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Are You Having An Emotional Affair? Find Out

When most of us think about an affair, we picture a secret rendezvous and physical betrayal. However, it is possible to have an affair without ever meeting someone or even being intimate with him or her.

This is known as the emotional affair, and it can be just as devastating to a relationship as a sexual affair. Because an emotional affair often can happen from afar and without any physical contact, the transgressor may feel that he or she has done nothing wrong. That denial can keep the offender from feeling guilt and passing the relationship off as a friendship.

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Statistics show that women have higher numbers of emotional affairs, while men seem to rank higher in instances of sexual infidelity. So how do you know if you're having an emotional affair?

Let's start by defining what this type of relationship issue is. An emotional affair can start innocently enough and morph into something more serious. When a person in a committed relationship begins to invest their emotional energy outside of their partnership into another person, including moral support and companionship, he or she can be said to be involved in an emotional affair.


What are signs that you are having an emotional affair?

If you have a feeling that what you are doing is wrong or are unsure if a new friendship is inappropriate, there are some tell-tale signs of an emotional affair that can confirm your behavior.

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  • Most or all of the meetings and conversations you have with the other person are kept a secret from your partner, friends and family.
  • You say and do things you would never do in front of your spouse or significant other.
  • You share emotions, ideas and thoughts with the other person that you don't with your partner.
  • You are increasingly preoccupied and find yourself "daydreaming" about the other person.
  • Interest in sexual or emotional intimacy with your spouse has dwindled or become non-existent.
  • You feel like your new friend understands you better than your partner.

  • You think crush-like thoughts and about your possible future with this person.
  • Increasing sexual tension is present and you often touch this person in "harmless" ways, such as a pat on the back or touch on the arm.

If you identify with these signs, you can still change your behavior before anything more serious occurs. If you think you are in the clear, beware that an extended emotional affair can escalate easily into a physical one.

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Warning Signs that Your Emotional Affair is on the Brink of Turning into Something More Serious

  • When you feel vulnerable or something exciting happens, you turn to your new friend instead of your partner.
  • Your level of intimacy increases and platonic discussions begin to turn sexual.
  • You send or receive sexy photos of each other.
  • You purposely put yourself in situations where you and the other person are alone.
  • Feelings of disappointment, anger and distance towards your spouse begin to become overwhelming.
  • You look forward to spending more time with the other person than your spouse and even your children.
  • You make plans for the future with this person.

If you identify with these signs, you could be on your way to a full-blown affair -- complete with emotional and sexual betrayal. It's important that you recognize what you are doing, and if nothing physical has happened yet, you may be able to turn your trouble around. If you feel that you want to (and can) save your relationship, you need to come clean with yourself and accept your transgressions. It will take work, but it is not impossible.


How to Stop an Emotional Affair in its Tracks

  • Quit cold turkey - setting boundaries for continued contact can be a slippery slope. It's best to cut it off completely.{relatedarticles}
  • Remove temptation -- change your phone number, get a new e-mail address and start new social media accounts. If you work together, ask to be transferred. Avoid locations where you may run into each other. Throw away photos, love letters or physical reminders to avoid a relapse.
  • Come clean - even if nothing happened physically, you need to clear your conscience and start a new trend of honesty and openness in your relationship. Be ready for the fallout of this decision and even be prepared to work with a counselor or other relationship advisor.

Once you remove yourself from an emotional affair, you can begin to pick up the pieces of your relationship. There is no doubt that your spouse or partner will feel extremely hurt and deceived, and it may take some time for him or her to come around to working on the relationship.


Once you have both agreed on moving forward, there are steps you can take together to begin the healing process:

  • participate in counseling individually and as a couple;
  • make new rules and set new boundaries about your relationship going forward;{relatedarticles}
  • realize that your relationship might never go back to "normal" and that trust is not rebuilt overnight;
  • spend time doing special activities together as a couple to help revive the spark; and
  • be honest with yourself - is the relationship truly over? Do you have the willpower to make sure it doesn't happen again?

It's perfectly normal to feel guilt and shame after participating in an emotional affair, but remember that you are only human. Beating yourself up forever can hinder your ability to repair your relationship and lead a happy life. Unfortunately, even with the best counseling and communication, your spouse or partner may choose to end the relationship if he or she cannot recover from the anger and pain of the emotional affair. If this occurs, it is important not to complicate matters by begging the partner to stay or beginning to stalk or follow him or her. Work with a counselor or trusted advisor on the next steps of your life. This incident doesn't have to be a life sente