will help you to detect and address the affair.


Ten signs of an emotional affair

• Changes in communication with partner
• Changes in attitude towards partner
• Increased time away from home
• Increased attention to their appearance
• Indifference to relationship with spouse 
• Lying or being evasive
• Reduced interest in sex with partner
• Money issues – increased or hidden expenses
• Change in technology use or access
• Avoidance of partner

Signs of an emotional affair

Common reasons for emotional affairs

  • Unaddressed problems in the marriage 
  • Financial stress
  • Loss of a child
  • Breakdown of communication
  • Mental health issues or addiction
  • Loss of affection or caring between spouses
  • Physical health issues, especially ones that create sexual obstacles


What is emotional infidelity?

Emotional infidelity is when someone spends much of their emotional energy outside of their marriage to gain both emotional companionship and support from another friendship that they should be getting from their spouse.

A person having an emotional affair may feel more emotionally connected to the other person than they do to their spouse. They may also feel more romantic or sexual tension added to the emotional intimacy.

It’s probable that an emotional affair has started if you feel that you or your spouse is spending most of their emotional energy on someone else and are discussing intimate thoughts and feelings with someone outside the marriage. Sharing at this level is a catalyst to an emotionally charged romantic relationship that can lead to physical infidelity.


Platonic Friendship vs. Emotional Affair

Friendship vs. Emotional Affair

A platonic friendship can rapidly turn into an emotional affair when intimate information about the married couple is shared with the third party. Many times the door to an emotional affair is opened by a spouse asking for marriage advice or seeking positive affirmation from the person they’ve developed an unhealthy emotional relationship with. 

The degree of emotional intimacy and investment in an emotional affair is often concealed or minimized from a spouse or partner, which is one of the distinctions between an emotional affair and a close platonic friendship.

Another important difference is those who engage in emotional cheating usually feel a sexual attraction to each other. Sometimes the attraction is acknowledged and welcomed early in the relationship. Other times it doesn’t surface until after the emotional attachment in the relationship become strong enough that thoughts of infidelity and cheating become alluring.

How an Emotional Affair Starts

Seemingly insignificant behaviors with someone outside of the marriage that violate acceptable boundaries in place to protect the marriage relationship. 

When considered separately, these items may not be classified as infidelity, but they are unquestionably breaches of trust. When looked at collectively, these behaviors are easily seen as paving the way towards eventual overtly cheating and a sexual relationship.

You may start out by interacting with your friend in ways that don’t need an emotional bond or reciprocity, such enjoying their social media posts or frequently checking their profiles. This can feed an unhealthy emotional dependency on this relationship.

On the other hand, an emotional affair usually involves both partners and is a much greater emotional investment by both parties. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of the other person as the emotional affair escalates.

It’s likely that you’ll eventually become mentally obsessed with the other individual. They’ll take up more mental space, which may cause you to change your behavior to create more opportunities to spend with them. When you reach this point, it’s a sign that your marriage and the relationship with your spouse is in great danger.

The Telltale Signs of Emotional Cheating

Signs of Emotional Cheating

Emotional affairs by their very nature proceed toward increased emotional intimacy and investment. These behaviors may appear gradually and unintentionally, but they indicate that your close friendship has become an emotional affair:

– Believing your friend understands you better than your spouse
– Looking forward to time alone with your friend
– Covertly communicating with your friend
– Spending less time with your spouse
– Giving your friend personal gifts 
– Hiding or minimizing the friendship 
– Not wanting to spend time with your spouse in intimate situations 
– Being preoccupied or daydreaming about your friend
– Talking about your feelings, thoughts, and problems with your friend rather than your spouse
– Withdrawing from your spouse
– Saying, “We’re just friends,” in response to questions regarding emotional cheating from your spouse

Honest Questions to Ask Yourself

If you believe that a friendship may have become an emotional affair, you need to ask yourself these questions:

• Is your marriage plagued by recurring feelings of hostility and conflict? 
• Do you feel emotionally distanced from your partner?
• Is it difficult to communicate with your spouse?
• Do you share more with your friend than with your spouse?
• Do you believe that your friend understands you better than your partner?
• Are you sexually attracted to your friend?
• Is saying, “We’re just friends,” your way of explaining an emotionally inappropriate relationship with your friend? 
• Is your partner aware of the nature or depth of your friendship?
• Do you prefer spending time with your friend over your partner?
• Do you avoid discussing encounters with this friend when you talk to your partner about your day?

