Are You Having an Emotional Affair Outside of Your Marriage? (2023)

Emotional affairs can wreak havoc on your marriage as well as your family. You only have a certain amount of “emotional energy.”If you are focusing your energy elsewhere, it can start to have a detrimental effect on your relationship and your family.

This article discusses the signs that you or your partner might be having an emotional affair. It also explores the impact this may have on your relationship with your partner.

What Is an Emotional Affair?

An emotional affair is a non-sexual relationship involving a similar level of emotional intimacy and bonding as a romantic relationship.

Emotional affairs usually begin as friendships. Some platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships. When you find this other person attractive or when you share sexual chemistry, you face a slippery slope pulling you away from your marriage.

There usually is no intention for these bonds to become anything more. Regardless, the line is thin between close friendships and emotional affairs. Furthermore, emotional affairs can also quickly lead to flirtation and sexual encounters.

What Is an Emotional Affair?

Signs of an Emotional Affair

If you are not quite sure if you are having an emotional affair, here are nine signs that indicate you probably are:

(Video) Difference Between An Emotional Affair And Friendship

Frequent Contact

Emotional affairs are usually characterized by a great deal of contact with one another. This includes spending time together in person but also having frequent contact when you are not together.

For example, you often communicate with this person at questionable hours. You devote a lot of time texting, emailing, or video calling this person. You may even neglect your partner, family, and other obligations in order to maintain constant contact with this person.

Frequent Sharing

Emotional affairs are also characterized by a tendency to prioritize this other relationship to the point where you confide in them more than you do your own partner. They become the first person you want to call with any “news.”

For example, if you have some exciting news to share or you havehad a bad day, they are the person you call. You may not be sharing with your spouse very much at all. You might not be intentionally hiding things from your partner, but the lack of communication means that your partner doesn't really know what is going on in your life.

Constant Thoughts

The person you are having an emotional affair with becomes the focus of your attention. This person takes over your thoughts.You may also find that you have a difficult time concentrating on anything other than this person.

You think about your friend constantly. This person is on your mind when you wake up in the morning, when you go to sleep at night, and a lot of time in between.When you are getting dressed, you have this person in mind, hoping they will notice your appearance.

While emotional affairs start out as non-sexual, you might also start having romantic or sexual fantasies about this other person.

Feeling Understood

You believe this person really “gets” you.You start to feel like they really understand you, even better than your spouse.You might feel that this person has a lot in common with you or that you have a lot of shared interests.

(Video) 7 Signs of an Emotional Affair

Because it seems that you have a unique connection, you might feel like this person understands you in a way that other people don't, including your partner. This sometimes means that you start holding back sharing things with your partner even more, which further degrades your intimacy, connection, and communication.

Inappropriate Sharing

Emotional affairs may begin with conversations about work and other topics but they often shift into more intimate details about your life, relationships, personal issues, and sex life.

This tendency to make yourself emotionally vulnerable while disclosing intimate details about yourself and your feelings deepens your attachment to this other person.

You discuss very personal topics, such as the problems in your current relationship.You share all or most of your problems and concerns with this person. As you do this, you also grow more discontent with your spouse.

Unfair Comparisons

As you grow closer to this other person, you may also begin to judge others in comparison to them. You frequently compare your spouse to this person.You may get angry with your spouse for not doing things like the other person.

Because you are idealizing this other person, your partner begins to look worse in your eyes. You may find yourself being more critical of your spouse.

It also means that you tend to look for mistakes and overemphasize your partner's flaws without giving them credit for their strengths. These unfair comparisons also mean you overlook any negative traits in the person you are having an emotional affair with.

Spending More Time Together

In addition to always being in touch with this other person, you spend a lot of time together in person.You find excuses or create reasons to spend time with them. You might stay out together after work or make plans on the weekends with them.

(Video) Are You In An EMOTIONAL AFFAIR? (Emotional Infidelity)

You may even find excuses to avoid spending time with your partner so that you can spend more time with this other person. You might find that you get "butterflies" any time the other person texts, calls, or visits.


You start to lie or keep secrets.This usually entails lying by omission. Not only do you not mention your talks, meetings, lunches, texts, and phone calls to your spouse, but you also take steps to hide these communications. For example, you might delete messages from your phoneor deny the communication you had when asked.

