When two people are in love, they don’t flippantly make a decision to cheat. Whether physical or emotional, stepping outside of a relationship to get your needs met is usually a gradual process. Sometimes, it catches the cheating partner unaware because it is a feeling that gradually progresses over the duration of a relationship. But, just as much as there are signs you are physically cheating, there are signs you are emotionally cheating as well.
A sexual encounter usually isn’t what violated the relationship, but the result of an already ongoing emotional relationship. While sexually cheating is bad enough, emotionally cheating is dangerous because it is able to be hidden… For the moment.
When you’re having sexual intercourse outside of your relationship, it’s just that; you’re either getting your back blown on or you’re not. However, when it comes to emotions, there are a lot of things that one can hide behind before everything explodes, because trust and believe, it will soon boil over.
5 Signs You Are Emotionally Cheating
In this article:
We’re just friends
Being in denial about how far the relationship has come begins with those 3 fatal words; we’re just friends. Those words usually become the cover up for something that you already know isn’t right in your heart. But by declaring your friendship and denying the obvious feelings, you believe this will be good enough.
Dressing to cheat
You stopped putting on his favorite dress and wearing his favorite perfume and started dressing in ways that are appealing to the eyes of the person you are emotionally cheating with. You started going out of your way to put on your Sunday’s best, trying to impress the person that doesn’t belong to you.
Secrets create bonds. When you have a secret with someone, you have a special relationship with them that goes past hi and bye communication. When your conversation is different than it would be if your partner was with you, there is now an ‘us’. And when there is an “us”, someone is always on the outside of that… and in an emotional relationship, it usually becomes your partner.
This person is given the privilege of hearing everything your heart is feeling. You confide in them about everything that is going on before you would (if you even) tell the person that you are committed to. This person has all rights to everything mental/emotional because you believe they care more about you than the person who’s no longer proving themselves worthy.
The Illusion of Mr. Right
Being in an emotional relationship creates an illusion of the Mr. Right ‘you’ve always wanted.’ You’re completely blinded by the fact that you’re creating this person by what you choose and choose not to see. You tell them everything you’re feeling, where your man is slipping and they build themselves based off of his shortcomings. He tells you how beautiful you are, even when you don’t feel it. He is interested in your hobbies, your adoration for animals, and he doesn’t understand why your man isn’t treating you like you like the queen you are.
An emotional relationship binds something more deadly than a penis and a vagina, it binds hearts. When opening your heart to an emotional relationship, you’re creating a connection that becomes easy to hide, but difficult to break. A woman’s heart responds to what she hears and an emotional relationship starts in the ear and festers in the heart.
BMWK – do you think that emotional cheating is just as bad (if not worse than having a physical affair?) Why or Why not?
Up Next: 5 Signs Your Spouse is Your Roommate
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on December 16, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
About the Author: Angel Starr is a Relationship Coach who helps women prepare for healthy, whole and successful relationships. Angel began her coaching business to help women overcome struggles with identity, value and esteem that aren’t often thought of as problematic until in a relationship. She can be reached on her website: https://www.angelstarronline.com/
Xavier Lanier says
Dealing with this crap now. We got married as teenagers and took my wife out the projects. Went to military and cheated the whole marriage in my 20s. I was a good father but now the best husband. Last couple years I got serious about my marriage. Been married 15yrs and I am in my early 30s. After 13 years of being a homemaker my wife now works and has a career. My wife had a emotional affair with a coworker for 6 months. She confessed and said she wanted space but she was going to leave me with the kids! When she confessed everything there were a lot of red flags about the situation. My wife didnt know the guy was married. He lied to her and she felt a few months into it he wasnt that interested as he was. She just got caught. She finally woke up and know she made a mistake. I made a lot of mistakes too. But for her to be in love and defending some other guy is really tough to go through as a husband. Especially when she knew herself the other guy didnt want her. I relize she never been through any experiences of dating and college etc. This guy who was married just tried to use my wife a booty call. I told his btw the way. So there are no winners in this situation.
