Are you asking, What are the effects of an emotional affair on your marriage?
We have answers.
An emotional affair usually begins innocently as a platonic relationship, a friendship. With increased time and energy invested in the friendship, a strong emotional bond can begin to form. This is detrimental to the marriage.
DEFINITION OF AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
What is an emotional affair? “An emotional affair is when a person not only invests more of their emotional energy outside their marriage but also receives emotional support and companionship from the new relationship.” (M.G. Neuman, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship. Penguin Random House; 2002.) In addition, the persons involved in an emotional affair may begin to feel closer to each other and may experience escalating sexual attraction or chemistry.
What are the effects of an emotional affair
For this blog, the Emotional Affair Partner will be referred to as the EAP.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The following signs and symptoms are indicators that you or your spouse could be engaging in an emotional affair.
- Seeking out opportunities to have frequent contact with the EAP.
- Constant thoughts about the EAP– imagining what they are doing or imagining yourself with them, playing conversations with them in your head, etc.
- Quoting the EAP or mentioning them with increasing frequency in conversations to others, but not to the spouse.
- Not mentioning the EAP, but omitting them from conversations with the spouse.
- Withdrawing from a spouse, becoming less and less intimate in every way.
- When confronted about the relationship, defending it by saying, “We’re just friends.”
- Suddenly becoming interested in technology, spending hours online or on the phone.
- Hiding phone or shutting down the computer screen when a spouse enters the room.
- Spending extra hours on work projects involving the EAP.
- Spending less and less time with spouse.
- Inappropriately sharing intimate details with the EAP.
- Making unfair comparisons between spouse and EAP.
- Giving personal gifts to the EAP.
- Believing that the spouse doesn’t “get me” but that the “EAP” does.
- Secrecy about the relationship with the EAP.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FRIENDSHIP AND AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
- In an emotional affair, personal information is shared. This could be information about the spouse of either or both of the EAPs. It can also include thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams that would normally be shared with one’s spouse. It can be as seemingly minor as sharing the highs and lows of the day with the EAP but not with the spouse.
- In an emotional affair, there is secrecy. If the spouse(s) is not welcome to participate in the relationship – conversations, time spent together, and other aspects of the “friendship”- then it probably is at the very least an emotional affair.
- In an emotional affair, there is sexual tension. Sharing intimate emotional connections will most often lead to increasing sexual attraction and tension.
EFFECTS OF AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
- Sense of Betrayal. Unless an offended spouse has already “checked out” of the relationship, they will feel a sharp sense of betrayal from the emotional affair. In truth, the offending spouse has been cheating on their mate, even if they have not had a sexual affair.
- Destroying of Trust. Emotional affairs are not “harmless.” Most often, the offended spouse is left feeling deceived, lied to, betrayed, marginalized, and rejected. There cannot be trust if any part of life is kept from a spouse because they will always wonder, “What else is there that I don’t know about?”
- Sexual Affair. About half of emotional affairs grow into full-blown affairs that include sex. It is a small step from emotional intimacy to having sex, which many do not discover until it is too late.
IF YOU OR YOUR SPOUSE IS HAVING AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR
- Minimize contact with the EAP. Do whatever it takes to cut off all communication and contact with the EAP. It is the only way to give your marriage a chance to recover and thrive again. If you work for the same company, ask for a transfer or look for a new job. If you are neighbors, move if at all possible. If you belong to the same church, sports team, etc., find other organizations to belong to that fulfill that same need.
- Seek help. A skilled marriage coach/counselor can help both you and your spouse understand why the emotional affair developed, how to repair the damage, and how to deepen the emotional connection between you. It is possible to have a loving and thriving relationship with your mate!