You are hiding things or lyingwhen you know deep down that the behavior is not okay. Would you be mortified if your spouse heard a taped conversation between you?

Less Time for Your Partner

Your spouse gets less of you while your special person gets more. Whether it is less communication, affection, your thoughts, or your innermost world, your time and focus are taken from your partner and transferred to this other person.

Spending time with others outside your relationship and having emotional connections is not normally a problem. It is when your connection with one person takes over your life, interferes with your relationship, and becomes something that you feel like you have to hide that it becomes a problem.

One important question you should ask yourself: Would you be upset if your partner shared this level of intimacy with one of their friends?

Signs Your Partner Is Having an Emotional Affair

In some cases, you might be worried that your partner is having an emotional affair without someone else. Some signs to watch for include:

  • Your partner spends a lot of time at work or doing other things without you
  • Your partner is careful to hide their phone and acts secretive about who they are communicating with online
  • Your partner constantly talks about their close friend who they seem to share a special connection with
  • Your partner start to criticize you and compare you to their friend
  • Your partner seems to be drawing away from you and rarely shares information about their life with you

Impact of Emotional Affairs

These types of affairs can seem like a vacation from your everyday life. You only get the best of this other person, and they see the best of you. You do not see them “24/7” and learn about their bad habits and unattractive features.Your image of them is mainly based on fantasy and an idealized persona, which will undoubtedly make this relationship very alluring.

(Video) Is An Emotional Affair Cheating? What are the Signs that Indicate an Emotional Affair?

Some ways that emotional affairs can affect your relationship include:

  • Betrayal and hurt
  • Damaging your partner's trust
  • Damaged relationships with other family members, including children
  • Difficulty forming future relationships
  • Divorce
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, and anger
  • Reduce self-confidence
  • Worse communication between you and your partner

If you think you are having an emotional affair, it may be time to seriously evaluate the state of your relationship with your current partner.

Even when such affairs do not cross the line by becoming physical, the impact can be just as damaging and put your marriage in danger. The intimacy involved in emotional affairs can frequently have a degree of intensity deeper than a sexual affair because you are more emotionally invested.

How to Deal With an Emotional Affair

Emotional affairs don't happen suddenly or out of the blue. It takes time and effort to build an emotional connection with another person. If believe that you are engaging in actions that might be an emotional affair, there are things that you can do to reestablish boundaries and protect your relationship with your partner.

Avoiding emotional affairs doesn't mean limiting contact with others or not sharing emotional connections with your friends. Those relationships are essential for social support and psychological well-being.

Strategies that can help if you feel like you are involved in an emotional affair:

  • Create boundaries: Establish and maintain boundaries or expectations for how you and others will behave in relationships. For example, staying in contact with your friends is essential, but there should also be certain times when you focus on your partner and family.
  • Communicate with your partner: Talk to your partner about the details of your life, from the events of your day to your personal feelings about different events in your life.
  • Spend time together: Set aside time to spend quality time with your partner.

Finally, consider talking to a mental health professional if an emotional affair is causing problems in your relationship. They can help you address issues that might cause you or your partner to seek out emotional connections with others in the first place.

A Word From Verywell

If you or your partner are experiencing an emotional affair, it is important to stay in communication with your partner. Talking about the issue is an important first step, but you might find that marriage counseling can be helpful.

(Video) What is Emotional Infidelity and How Will it Impact Your Marriage

10 Signs Your Marriage Is in Trouble


What is an emotional relationship outside of marriage? ›

Emotional cheating is a type of infidelity where one partner shares emotional intimacy and connection with someone other than their partner. This connection crosses the boundaries of a healthy, platonic relationship and assumes a breach of trust within the primary relationship.

How do you know if you are having an emotional affair? ›

Signs of emotional cheating

You confide in the other person about the intimate details of your relationship troubles. You've become more detached and emotionally disconnected from your partner. You think about the other person all the time. You are less intimate with your partner.

What are examples of an emotional affair? ›

What counts as emotional cheating?
  • spend more time talking to (or thinking about) the other person than your partner.
  • avoid mentioning them to your partner.
  • know they're attracted to you.
  • notice physical signs of chemistry around them.
  • feel less physically or emotionally attracted to your partner.
Apr 5, 2021

Does an emotional affair count as adultery? ›

While some believe that an emotional affair is harmless given that there is no sexual relationship, most marriage and relationship experts view it as a form of cheating. Emotional affairs can also act as gateway affairs, eventually leading to emotional and sexual infidelity.

