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Infidelity and Emotional Affairs

Updated on December 13, 2012

Infidelity in all forms is hurtful, but the emotional affair can be just as painful to a marriage as full sexual affair. It is the loss of trust, the holding of secrets and the lies that hurts the most no matter how far of a line you have crossed or haven’t crossed.

Many people believe that it is not cheating as long there is no sexual contact, but marriage experts would disagree with this theory, as many physical affairs can start as these so called “affairs of the heart”.

What is an emotional affair?

Betrayal is not all about the sex, it can be a deep betrayal of the heart, of the love that was perceived to exist and the trust that comes with that.

Unlike a physical relationship where the betrayal of having sex with another person, is a known conscious act, making where the line to cross into infidelity easy to see. An emotional affair isn’t always so easy to distinguish. It can be complicated by a genuine friendship, which makes it difficult for both those that are involved in this type of infidelity and their spouse’s to identify what is really happening before it is too late.

But knowing the warning signs of when a friendship is starting to cross into something more, can be a great way at not only identifying if your or someone you know is having an emotional affair, but it can also be a good way to safeguard any new friendships that may develop in the future from crossing into this dangerous territory.


Signs that you are having an emotional affair with a friend or co-worker

1.  When you take time to prepare your appearance before you know that you will see them, make up and perfume or cologne are more often used

2. When there are aspects of the friendship that you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with or having your spouse know about, or even going so far as to keep the friendship itself is a secret

3. You find yourself looking forward to seeing them again, and hoping for alone time is a sure sign that your friendship may mean more to you than you realise

4. Strong defence of your friendship “we are just friends” is a common line used

5. Innocent so called “safe” flirting and banter, which can so quickly turn into the beginning feelings of sexual tension

6. A feeling that your friend understands you better than your spouse, they “get you”


7. You share your thoughts and feelings and any problems that you may have (including in your marriage or relationship) Even waiting eagerly to tell them news and happenings in your life (sometimes before your spouse) confiding everything to them, trusting them the same or more than your partner with your feelings

8.  Giving your friend personal gifts, that are of value to the both of you are intimate reminders of a relationship building

9. Intimacy between you and your partner lessens, as you first emotionally withdraw than sexually withdraw

10. Daydreams and fantasies are sometimes or always filled with thoughts of your friend over your partner or spouse

11. Jealousy of any romantic interest your friend may have, outside of spending time with you

12. Mentally or verbally comparing your friend to your spouse or partner, perhaps feeling disappointed that your spouse may not have the same qualities

13. You start lying to your spouse and possibly others about how much time you are spending with your friend, going out of your way to down play their significance to you and your day

The dangers of the emotional affair

What starts out innocent enough, can indeed have far reaching consequences that many people don’t realise as the friendship grows deeper. But when you start to place your time, emotions and intimacy with somebody else you are indeed sabotaging the very relationship that you promised to uphold.

The biggest danger of an emotional affair is the fact that it is emotional. It can build slowly like a thief in the night unknown to all, as slowly the love you felt for your partner gets transferred to your friend, to that member of the opposite sex that knows you so well, that person that you can’t stop thinking about until before you know it you have fallen out of love with your partner and in love with your friend. A lot of physical affairs start this way as co-workers and acquaintances become more than “just good friends”



Another danger of the emotional affair is that it can happen even when you are in a happy relationship; it doesn’t necessarily need there to be trouble in paradise for this type of affair to occur. So a lot of people are not looking out for it, nor are they guarding against it, happy to enjoy the friendship for what it first appears, often times unaware of their changing feelings until it is too late.


One of the hardest things for those involved in the emotional affair can be trying to end it. Even without sex the bond that has been created is a true emotional connection that goes beyond the physical act of cheating, and ending all contact with the one person that they have come to believe truly understands them, right or wrong can be a very daunting task.

This person, this friend has been fulfilling their emotions needs away from their long term relationship for some time, and many emotional affairs take months to end, even when the spouse has been told otherwise.

This bond and connection can also create what many believe is a stronger relationship then the one they are currently in, leading to a high risk of marriage or relationship break down without some serious work and commitment revaluation.



Damage of the emotion affair

So many times those involved in an emotional affair make the excuse that because they have not physical cheated that it is therefore not the same and is somehow less harmful, less hurtful. This however is far from true.

The same degree of deception is used in the end as is used in the more traditional affairs, with many half-truths told, lies and cover ups used. All of which breaks the faith and trust of marriage, creating all the mistrust, insecurities, anger and heartbreak that accompanies the pain of infidelity.

By giving your time and affection to another, you have taken it away from your partner or spouse. Intentional or not, you have caused them pain, sometimes even more than a causal meaningless fling would have. By having an emotional affair, you give if not your whole heart, than a piece of it that should have be kept reserved for your spouse or long term partner. And it may require more than a simple sorry to heal the hurt caused.

