Is Your Partner Emotionally Cheating?
Emotional cheating is actually a very common issue seen in couple’s therapy; it is very real and it is painful. While emotional affairs do not necessarily include physical contact (sexual encounters) they can be just as damaging to relationships and marriages, if not more so, and often can lead to sexual affairs. One of the main reasons that emotional affairs are so damaging is that they involve a deep connection, support and companionship that should instead be shared with your partner. These are the building blocks of a strong bond between romantic partners and the sense of betrayal felt by partners when this connection is made outside the relationship is palpable. You and your partner may be in a relationship but if either of you are not getting the emotional attention and connection that you each need then you are missing the glue that bonds a healthy relationship and you may both be at risk of seeking it outside your relationship.
The lack of physical intimacy involved in emotional cheating often keeps cheaters feeling guilt-free because it is just a "friendship." Indeed, the guise of friendship makes it difficult for most people to identify when lines have been crossed. Here are a few warning signs of an emotional cheater:
Hiding thoughts, dreams and fears
In a faithful emotionally bonded relationship, partners should discuss their deepest fears, hopes and dreams for the future. Sharing these intimate things is the crux of emotional intimacy. If your partner is consistently hiding these things it may mean your partner is consistently fulfilling those needs elsewhere. This is emotional intimacy which builds the platform of a romantic relationship not just a simple “friendship.”
Meeting a “friend” for lunch, dinner or any other type of outing without telling your partner is a cause for concern. If you can’t tell your partner, then there is something seriously wrong with what you are doing. One major difference between a platonic friendship and an emotional affair is that platonic friendships are not kept secret.
Avoidance and confusion
When someone has feelings for more than one person they will often feel conflicted or confused and likewise will come across as confused about their feelings. That confusion often results in avoidance of conversations about love and relationships, and even a diminishing interest in being intimate.
Changes in schedule
All of the sudden you or your partner may be working longer hours, on holidays or taking more business trips or company outings that require spending more time with the same colleague or "friend." At the same time, the amount of time you and your spouse spend together is less and, perhaps, increasingly uncomfortable or withdrawn.
Another sign of emotional cheating is that emotional cheater will suddenly become more critical. How you look, how you talk, etc. This often happens when the emotional cheater's feelings for their "friend" start causing them to make comparisons against their partner.
An unhappy relationship
Not all unhappy relationships will lead to emotional or physical affairs but keep in mind that an unhappy relationship does set the platform for any type of affair.
What to do if you have your suspicions
If you suspect your partner of having an emotional affair the best thing to do is to bring it to the table and state your feelings. You have the right to state your feelings of discomfort and if your partner values your relationship enough they should be willing to make the necessary changes. It is important to note that often times emotional cheaters will try to turn the situation around, shrug it off or even make you seem unreasonable. If they are unwilling to make the change then you may need to think about what your options are. The fact is that the emotional affair has to end which does mean ending the friendship and communication ties entirely. If the inappropriate "friendship" doesn't end, your relationship will never re-establish trust.
Like any relationship, communication is the key. If you and your partner are unable to communicate, there is a serious issue. If it can’t be resolved through open honest communication then you may have to question whether this relationship is worth your time and energy.
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