What destroys emotional intimacy? ›

Abusive behavior

Rage, disrespect, and emotional stonewalling may not be relationship-ending in and of themselves, but continuing patterns can wear people down. An inability or unwillingness to respect your partner's thoughts, beliefs, and feelings can destroy the trust and intimacy in any relationship.

What is it called when you love together but are not married? ›

Cohabiting is when a couple lives together before marriage (or civil partnership) or instead of marrying or entering into a civil partnership. If you're living with your partner, and you're not married or in a civil partnership, you're a cohabiting couple.

What is micro cheating? ›

Summary. Micro-cheating involves participating in inappropriate intimate connections with others outside your relationship.

Is emotional affair mutual? ›

Emotional cheating typically takes weeks or months of interaction to develop, and it involves mutual or unrequited feelings—which don't just go away after a night of irresponsible sex.

What ends an emotional affair? ›

Be honest

Tell them that you greatly appreciate who they are and your friendship with them, but you realize that the time spent with them is harmful to your marriage. Tell them that the level of your connection is feeling inappropriate. This is essential in how to end an emotional affair.

How do men feel in an emotional affair? ›

A recent survey reports that 66% of men feel guilty about their emotional affair. And another recent study reports that 56% of men surveyed were happy in their marriage when they began an emotional affair.

What is worse emotional cheating or physical cheating? ›

Actual feelings are involved.

As painful as physical affairs may be, they don't require deep romantic feelings. Emotional affairs, however, can feel far more personal because they imply that your S.O. liked someone else because they were more exciting to be around than you.

Are emotional affairs toxic? ›

An emotional affair is very dangerous because it not only takes away time and energy from the marriage, but it can lead to sexual infidelity and possibly divorce. Another way of looking at emotional infidelity is that the betrayal is a symptom of the problems that already exist within a marriage.

Are texts enough to prove adultery? ›

Are Text Messages Usable As Proof of Adultery? Yes. Text messages can be used as proof of adultery. South Carolina evidence rules allow admission of statements by an opposing spouse, including texts, even though the statements are made outside of court.

How long do emotional affairs last? ›

Over times, these things can go away. With the loss of those elements the affair also dies out. However, emotional affairs can also last years. People even will leave one relationship to begin a new relationship with their affair partner.

What are the three types of adultery? ›

5 Types of Adultery You Probably Did not Know About
  • Passionate Adultery. Couples frequently consider physical unfaithfulness first with regards to put stock in infringement in the relationship, however regularly ignore enthusiastic disloyalty. ...
  • Energetic Adultery. ...
  • Mental Adultery. ...
  • Visual Adultery. ...
  • Spiritual Adultery.
Jun 20, 2018

What 4 things will ruin a relationship? ›

Gottman and Silver have identified the four destroyers to a good relationship. They call them the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. So dangerous to a healthy, loving relationship are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

What is emotional intimacy to a man? ›

“Emotional intimacy could be defined as allowing yourself to connect more deeply with your partner through actions that express feelings, vulnerabilities and trust,” says Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City and faculty member in Columbia University's clinical psychology Ph. D. program.

What lack of intimacy does to a woman? ›

Self-Esteem Issues

Where physical intimacy is lacking, this can cause self-esteem problems. If your partner shows no interest in you physically, you might feel like they're not attracted to you anymore, and this can cause you to question yourself.

What is a one sided marriage? ›

A one-sided marriage is when one partner has more control in the relationship. You go to their parents' house for the holidays, you hang out with their friends, you go on vacation where they want to go. You don't have a lot of say in the matter.

Is a live in girlfriend considered a spouse? ›

Absolutely. Heterosexual couples and homosexual couples can be both life partners and spouses in the United States. Both get the same rights and protections as any other couple.

What does the Bible say about living together before marriage? ›

Marriage is God's design

Finally, living together in a sexually intimate relationship outside of marriage is displeasing to God. Frequently, in the Bible, God speaks to the topic of sexual immorality. “Flee from sexual immorality,” he says through the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 6:18; See also Gal.

What is soft cheating? ›

Also known as emotional-cheating, micro cheating falls under the umbrella of emotional infidelity and refers to small, seemingly insignificant things that a person can do that, while not explicitly unfaithful, can carry with them the hint of infidelity.