Marriage Counselling

It is possible to heal a relationship after the damage of an emotional affair, but the first thing that needs to happen is for the emotional affair to be acknowledged for what it was and for the “friendship” to end, then and only then can true healing have a chance start.

But healing after the affair can be a difficult road for some with many couples needing time to think over what they truly what now that this has happened in their relationship, and this is not only natural but healthy.

The use of marriage counselling or relationship therapy to help them deal with the causes of the affair and maybe move on, past the betrayal of this ever growing type of infidelity, can be of great help to many, and should be seriously considered if this type of affair has affected your relationship.



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    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 4 years ago from Australia

      I found it to be a fascinating subject to research so I am glad that you found it interesting!

    • AmandaJon profile image

      Amanda Jones 4 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this very informative, thank you for sharing

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 5 years ago from Australia


      Its the very title of friend that can make the emotional affair dangerous waters to tread, as so often affection held for a friend can so often develop into something much deeper. thank you for sharing your experince

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 5 years ago from Australia

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and to add some thoughtful points, emotional affairs can be a confusing thing to figure out and I like your idea of keeping friendships tied to the marriage instead of keeping them separate

    • Motherbynature profile image

      Motherbynature 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      And that is exactly why married people don't need to have friends of the opposite sex. My husband thought this was unreasonable until his little friend became something more. Very thorough and informative hub. Thank you.

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Hello my new friend,

      My name is Miss Jenifer, it's my pleasure to write you today. actually, i seek for true friendship and

      partner so i contact you and it pleased me to email you just to say hi, it will also please me to know more about you, if you wish too. I know a true friend is a gift from God. I will be happy to see your mail and also to send you my pictures and more details about me! contact me direct on this my id not in the site,

      Hope to hear from you

      Thanks Jenifer

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      Although many disagree, Inot think that a married person should have a close friend of the opposite sex because emotional affairs mostly begin with these friendships. The workplace keeps them together long enough to build a dangerous relationship. If a spouse's opposite sex friend is not a friend of his wife, it should end. Marriage is forsaking others as bosom buddies, especially the opposite sex. Sometimes they are friends because they are attracted to each other intimately even though they deny it. It is too close for comfort.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 5 years ago from Australia

      I am so sorry to hear of your pain

      So often we protect ourselves from the obvious threats to our marriage that the emotional affair can literally sneak up on us unaware leaving us totally unprepared for the effect it can have on our hearts

      Thank you so much for sharing your story

    • profile image

      Lucy 5 years ago

      I had an emotional affair with a guy from work for 18 months. It just sort of happened until he totally consumed my whole life. We were both married. One day he said he just couldn't see me any more as he didn't want to cheat on his wife. I was devastated and ended up having a nervous breakdown. It's ruined my marriage even tho we are still together. Every day I still think of him and just start crying when I'm on my own or if I hear certain songs. I never knew of anything like this until it happened to me. We had both been with our spouses for 25 years. I don't think I will ever get over him and still feel just so very lonely and miss him so much.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I am so sorry to hear that this has happened to you and your family, So many times the betrayal of trust isn't seen if there was no sex, but its not about the sex, that is in fact just the physical act of how one is feeling about another person.

      I truly hope that you can find the right path firstly for you and than your family, I wish you nothing but the best...

    • profile image

      Vanessa 6 years ago

      Going through this right now. Has destroyed my family. Taken my children's father from them. He chose to leave. Still denying his affair. She has a live in boyfriend and is 10 yrs younger. I am not sure how he could imagine anything will come of it. I am so very angry and hurt and can't even look at him. This isn't the first time. But because there is no sex so he leads me to beleieve I accepted it. Trust was broken though and he hasn't made an effort to repair it and now here we are. About to battle it out over our kids and house and money. All for a "friendship".

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I have to agree that the pain of what you went through sounds very similar to what a betrayed partner can go through, "reverse cheating" has a certain ring to it and i can understand why you use it...

      thanks for the read Harlen ..

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      Great hub and very informative. In the past have experienced something similar. I'm talking about a withdrawal of reasonable emotion, affection, communication and sex. What would you say if I said I considered this situation to also be a from of infidelity? I suffered in a marriage under such conditions. If she had a boyfriend, it wouldn't have been any more painful, but she didn't. I called it "reverse cheating" at the time. That was a long time ago.

      This hub reminded me of that and I thought I would throw it out there.

      Great Hub.

      - Harlan

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      THank you so very much :)

    • christalluna1124 profile image

      christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas

      Great hub. very educational for those who feel they are getting too close. If you feel things about your friend you wouldn't want your partner to know about's a good sign that you are too close.

      Warmest regards,


    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I have to agree that the power of an emotional bond is far stronger than just simple sex, which is exactly why these types of affairs can hurt so badly all those involved

    • amir'sgirl profile image

      amir'sgirl 6 years ago

      emotional attachment is one great bond that's really hard to break. And it is more than painful than physical attachment...