Xavier, I’m sorry to hear about your circumstances. I have been married for 9 years and I think it’s important for you to understand that women are so much more different than men; especially when it comes to sex. It is easier for a man to visually see a woman and want to sleep with her, engage in the ACT, wash off, pull up their pants and keep it moving. But women are emotional creatures. We engage in conversations, emotions…everything. In order to be successful in (just)the ACT of sex,a woman would have to be emotionally removed and that alone takes a lot of work. Notice I said ACT because for men that’s what it is. But for women there is more involved than just the act. I said all that to say, please don’t be too hard on her because of the whole emotional thing. That’s just how women are built. Have you forgiven her? Did she know about your sexcapades in the past? Has she forgiven you? Now that you have learned from your mistakes (you have, right?) and she from hers, you should really find a way to forgive each other. Perhaps counseling, praying together, do things different than you used to. Make new memories….
Thanks Nicci.We just finished 5 moths of counseling and things are really good between us. We are communicating which we never done. She knew about my sexcapades but stayed. But I found out she wasn’t happy for many years. She was needing affection and a friend not just a provider. I grew up in a small town and just believed in running your household with an ironfist. So both of us has changed for the better. I realized recently that am a little narcissistic so the hardest thing for me is my pride. But like they say Pride will leave you lonely.
Kim Mister says
This is an awesome read and very relatible! You never know what other married couples go through, but when you read articles like this you know that you are not the only one!
Great read. Glad to hear that im not the only husband going thru this ordeal with his wife. My situation is much like Xavier’s in which i wasn’t much of a boyfriend before we was married but found myself too become a very good husband and father. Only to hve my wife cheat on me physically & emotionally with a married man that she caught feelings for & defend after being caught. I must admit im at the hardest part of my life right now dealing with this. We have taken up counseling & are a little over a yr now into since its been discovered. Its really hard to trust someone who told another man all the things she at once told you.
Being a woman who has been the one who cheated emotionally and physically is tough. I never stopped loving my ex husband and quite often i felt guilty during the situation. I was with my ex for five years before we married and another five before i decided to viloate our marriage. While it was tough at first i convinced myself that i deserved to be loved and happy.however the person i was married to,no longer loved me or himself. I say this to say, pay attention to your spouse, the signs were there a long time before she cheated .
All of the above comments are 100% on point. My husband and I have been married for 19 years and together 5 before we married. Something in him changed and he just stopped caring about me and our marriage commitment. Getting emotionally involved with someone else added so much tension to an already tense situation. But please men pay attention…it’s not all about you and your needs. We have needs too and we have to meet in the middle to work together to meet each other’s needs..like Tyler Perry said in why did I get married…when you get married you drop the “I” for “we”.
I can relate to this. I was the wife who cheated. It started so innocently, we were “friends”. One thing led to another and I was spending way to much time with this man. I was going out to parties, and even visited his church. I was gone. Not only did I date this guy but I went back and started talking to my ex from when I was young. We were making plans to get together and possibly get “married”. My husband and I actually filed for divorce, but God. Once I realized that we were seriously going to get divorced we both decided to get our acts together and stop the divorce and seek counseling. We are still not living together but spending time together and making plans to move back in together as husband and wife.
We had lost a lot of respect for one another, he wasnt the provider I needed him to be. There are no excuses for my behavior but that is one of the reasons why I strayed. Hopefully my life will be a testimony of what not to do.