What is one thing all cheaters do? ›

If there's one thing all cheaters have in common, it's poor impulse control. They are tempted by an opportunity and lack the emotional maturity needed to resist that temptation.

How common are emotional affairs? ›

Emotional cheating is highly common. In fact, the results of one study showed that 78.6 percent of men and 91.6 percent of women had admitted to an emotional affair at some point in their relationship.

How do men start emotional affairs? ›

Emotional affairs are often a result of feeling neglected, misunderstood or overlooked in a relationship. If a person believes that their partner does not value them, or does not have time for them, then they might strike up a friendship with a new person who offers more emotional investment and support.

How do emotional affairs begin? ›

Emotional affairs usually begin as friendships. Some platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships. When you find this other person attractive or when you share sexual chemistry, you face a slippery slope pulling you away from your marriage.

What is the difference between an emotional affair and a physical affair? ›

There are two types of cheating – physical and emotional. While the former is self-explanatory, involving an attraction that leads to some kind of physical proximity, intimacy, and contact; the latter, has more to do with finding a connection with someone on a psychological level.

Do emotional affairs ever stop? ›

Becoming emotionally intimate with someone other than your partner can be just as hurtful for your partner as a physical affair — but emotional affair recovery is possible. Infidelity can be a relationship ender.

Is texting an emotional affair? ›

Emotional infidelity texting is a form of cheating that occurs when you engage in intimate conversations sharing intimate details with someone other than your partner. It's important to note that this kind of inappropriate texting doesn't have to be sexually explicit.

How often do emotional affairs turn physical? ›

“It's been said that 50 to 70% of all emotional affairs eventually lead to physical cheating and sex.”

What is considered an emotional relationship? ›

The term often describes a bond between two people that mimics or matches the closeness and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship while not being physically consummated. An emotional affair is sometimes referred to as an affair of the heart.

What is an emotionally distant relationship? ›

An emotionally distant partner is someone who does not have access to their own emotions, and therefore cannot share them with you. In other words, they are not trying to hide things from you, but they cannot give what they don't have.

Can you have an emotional relationship with someone? ›

An emotional connection is a bundle of subjective feelings that come together to create a bond between two people. The word emotional means to arouse strong feelings. The feelings may be anger, sorrow, joy, love or any of thousands of emotions that humans experience.

Is emotional cheating worse than physical cheating? ›

Emotional cheating is intimacy between two people that doesn't involve a physical relationship at first. This type of infidelity can be just as damaging to a committed relationship as a physical affair.

Can you love someone and be emotionally detached? ›

Emotional detachment can occur in relationships as well. Periods of disconnect are common in relationships and usually resolve once both partners are in a place to reconnect.

What is stonewalling in a relationship? ›

Stonewalling, one of the Four Horsemen, is Dr. John Gottman's term for one or both partners shutting down when feeling overwhelmed during conflict. Rather than confronting the issue, someone who is stonewalling will be unresponsive, making evasive maneuvers such as tuning out, turning away, or acting busy.

Can emotionally detached people fall in love? ›

Emotionally unavailable people can certainly fall in love. They just might have a harder time recognizing when it happens and putting their feelings into words. Remember, emotional unavailability often stems from a deeper fear of intimacy or rejection — fears that can complicate someone's experiences with love.

Am I in love or just emotionally attached? ›

Love evokes fond feelings and actions toward the other person, particularly. Attachment is driven by how you feel about yourself with the degree of permanence and safety someone gives you, based on your past relationships. In other words, with love, your person is “the one” you have feelings for.

How do emotional affairs start? ›

Emotional affairs usually begin as friendships. Some platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships. When you find this other person attractive or when you share sexual chemistry, you face a slippery slope pulling you away from your marriage.


1. Marriage Advice - I Am Having An Emotional Affair?
(ZeeZee Talks)
2. EMOTIONAL AFFAIR - Signs This Happening In Your Relationship [8 SIGNS]
(Kristin Coaching)
3. Nine Signs of an Emotional Affair
(Affair Recovery)
4. How to Heal from Infidelity: What If It Was Just an Emotional Affair?
(Affair Recovery)
5. Emotional Affairs: What You Need to Know
(Monika Hoyt)
6. The Impact and Consequences of an Emotional Affair — Susan Winter
(Susan Winter)


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