Dating and Relationship Advice

Are you suspicious that your partner is having an emotional affair? Let’s cover all the bases. Emotional cheating is the act of one person in a relationship forming an intimate connection with someone other than their SO.

There are key differences between your man having a healthy friendship and emotionally investing his time into developing a close bond with another person.

If you notice your partner spending more and more time texting or hanging out with someone he defensively calls “just a friend,” there’s a chance he’s in the midst of an emotional affair.

He might not even realize that he’s doing anything wrong. More often than not, friendships of this nature start out innocently with good intentions.

Emotional cheating has become much more common these days, given the easy access we have to cell phones and social media. There isn’t a sexual, physical, or romantic aspect to these relationships most of the time. However, the act of your loved one forming a friendship of this kind with another person that excludes you is a problem — hell, it’s the very definition of emotional cheating.

When I asked Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW, if emotional cheating is a form of infidelity, she responded, “Yes. If there is a commitment in a partnership, whether or not the couple is legally married, I would consider it cheating. If they are unwilling to divulge the friendship to their partner and share the nature of the relationship, then yes: it is cheating.”

Emotional cheating is sometimes considered worse, and it can sting a hell of a lot more than your SO having a one-night stand. This is because of the deep level of intimacy that’s involved.

“A common misconception occurs when a partner believes that everything must be shared with them and not withheld or shared with others outside of the relationship. This kind of possessive intimacy can be a sign of emotional fusion that is indicative of mistrust or lack of individuation or self-actualization between partners,” Claudia E. de Llano, LMFT began telling me.

“In this case, it is essential for couples to seek counseling to learn and establish the rules of intimacy and personal privacy in their relationship.

Another misconception is that emotional cheating is not infidelity,” she continued.

When someone who’s entangled in a romantic relationship believes that it’s over, bear in mind that there’s another common belief among specialists:

Edie Weinstein said that trust can be rebuilt, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship. Both partners likely still love each other, and you shouldn’t believe the trope “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”

Emotional cheating of any kind indicates that something in the relationship is out of balance, and the relationship needs work to restore its function. While the person having an affair is undoubtedly responsible for their actions, seeking professional help like couples counseling is important.

The most common excuses when one partner discovers what’s happening behind their back are: she’s “just a friend,” I’ve known her for over a decade, and you don’t appreciate me enough. Most of these are simply denial.

“While these responses can be true, if it’s something robbing the relationship of closeness and growth, it should be examined,” Edie Weinstein explained.

If you feel that your partner is becoming emotionally distant, disclosing or sharing less about their lives than customary, it’s important to open a line of safe and inviting communication.

EQ wants to reveal five signs to look out for if you’re suspicious that your partner is emotionally cheating on you.

They Changed Their Passwords

When someone is cheating, physically or emotionally, they probably don’t want you to find out. “Has your spouse suddenly put a new password on their phone or computer? Do they hide their phone when you walk into the room,” said Edie Weinstein.

Clearly, your SO is hiding something from you. Open a line of communication and express your feelings on the matter. Who knows? He may tell you the truth.

Keeping Secrets

There’s a major red flag when your SO is hiding his friendship with another person from you. “Secrecy, which involves communication in any form — text, email, phone or in-person — that is being intentionally kept from you is a sign to look out for,” de Llano stated.

In some cases, your partner may lie and say it’s a long-lost relative or a childhood friend you didn’t know existed. Be cautious: don’t accuse him of cheating. Instead, ask your partner why he’s suddenly acting differently and talking to or seeing a person you’ve never heard him mention before.

Devoting More Time to This New “Friend”

Is your loved one expending more energy in their newfound friendship than their primary relationship? Maybe he’s sharing intimate details of his life or asking advice about his own relationship with you.

Weinstein noted, “Other signs include: him having cheated on you before or distancing himself from his current partner — you — without explanation.

The two may even have inside jokes and code words that you’re not a part of.”

You shouldn’t have to feel like an outsider in your own relationship. Period.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Sometimes he really does have to work late, walk the dog again or spend more time on his phone. And yes, sometimes he really is just texting a friend or cousin. But when excuses become lies, there’s a problem.

“Unfortunately, there is no one to know if your partner is seeking their emotional needs outside of your relationship. Instead, it’s a confluence of symptoms that interfere with the function of your relationship ranging from communication to emotional and physical intimacy that is being sought elsewhere,” de Llano said.

Behavioral Changes

No one wants their SO to begin showing less interest in them, turning down date nights or sex, spending less quality time together, feeling attracted to someone else — emotionally or otherwise — or exhibiting other changes in behavior.

“When one person in a partnership is emotionally cheating, the key is that behaviors create a wedge in the dynamic of your relationship rather than a bridge,” de Llano stated.

You deserve the best and only the best. And no one deserves to be emotionally cheated on. Talk calmly with your partner, understand his perspective, and then express your feelings. But remember: healthy communication can only go so far if he doesn’t cut ties with this newfound person in his life. Apologies must be followed by action. Otherwise, they’re nothing but empty words and promises.

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