Emotional Affairs: 5 Signs You May be Vulnerable

emotional_affairsNot all affairs are physical. But that doesn’t mean an emotional affair is any less serious because of a lack of sexual contact. Emotional affairs betray a partner’s trust and make it difficult to regain closeness and intimacy within your relationship. For some people, women especially, it can be even harder to recover from an emotional affair than a physical one, since it can’t be “rationalized away” as having “mere” lustful impulses. For many women (and of course some men too), the thought that their partner is emotionally invested with somebody else can be much more threatening.  While it’s certainly easy to know if you’re having a physical affair, an emotional affair might not always be so easy to indentify when it’s going on.

It’s black and white if you’ve had a physical affair. Either you have, or you haven’t. Emotional affairs are often a little foggier. How can you be certain you are simply enjoying a really close friendship and not engaging in an emotional affair? It’s not always so clear and it’s often easier to tell in retrospect. Part of this uncertainty often has to do with someone’s self-denial since it is natural to not want to admit to oneself that you are betraying your partner. So, examining some of the most common factors that exist while people are in emotional affairs can help you honestly assess your situation. The more of the following warning signs that you can identify, the more likely you’re vulnerable to having an emotional affair (or are already in one).


1. You feel sexually attracted to someone outside of your relationship

It might seem obvious to point out that being sexually attracted to someone else is a definite warning sign, but it’s also important to remember that not all emotional affairs involve sexual desire or even overt flirtatiousness.  Of course, it is possible to be sexually attracted to someone other than your partner and have an otherwise healthy relationship.

2. You feel disconnected from your partner

Feeling distance or being disconnected from your partner is probably the most critical sign of being vulnerable to having an emotional affair. It is also why emotional affairs are so pernicious. People who aren’t getting their emotional needs met within their relationship often seek fulfillment elsewhere. They may crave for more intimacy in their relationship, but end up damaging the closeness they once had. Then, of course, they end up feeling more disconnected than before. One good litmus test for whether you’re having an emotional affair is if you’d feel comfortable telling your partner about getting your emotional needs met through this person. If not, the relationship is likely more than just a friendship!

3. Your current relationship is a low priority

Maybe part of why you feel distanced from your partner is because your relationship has become stale. Sometimes the allure and excitement of a new connection with someone can be more appealing than putting work into a long-term relationship when it has become a low priority for you. Are you and your partner not happy about the state of your relationship, but neither of you feels like broaching the subject?  Is your relationship like the painting on the wall you’ve had for so long that you never really look at it anymore? If no one is acknowledging things aren’t okay, it can lead to wandering interest.

4.  When you say or do things with another person that you wouldn’t do with your partner

Remember that excited feeling when you first started seeing your partner? When the initial excitement of a new friendship is maintained for longer than you’d normally expect, it might be an indicator that you are more than “just friends.” Are you eager to share news and swap stories with this new person right away, yet have little interest in sharing them with your partner? The difference between a close friendship and one that’s turned into an emotional affair is that the latter tends to escalate in terms of frequency and intensity. A friendship is also especially vulnerable to becoming an emotional affair when a big part of the relationship is based on complaining about problems in your respective relationships.

5. You’ve become very interested in connecting with old friends & old crushes on social media.

On the one hand, social media has made it much easier to have any type of affair. However, it also makes it easier to know if your partner is having one. Infidelity, whether emotional or physical, is often discovered when someone comes across a partner’s text messages or social media (intentionally or accidentally). Social networking sites like Facebook can make it especially easy to reconnect with childhood friends, or old high school flames. Reconnecting to past emotions can be a very powerful temptation and is likely to make you vulnerable to having an emotional affair.

Now What?

If you feel you may be having an emotional affair, or if you think as a result of the above considerations you or your partner are especially vulnerable to having one, it would be a good idea to seek professional help either with or without your partner.


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