Signs Your Spouse Is Having an Emotional Affair

Signs spouse is having emotional affair

Here are more red flags to watch out for if you suspect your spouse is having an emotional affair:

• Your partner begins to distance themselves from you.
• They disrespect or become more critical of you.
• When you’re nearby, your spouse becomes secretive. They may hide their phone, or abruptly turn off the computer screen when you enter the room.
• Your spouse repeatedly says they need to put in extra time at work on a project with this particular friend/co-worker.
•The friend of your spouse is frequently brought up. It seems like you hear a lot about this person’s thoughts and opinions. Or you may suspect that your partner is interested in someone else, but they’re keeping it a secret.
• Your gut tells you that something is wrong. You don’t get jealous often and are generally a trusting person, yet something doesn’t feel right.
• When you attempt to confront your spouse about your concerns, you encounter defensiveness or are made to feel foolish.
• They can demonstrate apathy towards their partner’s sexual interest or needs.
• They can become increasingly argumentative and quick to anger.
• An increased preoccupation with their personal appearance.
• Introduction of new and unfamiliar sexual positions.
• Unexplained changes in habits or schedule.
• Your spouse abandons their religious faith and friendships.
• Lying – once they lie about the relationship it becomes easier to lie about everything.

How to deal with a spouse showing signs of an emotional affair

Take action quickly. Most experts believe that you should confront your spouse with your concerns quickly before things escalate. In most cases I would agree with that strategy.

Admitting an emotional affair

But you may want to consider waiting until you have more information and facts before confronting your spouse. You should also assess the potential consequences of the accusation and confrontation.

Most times you confront a spouse with suspicions of cheating, they will deny it. Unless you have hard proof most people won’t admit to infidelity. And very importantly, they may still be in denial themselves about their inappropriate attachment to their “friend”.

Hopefully, your spouse will recognize and admit that their emotional dependence on this relationship has crossed a marital boundary and is dangerous to your marriage. This should bring about repentance and sorrow and them asking you for forgiveness. As well as a willingness to work on your marriage.

But regardless of whether your partner admits to having an affair, you will almost certainly want and need help working through your marital issues. You may want to consider seeing a good marriage counselor, pastor or trusted mentor to assist you in the trust restoration process that will need to take place to secure your marriage relationship.

Setting appropriate and reasonable boundaries will be crucial to your success. A skilled professional can help you to do that. They’re also a great reality check for both you and your spouse when it comes to determining what a reasonable boundary is. They can also provide you with additional resources to improve your life and marriage.

If your partner refuses to recognize or admit that their inappropriate relationship is threatening your marriage, you should seek advice from a therapist for yourself. You’ll have your own emotions to work through. And they can teach you how to set boundaries with your spouse and share other advice to maximize your chances of saving your marriage.

Protecting your marriage

Protecting your marriage from an affair

Protecting a marriage relationship from emotional infidelity requires the participation of both spouses. A marriage relationship is most effectively safeguarded when both parties collaborate to establish a solid basis of friendship, trust, love and respect.

Other suggestions for improving a marriage relationship after an emotional affair

• Healthy boundaries and mutual accountability
Forgive your spouse
• Treating each other with love and respect
• Maintaining daily communication on events, plans, and personal feelings in addition to practical matters
• Dating and finding ways to spend quality time together on a regular basis
• Learn and use conflict resolution skills
• Set goals together – health, marriage, family, financial etc.
• Take up a hobby or work on a common interest together

We hope you’ve found this article on Signs of an Emotional Affair helpful. If your marriage needs help recovering from an affair, see this article Recovering from an Affair.

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