Emotional Infidelity: What is it? Signs and How to Deal with an Affair?

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Is My Partner Having an Emotional Affair?

Relationships are difficult and intricate, so whenever somebody has an affair it can be just as complicated as the relationship itself. Most people tend to have affairs because they’re not satisfied emotionally in their current relationship and an affair doesn’t always have to lead to sex. Although many affairs are of an intimate and sexual nature, there are many people who simply want another person emotionally. How does that work you may ask? Or how does an emotional affair impact my relationship? Well, we discuss the definition of an emotional affair, how to tell whether your partner is having one and how to move past it.

What is an Emotional Affair?

Many people associate infidelity with sex but that is not always the case. There are many aspects that define a relationship and when one party feels those aspects are lacking they may look for someone who can provide them with what they need. Firstly, we must discuss the nature of a sexual affair before defining what an emotional affair is.

A sexual affair is a direct violation of your commitment to one another to remain sexually faithful to each other. In addition, it can incorporate emotional elements, but it is usually defined as being a purely intimate thing. Sexual infidelity tends to start with sex and if the relationship goes further, then the two people may grow attached emotionally too.

However, an emotional affair is different as it starts from the emotion. Although sexual affairs can start from friendship too, it is much more common for an emotional affair to start with someone you/your partner is close to. These friendships begin to grow and become closer as the other person is satisfying the emotional needs of you/your partner. You/your partner begin to depend on this person for emotional support which can then affect the level of intimacy, attention, and balance in your relationship. An emotional affair can turn sexual, but the infidelity is usually described as emotional when you purely depend on another person for support and guidance. Women tend to be more hurt by emotional infidelity than men, but both parties can turn to this type of affair when they believe something is lacking within their own relationship.

Signs of Emotional Adultery

If you’ve been in a medium to a long-term relationship with someone, then undoubtedly you understand their behaviors well enough to understand when something is amiss. Furthermore, it is likely that you were emotionally stable with one another at some point as you have been able to continue your relationship past the short-term stages. Therefore, you can usually detect signs which will indicate that your partner no longer relies on you for emotional support. Some of the signs that may indicate your partner is having an emotional affair are:

Discussing Very Personal Topics with Someone Else

If your partner is discussing meaningful stuff about their life, then it could indicate that they’re having an emotional affair. As they’re comfortable enough with the other person to talk about personal matters it could indicate that they have come to depend on them emotionally.

Thinking/Mentioning the Person in Question a Lot

If that guy/girl from work is on your mind often and you begin to think about how they would react in a situation or imagine yourself with them, then it could indicate that you’re emotionally invested in that person. Obviously, you can never know whether your partner is thinking about someone, but if they happen to mention them a lot in conversation, such as: ‘Oh Jennifer likes that movie,’ or ‘that reminds me of something Jennifer said,’ then it could be that they’re having an emotional affair. Don’t go crazy at a few mentions but if it seems that they’re bought up a lot, then you may need to think about what to do next.

You/They Spend a Lot of Time with the Person in Question

Understandably, if you work with someone or know someone from a class, then you’re likely to spend that time together. However, if you or your partner starts meeting up with their colleague from work on a regular basis, then they may be becoming emotionally invested in that person. People want to spend time with people who support and guide them, so they will want to stick close to someone they’re emotionally cheating on you with.

Dealing with an Emotional Affair

Maybe you or your partner has recently opened-up about an emotional affair – or have tried to at least – but you don’t know how to deal with it effectively. It is hard to know that your partner has gone to someone else emotionally but if you want to make your relationship work, then there are a couple of things you can do to ensure that you get past any emotional infidelity.


Be completely honest about your feelings as you’re never going to build the support and emotional trust up again unless you let it all out. If you/your partner can’t deal with it, then maybe it is for the best that you don’t continue. However, if you do want to keep your relationship going, then you need to make them aware of how you felt, how you feel now and what you need to move forward. Whether you committed the emotional infidelity or not, you need to be honest about your feelings.

Make an Effort

It is very easy to become lazy in a relationship, so to show that you care about that person you need to try and connect with them again. Engage with what they’re saying, spend time together again and reignite the lost intimacy and passion for one another.

Understand Each Other’s Feelings

It can be easy if you’ve been cheated on to ignore the other person, but one of the reasons they may have cheated was because they weren’t getting the support they needed. Take the time to understand their perspective – and honestly understand it – without shouting them down or making them feel small. Get to grips with what you both need and continue to communicate effectively with one another.

Cheating is always difficult and when somebody cheats emotionally it can be hard to know what to do. However, if you care about that person and your relationship you’ll work it out. Understand that there is a reason they did what they did and that you can move past it if you can face what they’ve done. It is always personal, and you should follow your gut when deciding what to do, but if you decide to give it another go always remember to be caring, considerate and supportive.

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