The signs are always there. Doesnt give the women the right to cheat but pay attention to your spouse. stop being cocky/prideful/narcisstic. Because another man will gladly be there to take your spot. Emotional Affair is worst because your heart is in it. When you make the mistake not paying attention this is what happens. Dressing up for the other man reminds me of the Madea movie Why did I get Married. Women cheat emotionally
Gloria Mushi says
In reading this material I found it help me to recognize the signs of emotional cheating, not just for married couples because I was dating this guy who was emotionally involved with all of his ex’s he went further to say he still had feelings for them and that they were friends. I just tried to be faithful and understanding but it was hurting me so bad. I hope one day to marry but this will never happen because he refuse to give me the most important part of him, his heart. Whenever he meets new females particular he would lavish in the attention they gave him. When I witnessed this with my own eyes I knew he and I were in trouble so as I confronted him he lashed out and I just refused to allow my pain to continue so with long nights of prayer and self help resources I cut the tides that caused me so much pain. I still care so deeply for him but the feeling is not the same so I know that I can make it if I just keep believing something better waits for me. Thank you for words that encourage me and a site that offers great hope for a woman like me who is seeking a long and beautiful marriage.
Thank you all. Lucky for me it happened before we got married. Ladies don’t make the mistake and think that men don’t hurt when we cheat on them. They do. My first real love, love me dearly and still do. We had not seen each other in 30 years. We recently made connection and is contemplating marriage. A lot has has happened between us but I thank God for our reunion and is asking him for a long and happy loving marriage between us. I will be praying for you all. Thanks again for sharing and God bless!
Hmmmmm! Dis is the best acticle i have read since i join dis group. From meeting d mail in my box to sighting the title i was hint so hard bcos i never knew there is anything like emotionally cheating. God have mercy and heal when it hurt most. Now that i know i will never fall a victim anymore. God bless and keep you all.
I loved this article, but from different angles…..I am involved in an emotional affair, which just became physical.
I knew this was wrong, but I am in sooo deep.
I realized then and now, that he would not be able to give me all that I desired, but the connection was crazy.
I have been urging him to reevaluate his marriage, to find points which help him to see that perhaps his feelings of contention can be fixed.
My question is……now how do you move on, or heal….yes the article addressed the signs of emotional healing…..is there any help for the recovery?
Are you speaking of you & your husband?
Angel Starr says
If you’re ready to heal, you must be willing to release anything that may hinder your healing. The relationship must come to an end and it’s imperative that you relinquish custody of his heart and pick up the pieces of yours. You can no longer have the rights to his heart and this has to become a reality to you. This man does not belong to you and your need to heal has to become your priority.
FORGIVE YOURSELF. Release any shame or guilt.
Remove all triggers. Anything that has to do with this man or anything associated with him – LET IT GO. Doesn’t matter what it is. A hat, a ring, movie ticket, flowers, picture.. Whatever it is, remove it.
It won’t be easy, but it is possible. As you slowly begin to build your life without distraction, begin to focus on who you are; your values, your beliefs, your boundaries, what type of woman you want to be and what you will no longer tolerate.
The healing process does not automatically go into effect at the ending of a relationship, you have to purposely choose that you want healing.
Hmmm I was convicted When I read this article….I’m not married but I have a fiance.
I read it a while back actually and I had to do so.e serious thinking.. with me it really did Begin as we are just friends. He could dance so I wanted to learn the moves no more.. I didn’t even realise I was infactuated by him ..
When I sat down and thought about it I realised that it was more than that. I found myself thinking about him more. These past weeks where a challenge. When I asked myself why I realised a lot of things that I didn’t before. Its mainly my partners Complaining..its like even if its a stranger that asks him for help he feels the need to complain. If he isn’t Complaining then he’s on his high chair smh. Also he’s financially irresponsible I’ve advised him many times but he doesn’t listen unless it comes from his homeboy. So many things. I guess spending time with eye candy that was raised to be positive made me forget that…now I’m over the eye candy and I’m fixing things
I was in a friend relationship and it stayed in the friend zone. Nothing sexual, no dates, no hook ups just phone conversations that supported both our marriages. I provided advice and interpretations from a woman’s view and he interpreted from a male point of view. But the friendship did the damage to my marriage for my husband. He felt cheated on and felt like an outsider in our relationship. My husband cheated with other woman, and his baby mama, but said there was no emotional involvement. He cannot let my friend mistake go (even though I did 10 years ago when he found out). We have been married for over 20 years and my husband refuses to go to counseling, instead he chooses to continue to punish me for my mistake. I am not convinced my friendship was wrong but I the secret of it was.