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      thanks so much for taking the time to read this, I have to agree having you partner give their love to another can hurt so many people worse then a simple physical affair where it is only about sex...

      thanks for your thoughts

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Interesting and very educative hub you actually shared in here.I feel that the most painful type of affair is the emotional one.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia


      thank you, I do believe that its vital for all couples to learn as much as they can about how to have long healthy relationship


      You are right, in that many affairs both emotional and physical can be a symptom of deeper problems in the long term relationship, and it takes a lot of courage, understanding and love to be able to work on these to make the relationship stronger before an affair can happen, and even more after one has occurred.

      thanks so much for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment

    • Goyakla profile image

      Goyakla 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a brilliant hub about something that doesn't so much happen to us as much as we choose to cultivate it as you so rightly point out here. There is always a choice so nobody can claim innocence here when an affair does develop. I would also say that there is never smoke without fire so there is also always a reason why someone might choose to cultivate or nurture an affair and normally because they don't have the courage to address the problem they are having in their own "happy" relationship.

    • profile image

      AHS 6 years ago

      Wow, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head (so to Thank you for sharing that info. It is important for couples (especially young couples) to understand that relationships can get off track very easily. Once trust is is really hard to get it back. Thanks again for that article......good read. AHS

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I am so glad that you learnt some new things from this, keeping your relationship on course is so important so its wise to learn as much as we can. thanks for read and taking the time to comment

    • mojefballa profile image

      Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Very educating and great piece of information to all and sundry.Honestly,i learnt a lot from this article because i really want to make a peaceful relationship in life.Thanks for this article,bravo.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I totally agree with you Dexis, it is the emotional connection that is the most dangerous in these types of affairs which can make it hard for many emotional affairs to end.

      Thanks for taking the time to read this

    • DexisView profile image

      Dexi 6 years ago from New England

      Wonderfully worded, nighthag. I believe the emotional connection to be the hardest part to break. Much more than the physical connection. Many people can have empty sex with no emotion. It's the emotional part that gets inside and makes the connection so strong.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      it can be a confusing subject for many people, and easy to deny as many are not even aware of the fact that they are cheating emotionally until its too late..

      I am very glad that you found this useful, thanks for taking to time to leave a comment

    • smizzled301 profile image

      smizzled301 6 years ago from maryland

      Wow, Im releaved that someone has finally discussed this. Thanks for taking the time to shed light on this subject. So often this is denied, obviously because the person denying it is guilty...and any affair hurts.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      any type of affair is painful, but it has been said that the emotional affair can be the most painful

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 6 years ago

      nighthag, what seems quite innocuous, can indeed, be quite harmful...Great hub!

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia


      I couldn't agree more, emotional affairs are sneaky things, that can happen in the most mundane places

      thanks for your comment!

      PR Morgan

      Thank you, I do firmly believe that is information every couple should know thanks for taking the time to read

    • PR Morgan profile image

      PR Morgan 6 years ago from Sarasota Florida

      Great hub...well researched and organized.

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 6 years ago

      Excellent Hub! I think Emotional Affairs often feel much more threatening than physical ones, because the are played out in everyday settings. No real extra effort needed.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      I am so glad that you found the information here useful, emotional affairs can hurt so much even without when physical lines are not crossed.

      thanks for taking the time to read this

    • Dreamer08 profile image

      Dreamer08 6 years ago from Philippines

      Very useful and informative hub! The workplace is the most common place for any kind of affairs to happen. Thanks for sharing~ And thanks for dropping by my hub, too. ^_^

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      A.A. Zavala

      its a sad fact, that the work place is the most common place for these affairs to start, thanks for the comment

      always exploring

      I am so glad that you found this to be useful, I think being forewarned of the dangers of emotional affairs, both men and women can safe guard themselves better.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I certainly found this very informative and useful. I've often witnessed this in the work place. Thank you.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      This happens all the time where I work. Everyone there use to date or be married to someone at the office. Thanks again for sharing.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia


      thank you for stopping in, your thoughts on relationships and love are always insightful,


      I am so glad that you found this useful, emotional affairs are so dangerous as often we can fall into them without realising. Thanks for the bookmark!

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia


      I am glad that you found this informative, Its certainly can be a confusing issue for many couples

      Doug Turner Jr.

      you are so right in your observation, most of these types of affairs start at work, where more hours can be spent in the company of co workers then your actual spouse, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment

    • kirutaye profile image

      kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK

      This is such a really useful hub that I've bookmarked it. Well written.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      An interesting and informative hub, thank you so much for sharing this great piece of research.

    • profile image

      Doug Turner Jr. 6 years ago

      I've seen countless numbers of these types of affairs bloom at various jobs. So and so is always talking to so and so, pretty soon they're always having lunch and giggling together, pretty soon they're having an affair and getting divorces. In the workplace we see people in action, whereas at home, too often, we see the spouse in a relaxed, tired, or bored state.

      Good info here, nighthag.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Interesting hub that is quite educating.thanks for sharing this great article which i really learn t from.