In simple terms, emotional cheating can best be defined and described as emotional unfaithfulness. It does not involve physical integrity or intercourse, but instead emotional infidelity centers on sharing emotional integrity with someone who is not your spouse or partner. It's not about sex, but more about confidentiality, deception, and betrayal.
When referring to emotional affairs (also known as an affair of the heart), psychiatrist and frequent guest of the Oprah Winfrey show, Dr. Gail Saltz, states, "It also has to do with the amount of emotional energy that you put into the other person and are no longer giving your partner."
When you start to share intimate thoughts and feelings with someone who is not your spouse or partner and reveal things to them you do not tell anyone else, then you start to walk the fine line between friendship and emotional infidelity. And that's when you start to run the risk of emotional affairs turning intimate.
So at what point does friendship turn into an emotional affair? When does a relationship become more than "just friends"?
These can be difficult questions to answer because it partly depends on boundaries set between you and your spouse or partner. If you're feeling hurt, betrayed, left out, or angered by your partner's words and / or actions, then they've crossed that line and the situation needs dealt immediately.
If, on the other hand, it is you who is wondering if you might be involved in an emotional affair, then here are some emotional career signs and questions you might ask yourself.
- Do you spend a lot of time talking to or hanging out with the other person? Do you tell your partner about it?
- Do you talk to this person about your relationship with your spouse or partner and share private details about it?
- Do you seem to spend more time talking and sharing feelings with this person than you do with your spouse?
- Do you find yourself caring about your appearance when you go to see this person? Do you want to look good for them?
- Do you experience feelings of sexual attraction toward this person wherever they know it or not?
- Would you feel nervous, uncomfortable, or guilty if your spouse or partner saw the two of you together or listened in on your conversations?
- Do they call you at home? Do you find yourself going to a private room to talk to them so your spouse does not hear the conversation?
- Do you hang out with them or go out to lunch together without telling or involving your spouse or partner?
- Are you possessive of your phone and keep it with you at all times so your spouse or partner does not find it? Would you feel embarrassed or guilty if your partner was to read any of your texts or listen to voicemails from your friend?
If you've answered yes to even just a couple of the questions above, then you must be extremely careful about how you proceed with your friendship and your marriage or relationship because you're cheating, even if you're in condemnation about it or find yourself justifying it with, "It's harmless. We're just friends. That's just how we talk to each other".
The Internet and advances in technology have only increased the risk of emotional adultery. Internet infidelity is on the rise, and it's now easier than ever to participate in an online affair. In fact, you can have an emotional affair online without even really knowing or even meeting the person on the other side. Anonymity has become a blessing and a curse.