When someone has an affair, we naturally assume they had a physical relationship with someone else.
This isn’t always the case, however – a lot of people have emotional affairs without physical contact.
In fact, emotional affairs are often more damaging and harder for some couples to recover from as this type of affair transcends lust and physical attraction.
Here’s a look at what an emotional affair is, why men have emotional affairs, and the damage they cause in relationships.
What Is an ‘Emotional’ Affair?
An emotional affair can be defined as a relationship where someone feels closer to another person emotionally than they do with their spouse or partner.
This type of affair is often characterized by an intimate, but non-intimate or physical friendship.
The people involved in an emotional affair often share confidences and secrets that they wouldn’t share with their spouse or partner.
There may be no physical contact, but an emotional affair is still considered cheating and often results in couples splitting up.
Related – 13 signs that two coworkers are having an emotional affair.
Why Do Men Have Emotional Affairs?
There are many reasons why men have emotional affairs, but some of the most common include:
- Unhappiness in their current relationship
- A need for attention and validation
- A desire to feel important and special
- A lack of communication with their partner
The bond that a man will find with another woman that turns into an emotional affair can start around anything.
It’s often simply that a guy finds some common ground with a woman or shared hobbies to talk about.
Or, he may be attracted to her, or together they might find comfort in sharing their problems.
The point is that emotional affairs almost always start out as innocent friendships.
It’s when there is emotional energy that starts flowing between a couple that they become closer than friends.
There is always something there that a man can’t get from his partner due to one or more of the above reasons.
Is an Emotional Affair Cheating?
Yes, an emotional affair is definitely cheating.
It’s a form of infidelity that can be just as damaging to a relationship as a physical affair.
The reason why emotional affairs are so damaging is because they involve a betrayal of trust.
When you share your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone other than your partner, you are betraying their trust.
This is why emotional affairs are often harder to forgive than physical ones.
The damage caused by an emotional affair can be long-lasting and often irreparable.
Couples who have experienced an emotional affair often find it difficult to trust each other again.
How Can You Tell if Your Partner Is Having an Emotional Affair?
There are a few signs that you can look out for that may indicate your partner is having an emotional affair.
Some of these include:
- Your partner is spending more time on their phone or computer
- They’re being secretive about their phone or computer usage
- You notice a change in their behavior – they may be more withdrawn or moody
- They’re dressing up more or taking more care of their appearance
- They’re talking about a new friend a lot
If you notice any of these changes in your partner’s behavior, it’s possible they could be having an emotional affair.
The best way to find out for sure is to talk to them about it.
Open communication is essential in any relationship, and if you’re feeling like something is off, it’s important to talk to your partner about it.
You also need to make it clear that you’re available to talk about any problems they may be having.
When we’re in long-term relationships it’s easy to get wrapped up in our busy day-to-day lives and forget to actually check how our partners are doing.
Like, really check if they’re OK or if they have anything on their minds.
Related – Why emotional affairs hurt so much!
Are Emotional Affairs Worse Than Physical Affairs?
This is a tough question to answer.
Both emotional and physical affairs are cheating, and both can be equally damaging to a relationship.
The main difference is that emotional affairs involve a betrayal of trust, whereas physical affairs don’t necessarily involve this same level of trust.
For example, if your partner has a one-night stand, it’s not the same as if they were to share their deepest thoughts and feelings with someone else.
One-night stands are often just physical, whereas emotional affairs can be much more intimate.
This is why emotional affairs can be harder to forgive than physical ones.
Whether or not a physical or emotional affair is more damaging to your relationship is going to come down to how you feel about the affair personally, and what happened.
Do Emotional Affairs Lead to Physical Affairs?
Emotional affairs don’t always lead to physical affairs. However, they can.
If an emotional affair is not dealt with, it can develop into a physical affair.
This is because the trust has already been broken, and it’s easier for your partner to justify crossing that line if they’ve already been doing it emotionally.
It’s important to deal with an emotional affair as soon as possible, before it has a chance to develop into something more.
Should You Forgive Your Husband for Having an Emotional Affair?
This is a difficult question to answer, and not one I can answer on your behalf!
It depends on the situation and how you’re feeling about it.
If you feel like you can trust your husband again, then forgiveness may be possible.
However, if the trust has been completely broken, it may be hard to forgive and move on from what happened.
Only you can decide whether or not you want to try and forgive your husband for having an emotional affair.
If you’re struggling to make that decision, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor.
They can help you work through your feelings and figure out what’s best for you and your relationship.
Image credits – Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 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.