When you think about infidelity, you may only think about the physical aspect. But emotional affairs can be just as hurtful, if not more.
What is Emotional Infidelity?
Emotional infidelity happens when one person in a marriage develops a strong emotional bond with someone who is not their spouse. This type of relationship usually starts off as a platonic friendship. But, through spending time with one another and sharing things about their lives, these friends create a strong emotional bond which can put stress on a marriage.
Those who are guilty of having an emotional affair often share more with another person than they do with their spouse; this leaves them with nothing left to give their spouse emotionally. Unlike a platonic friendship, most of the time those involved also keep this strong emotional relationship a secret.
Besides a strong emotional bond, there is often an underlying attraction and chemistry. That’s why these instances of emotional infidelity often evolve into a sexual relationship and affair.
Warning Signs of an Emotional Affair
How can you tell if your spouse is having an emotional affair? Could you be having an emotional affair and not really be aware of it? Here are some telltale signs to look out for.
- Withdrawal from your spouse
You no longer share intimate details of your life or engage in meaningful conversation.
- Not interested in a sexual relationship with your spouse
Since all of your emotions are wrapped up in another person, you have nothing left to give your spouse, emotionally or physically.
- You constantly think about the other person and highly anticipate the next time you’ll see or speak to them.
While you may look forward to seeing or speaking to your friends, your interest in this other person surpasses all other relationships and friendships.
- You feel as though this other person understands you better than your spouse.
You may have felt as though your spouse was the only person that understood you. Now, you no longer feel this way and wonder if you ever will.
- You buy/receive gifts from this person.
Giving gifts for a birthday or holiday is one thing. But, the relationship takes on an entirely different level when you want to give “just because” gifts. This could signal emotional infidelity.
- You or your spouse is always busy.
If you or your spouse are constantly busy and never have time for one another, there could be something else going on behind the scenes. All of the time you’re suddenly not spending together may be spent with someone else.
How to Cope with Emotional Infidelity
Emotional infidelity hurts so much because a bond has been broken. The intimate bond you once only shared with your spouse is now being shared with someone else and it can take a long time to heal from this kind of pain. If you and your partner decide you want to work past the emotional infidelity and rebuild your marriage, here are some ways to get back on track.
Let go of the past. While it may be difficult to forget the actions of your spouse, you need to if you want to move on. Let go of the past hurt and don’t constantly bring up the emotional infidelity.
Be patient. Just like the emotional affair didn’t blossom overnight, your revived relationship will also take time to redevelop; realize this and be patient.
Invest in your marriage again. For some people this means seeing a therapist, for others, it just means taking steps to rebuild your bond. Start trusting and confiding in your partner again. Make time to go out and enjoy each other.
In order to cope and move past emotional infidelity, both parties need to be completely invested. If only one partner is committed, the relationship will not be able to be rebuilt.