Emotional affairs or emotional cheating is just as – if not more – damaging than a physical affair.
This type of affair typically starts slowly and can last for a long time without either person’s partner finding out.
But for how long, and how do most emotional affairs end?
Here’s a look at why most emotional affairs start, how long they last, and how they typically end:
How Do Emotional Affairs Start?
An emotional affair can start in many ways.
It might begin with a seemingly innocent friendship, where you confide in this other person more than your partner.
You might find yourself talking to them about things you wouldn’t normally share, or spending more time with them than anyone else.
Slowly but surely, the lines become blurred and you start to develop feelings for this person.
You might feel like you can’t control your thoughts or emotions around them, and you might start daydreaming about what it would be like to be with them.
Before you know it, you’re in the middle of an emotional affair.
If you’re investing more of your emotional energy into someone other than your partner, you’re having an emotional affair.
How Long Do Emotional Affairs Usually Last?
There is no set timeline, an emotional affair can last anywhere from a few weeks to many years.
It all depends on how deep your feelings for this other person are, and how much you’re willing to invest in the relationship.
If you’re not careful, an emotional affair can quickly spiral out of control and become all-consuming.
You might find yourself thinking about this person all the time, and making excuses to spend more time with them.
Generally speaking, emotional affairs last longer than physical affairs.
This is because it’s easier to get away with an emotional affair and more of the relationship can be carried out from a distance.
How Do Most Emotional Affairs End?
It will come as no surprise, but most emotional affairs don’t have a happy ending.
This is because they’re based on a lie – you’re hiding your feelings for this other person from your partner.
Sooner or later, the affair will be exposed, and when it is, it will likely cause a lot of pain and damage to your relationship.
Most emotional affairs end when a partner finds out about the affair.
Usually due to joining the dots from numerous signs that you’re cheating on them emotionally.
It’s hard to hide an affair, and the longer it goes on and the more intense it gets the harder it becomes.
Some affairs don’t ‘end’ of course, and the two people involved start a relationship and leave their respective partners.
There is a general belief that emotional affairs are easier to forgive than physical affairs, but this doesn’t seem to be the case if you ask anyone who has been cheated on.
There is something deeply damaging about knowing that your partner was confiding in someone else and sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings.
I can’t tell you if you’ll get over it or how bad it will feel, each situation and relationship dynamic is unique.
Signs Your Partner Is Having an Emotional Affair
If you suspect that your partner might be having an emotional affair, there are some telltale signs that you can look out for.
- Your partner is suddenly spending more time away from home, or they’re working late more often than usual.
- They’re being less communicative and you feel like you’re being shut out of their life.
- They seem distracted and preoccupied when they’re with you, and you can’t seem to get their attention.
- They’re dressing up more often or taking more care with their appearance than usual.
- You catch them in little lies about where they’ve been or who they’ve been talking to.
- They start being critical of you and your relationship, and they make negative comments about your appearance or character.
- They start to distance themselves from you emotionally and they withdraw from physical intimacy.
- They seem more interested in their phone or computer than they are in you.
- You find evidence of them flirting with someone else or exchanging intimate messages with someone online.
If you see any of these signs in your relationship, it’s possible that your partner is having an emotional affair.
Before jumping to conclusions, the best thing to do is to talk to them about it.
Try to get to the bottom of what’s going on and why they might be behaving this way.
If they’re honest with you, it’s possible to work through the issue and come out stronger as a result.
Why Are Emotional Affairs So Hard to End?
It can be hard to end an emotional affair, even when you know it’s wrong and you feel guilty for going behind your partner’s back in such a personal way.
This is because you may have developed strong feelings for this other person, and it’s hard to let go of something that feels so good.
One of the ways an emotional affair differs from a physical one is that a lot of people can cut off a physical affair and make a clean break.
That gap, the need for physical contact, even if there was an emotional element to it can almost be replaced by going back to your partner.
Emotional affairs on the other hand grow stronger over time and you confide more in the other person and share more intimate details.
It’s hard to make a clean break, it’s like you’ve invested a lot into them and your relationship with them, and feels like you’re losing more by ending it.
If you’re trying to end an emotional affair, it’s not going to be easy and you need to be prepared for it to take some time.
You’ll need to cut all ties with the other person and give 100% of yourself to your partner.
You will need to build your relationship back stronger than it was, and fill all the gaps that made you look elsewhere in the first place.
Image credits – Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.