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  • Writer's pictureSonia Neale

Having an Emotional Affair

An emotional affair is when an intimate non-sexual relationship occurs with someone other than your partner and threatens to overtake and create an emotional void in the partnership/marriage. A platonic relationship can become reliant on sharing of emotional detail. This is not about venting to a close friend, that is fine and not the issue at hand. Problems occur when conversations become loaded with flirting and sexual innuendoes. It is much safer than a physical affair, because all you seem to be doing is “talking.” And this is where the problem lies.

An emotional affair is a form of infidelity. It also can mean that there is something lacking in the partnership of the committed couple. A physical affair is also a sign that things are not going well in a relationship. But I want to talk about just what an emotional affair is and the damage it can cause. It’s called emotional infidelity.

This is where someone invests more emotional support into someone outside of the marriage. It can start out as friendship but there is a line crossed when the emotional affair has replaced the intimate talk that couples need to have, even if, especially if, there are problems with emotional intimacy in a relationship.

Infidelity comes when you are looking more and more to emotional support from that person at the expense of your partnership. Emotional affairs can happen on text messages that are flirty with a sexual overtone and kept secret from the partner. They can arise out of feelings of being misunderstood, feeling neglected or rejected or they are bored with their relationship or want to make their partners jealous or they are having sexual intimacy problems. The impact of this on a relationship can be catastrophic.

Emotional affairs break trust, with feelings of betrayal and leave the other person feeling inadequate or duped. The other party may claim nothing sexual happened so they justify it as not cheating. Or damaging. An emotional affair can end the relationship.

Couples counselling can help enormously at this point. It can be easier to talk to your partner in the presence of a third neutral party. This is where feelings and emotions can be managed, talked about and solutions found. It can also be the start of a better relationship for the couple where they both have to face each other with not just hard truths, but honesty, integrity and love. Couples counselling helps people find the original love they had for each other when they first met.

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