Emotional affairs usually begin as friendships. Some platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships.
But are you really just friends? Have you crossed the line? If you are asking yourself these questions, you may be engaged in an emotional affair.
Cheating isn’t always a physical act. You can actually cheat on your partner in an emotional sense too, which typically happens through small yet intimate actions and a lack of transparency about those actions with your partner. These behaviors might include confiding in someone other than your partner about your relationship, or choosing to spend the majority of your free time hanging out or texting with a person who you aren’t actually dating.
If you are still unsure whether or not you have moved from a friendship to something more, here are some telltale signs of an emotional affair:
You are confiding in another person and shutting your partner out.
Having a close platonic friendship is fine. Actually, it’s probably healthy. But if you’re in a long-term relationship and you are constantly having intimate, in-depth conversations about your emotions and personal struggles with another person, and then act as though everything is completely fine when they encourage you to open up to them, that could be a problem.
You find yourself comparing the person to your partner.
When you find yourself comparing a person to your partner, it’s almost as if you are sizing them up as a potential significant other. Comparing your partner to someone else may create conflict in your relationship, particularly if you are developing a close relationship with that person.
They are the first person you go to, and not your partner.
They become the first person you want to call with any “news.” You have some exciting news to share or you have had a bad day and this is the person whom you call. You may not be sharing the same with your partner very much at all.
You spend more time with this person.
If you find that you are spending more and more time with a friend or co-worker—so much so that you end up spending less time with your partner—you might want to pause and contemplate the nature of your relationship.
Maybe you don’t cancel on your partner to spend time with this person, but if you find that you drop everything and cancel on other friends for one particular person, you might want to ask yourself what makes them so special.
You feel understood by this person.
You believe this person really “gets” you. You start to feel like they really understand you, even better than your partner. You might feel that this person has a lot in common with you or that you have a lot of shared interests. Because it seems that you have a unique connection, you might feel like this person understands you in a way that other people don’t, including your partner.
You get defensive very quickly.
Arguments happen in relationships, but regardless of who picks the fight, a very defensive partner is a red flag, especially if they’re trying to talk about your relationship with someone else going too far. If a delicate conversation starts and you immediately go into defense mode, it could be a sign that you’re hiding something.
You lie about your closeness to this person.
If you are regularly hanging out, talking to, and confiding in someone else, but are assuring your partner that you don’t know them well, barely talk to them, or don’t even like them, that’s suspicious. If you are afraid your partner won’t understand the relationship or will feel jealous, then they might actually have a reason to feel that way.
You hide things from your partner.
You start to lie or keep secrets. This usually entails lying by omission. Not only do you not mention your talks, meetings, lunches, texts, and phone calls to your spouse, you also take steps to hide these communications. You are hiding things or lying only because you know deep down that the behavior is not okay.
Intimacy with your partner decreases.
If you find you are suddenly sharing fewer intimate details with your partner and more with another person, you might be crossing into an emotional affair. Similarly, if you and your partner are less physically intimate than you were in the past and you find yourself daydreaming of intimacy with someone else rather than feeling sexual desire for your partner, there may be potential for an emotional affair.