An emotional affair differs from a physical affair, but if your man is having one, it means there’s trouble in the relationship.
An emotional affair occurs when one person in a relationship starts talking with someone else about personal topics that are usually reserved for their partner. Emotional intimacy soon develops. There’s usually flirting involved or at least an undercurrent that the partner would not approve of this relationship.
The problem with emotional affairs is that they come between two people in a relationship. All the time and energy devoted to confiding in the other person could be spent sharing those feelings and thoughts with the partner. Plus, emotionally cheating often leads to physical affairs.
Emotionally cheating happens when one person in a relationship is looking for companionship outside the relationship. Some signs of emotionally cheating include the following:
- Sharing personal thoughts and feelings with someone else of the opposite sex
- Greater emotional bond with the other person than with the partner
- Comparisons begin to occur between the partner and the other person
- Addicted to talking with the other person
- Changing your life around to be with the other person
- The emotional affair is done secretly
- Spending lots of time with the other person
If you notice signs that your man is cheating but there’s no physical contact happening, he might be having an emotional affair.
Why An Emotional Affair?
Here are some common reasons of why and how emotional affairs happen:
1. Lack of Emotional Intimacy at Home
When there is little to no emotional intimacy at home, people are more vulnerable to having an emotional affair. Maybe someone at work pays your guy a compliment or is easy to talk with about any topic. If your man never hears compliments from you and feels as if he’s walking on eggshells regarding certain topics he brings up with you, he might welcome the attention from this other person, which is the beginning of an emotional affair.
Lack of intimacy can also happen when your lives are busy and you don’t take time for each other. No matter how busy you are, you need to set aside some intimate time with your man at least once a week. Physical contact is necessary for intimacy. More on that here. You should also tackle intimacy issues head on. Make your relationship a priority instead of taking it for granted. Otherwise, he might be tempted to find intimacy elsewhere.
2. Constant Fighting or Stress at Home
Constant fighting at home can lead to your man avoiding coming home. Instead of rushing home to you, he might spend more time with that nice, easygoing woman from work. He might start telling her how bad his relationship at home is. That talk leads to other talks as he gradually spends more and more time with her, leading to an emotional affair.
3. Craving Variety
It’s only natural that people eventually crave variety regarding their relationship. After all, having only vanilla ice cream all the time becomes boring. One solution people have when they crave variety is to have an affair, whether it’s an emotional affair or a physical one. If that happens, the relationship is in trouble.
People can, however, have variety in their relationships so they won’t be as tempted to look for variety outside. You can do that in many ways:
- Go to new places together
- Try new foods together
- Take up a new sport or hobby together
- Try new things sexually – ideas here
4. Seeing Only the Good Points in a New Person
Another reason emotional affairs can be so enticing is that the other person shows only their good side. For example, when you live with someone, you learn everything there is to know about that person—the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s much different from only showing your best side in a social setting.
Relationships all have their share of problems. If people in the relationship don’t know how to work out or resolve those problems, the problems remain. And those unresolved problems make it tougher to be emotionally and physically intimate.
On the other hand, a new person comes with none of that baggage. It’s easy to hang out and confide in a person who only shows their good points. But the other person has plenty of stuff going on, too. If, for example, the emotional affair led to a full relationship, complete with living together, problems will soon reveal themselves in the new relationship, too.
The solution is to be understanding of each other and to work together to solve problems.
5. Sexual Tension at Work or at the Gym
When people are attracted to each other, they have sexual tension. This is a sort of chemistry between two people. This chemistry makes them want to get together.
But two people need to set the stage for sexual tension to exist.
When a couple is newly together and in love, for example, they aren’t likely to develop sexual tension with someone they know from work or the gym. They just aren’t interested. If people are in a committed relationship, even if it’s gone past the new love stage, they also don’t want to put themselves in the position of opening themselves up to sexual tension.
But if people don’t feel committed to a relationship, they might start flirting with others to see whether sexual tension develops. For sexual tension to develop and lead to an emotional or physical affair, people need to be open to the possibility of it happening. You can make outside sexual tension less likely to happen in your relationship by working on making your relationship as good as it can possibly be.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Emotional Affairs from Happening in the First Place
1. Open and Honest Communication
Good communication is vitally important to have in a relationship to achieve closeness and to feel committed to each other. But it’s not always easy to achieve. Here are two ways to communicate better:
- Plan to have a talk. If there’s something important you need to discuss, set aside some time so the two of you can properly discuss it. It’s not a good idea to bring this up when you’re both busy doing other things such as checking your phones, watching TV, or driving to dinner or to a party. It’s also important to make sure you aren’t angry or emotional when you bring up the issue.
- When you talk, it’s important to listen to what your man has to say. It’s tempting to not really listen, instead waiting to say what you have planned out to say. But that’s not conversing. If the conversation takes a different turn than what you planned on, let it. You can say what you planned to say at a different time if you need to. And he needs to listen to what you say without interrupting you or tuning you out. Listening to each other and then responding to what each other says is key.
Use some of the tips in this post to improve communication.
2. Making an Effort to Work on Your Problems
Now that you know how to communicate, use your positive communication skills to work on solving your relationship problems together.
If your problem is sex, such as not having enough of it, talk about ways to make that happen again. You might need to schedule sex if you both are always too tired or busy. What about sex in the morning? And while you’re planning sex, you might as well plan something different, maybe having sex in a different place than you normally do. This list should give you some ideas.
If your problem is money, talk about your financial situation. If it’s not good, you both need to devise a plan to make it better. It might involve cutting back on spending, getting a second job, or designating one person to be in charge. Have a financial goal, and review it each month. Money issues are a common cause of breakups and affairs.
If your problem is not making the relationship a priority, start setting up date nights. Make it a point to compliment and appreciate each other. Show interest in the other person, and stop taking them for granted.
3. Avoiding Passive-Aggressive Behavior
When someone’s being passive-aggressive, they are being hostile but in an indirect way. This coping mechanism is not a healthy one and comes from a place of anger.
Encourage honesty and openness in the relationship. Passive-aggressive behavior comes when a person feels as if they can’t express what’s bothering them. It then comes out in ways that damage the relationship and could be a justification for having an emotional affair.
If you notice that your man is acting in a passive-aggressive way toward you, let him know what you’ve noticed. Get him to express himself regarding what the underlying problem is that’s causing the hostile, yet passive-aggressive, behavior.
4. Working Toward Solutions
Once you and your man can be honest about the emotional affair and what the problem is that’s caused an emotional affair to happen, you can work toward solving the problem.
Communicate and then work together to save the relationship. If you’re having trouble doing this on your own, you can seek professional help. As long as the emotional affair ends and you both are willing to make changes for the sake of your relationship, your relationship has a good chance of becoming great again.
Emotional affairs can be just as destructive (if not more so) than physically consummated affairs. And if left to go on, they could very well turn into full-blown physical AND emotional affairs. If that happens, the likeliness of your relationship being saved is greatly lessened. But it’s not impossible to move on after an affair.
An emotional affair needs to end to save your relationship. If the emotional affair was with someone who can’t be avoided, such as someone from work, your man needs to tell that person that he can’t continue the relationship, and he has to mean it.
Now that you know how to recognize the signs of emotional affairs, you can take steps to prevent them from happening in your relationship.