Unfortunately, when someone uses the past to manipulate you, it’s probably I’m your best interest to let it go. Especially, when they refuse to take ownership for their behavior. If you’ve gone for counseling and asked for forgiveness and ended the relationship and they are still using the past to punish you. For your own mental health, stay in prayer, continue counseling and move forward ALONE
One situation of cheating is never greater than the other partner’s cheating. Cheating is cheating it hurts just the same. It’s what you do moving forward, counseling, coming clean on both parts, is a healthy start.
I’ve been married to my husband for 3 years. The first time i found out my husband was having an online relationship with a woman that lives in Paris, France. He denied it until the end, not knowing i had all proof of his conversations on Skype. He finally admitted to his behavior and stopped. Now almost 2 years later he is back at it again. This time with 2 different women. Im tired now of trying to compete with his desire to have his ego stroked by other women. When i ask him what is lacking in our marriage to make him want to have an online affair. He gets angry and shuts down not talking at all. I don’t know what to do. I’m married but feel so alone. When i married we said divorce is not an option. But lately he act as if he hate me or im disgusting to him. He is a good father to our kids but lack emotion and loyalty to his wife.
How do you confront the behavior if you
suspect this emotional affair might be going
on in your marriage?
Ariel Holmes says
Emotional versus physical are the same thing. No one is greater they both cause extreme pain for individuals involved. It’s really important to communicate your hurt and happiness those are not considered complaints or nagging. A woman wants physical and emotional contact not all of it leads to the bed. If men could get get past the mental block of what they love so greatly being such an attack on their ego and see where things went wrong. Problems will be caught much more soon. Not excusing cheating but acknowledging steps and signs leading to success and failures of marriage. I personally like to talk to anyone and before you know it people not just men become close so soon. Then I when that occurs I have established relationships that are hard to let go of because we common interest or needs that interlock us. I’m a very caring person and love to help guide people who or not informed on how to manage in life. I by no means mean harm to my relationship. This post is dead on for me I must admit what stood out most was the dressing up. Not to please the other person fully but to feel good about myself and know that a person physically sees me as valuable. We all need checked and physical check is good. Appearance means a lot to me. I don’t do it for attention or jealousy but boost my morale I am a happy person and happiness can be created in beauty especially when it’s simple and plain.
As I read this article, I could relate, but I’m on the opposite end. I’m the wife of an emotionally cheating husband, who makes it seems as it’s all my fault. My husband is unique in the way that he communicates with everyone, but he’s still having emotionally relationships with multiple women.
One female friend, sends him a good morning picture almost everyday saying hi baby or hi boo. He knows that she’s interested in him, but feels because “he’s not there” (his words) that there isn’t anything wrong with this. This same women has sent him pictures of her breasts! But I’m wrong because I went into his old phone and found these pictures! He stated that he stopped speaking to her for a few months and told her that it was wrong (not certain that I completely believe this), also that she said something to him that he didn’t like.
Oh, and he has a blackpeoplemeet.com account, but I’m not supposed to have an issue with this either. He talks to women all over the country and stated that they provide him with the conversation that he needs. He also told me that folk hookup on FB, but I pointed out that FB isn’t a dating site. He states that he’s not looking for anyone and it’s just conversation.
We have been married for 12 years this past May and will be together for a total of 25 years later this year. I’m still in love with him, but I’m tired. I go through in my mind so much! He recently told me that he isn’t in love with me anymore and he doesn’t know if he wants the marriage, also, he isn’t sure if he will go to counseling.
He will be 50 this year and I want to do something nice for him and then leave. I cry so much and there are always scenarios in my mind. He has sexually cheated on me a few times and I told him that I needed transparency in order to heal, but he isn’t willing to do that. He keeps his phone face down now and has placed a password on the old phone.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I know that I need to go to counseling for me and I will.