An emotional affair generally starts innocently enough as a friendship. Through investing emotional energy and time with one another outside the marital relationship, the former platonic friendship can begin to form a strong emotional bond which hurts the intimacy of the spousal relationship.
While there are those who believe that an emotional affair is harmless, most marriage experts view an emotional affair as cheating without having a sexual relationship.
Emotional affairs are often gateway affairs leading to full-blown sexual infidelity. About half of such emotional involvements do eventually turn into full-blown affairs, sex and all.
For some individuals, the most hurtful and painful consequences of an emotional affair is the sense of being deceived, betrayed, and lied to. Any part of one's life that is essentially kept a secret from a partner is dangerous to the trust between spouses.
An emotional affair is when a person not only invests more of their emotional energy outside their marriage but also receives emotional support and companionship from the new relationship.
In an emotional affair, a person feels closer to the other party and may experience increasing sexual tension or chemistry.
If you believe that a person's emotional energy is limited, and if your spouse is sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with someone else, an emotional affair has developed.
Although cheaters are often guilt-free in an emotional affair because there is no sex involved, their spouses often view an emotional affair as damaging as a sexual affair.
Much of the pain and hurt from an emotional affair is due to the deception, lies, and feelings of being betrayed.
A platonic friendship can evolve into an emotional affair when the investment of intimate information crosses the boundaries set by the married couple. An emotional affair is opening a door that should remain closed.
One of the differences between a platonic friendship and an emotional affair is that an emotional affair is kept secret.
Another key difference is that people involved in an emotional affair often feel a sexual attraction for one another. Sometimes the sexual attraction is acknowledged and sometimes it isn't.
Here are several warning signs that you may be having an emotional affair:
If you answer "yes" to more than 3 of these questions below, you are courting disaster in your marriage by being in an emotional affair.
Here are some warning signs that your spouse is having an emotional affair:
Although there are differing views on how to protect your marriage from being hurt by an emotional affair, your marriage is likely best protected from an emotional affair by the two of you working together to have a marriage built on a strong foundation of friendship and trust.
Some may agree or disagree with the often-made suggestion to limit your interpersonal relationships or friendships.
In M.Gary Neuman's book, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, he makes some controversial statements. He recommends that readers insulate and protect their marriage against emotional infidelity by avoiding friendships with members of the opposite sex.
Neuman believes that limiting your relationships/friendships is "the single most important thing you can do for your marriage."
One of the reasons some people question this suggestion to limit certain friendships is because it can create a sense of isolation for couples. Isolating a spouse from friendships is one of the warning signs of emotional abuse. A spouse does not have exclusive, 100 percent rights over a mate's friendships, interests, and sense of space and privacy.
Neuman's other suggestions include:
You can affair-proof your marriage by working together to have a relationship based on friendship and trust.
Here are some suggestions on how to build that foundation and keys to protecting your marriage from an emotional affair.