9 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair

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It seems that emotional affairs are on the upswing. We spend a lot of time with others outside our home, at work, the gym, or engaging in hobbies. We also easily connect with others on social media. Some platonic relationships can slowly morph into deep emotional friendships. When this person is attractive to you or sexual chemistry exists, you face a slippery slope pulling you away from your marriage.

What Is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affairs can wreak havoc on your marriage as well as your family. You only have a certain amount of “emotional energy.” When you are not focusing this energy on your spouse, where might it be going?

Most emotional affairs and physical affairs start as benign friendships. There usually is no intention for these bonds to become anything more. Regardless, the line is thin between close friendships and emotional affairs. Furthermore, emotional affairs can also quickly lead to flirtation and sexual encounters.

Signs of an Emotional Affair

If you are not quite sure if you are having an emotional affair, here are nine signs that indicate you probably are:

  • Frequent contact when you are not together. You frequently communicate with this person and at questionable hours. You devote a lot of time texting, emailing, or video calling this person.
  • He or she becomes the first person you want to call with any “news.” You have some exciting news to share or you have had a bad day and this is the person whom you call. You may not be sharing with your spouse very much at all.
  • This person takes over your thoughts. You think about him or her constantly. This person is on your mind when you wake up in the morning, when you go to sleep at night, and a lot of time in between. You have this person in mind when you are getting dressed, hoping he or she will notice your appearance. 
  • You believe this person really “gets” you. You start to feel like he or she really understands you, even better than your spouse. 
  • You discuss very personal topics, such as the problems in your current relationship. You share all or most of your problems and concerns with this person. As you do this, you also grow more discontent with your spouse.
  • You frequently compare your spouse to him or her. You may get angry with your spouse for not doing things like the other person does. You start to idealize this person while your partner begins to look worse in your eyes. You may find yourself being more critical of your spouse. This is sure to create a good guy/bad guy dynamic between these two people.
  • You spend a lot of time together. You find excuses or create reasons to spend time with him or her.
  • You start to lie or keep secrets. This usually entails lying by omission. If you purposely do not tell your spouse about your talks, meetings, lunches, texts and phone calls, alarm bells should be ringing!Are you deleting messages from your phone or do you deny the communication you have with him/her when asked?
    If you are hiding things or lying when you know deep down that the behavior is not okay. Would you be mortified if your spouse heard a taped conversation between you two?
  • Your spouse gets less of you while your special person gets more. Whether it is less communication, affection, your thoughts, or your innermost world, your time and focus are taken from your partner and transferred to this other person.

Impact of Emotional Affairs

These types of affairs can seem like a vacation from your everyday life. You only get the best of this other person and they see the best of you. You do not see them “24/7” and learn about their bad habits and unattractive features. Your image of them is mostly based on fantasy and an idealized persona, which will certainly make this relationship very alluring.

If you think are having an emotional affair, it may be time to seriously evaluate the state of your marriage.

Even when such affairs do not cross the line by becoming physical, the impact can be just as damaging and puts your marriage in the danger zone. The intimacy involved in emotional affairs can frequently have a degree of intensity deeper than a sexual affair because you are more emotionally invested.

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  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Updated March 21, 2019.

  2. Bisignano A. Is Your Friendship Becoming an Emotional Affair? goodtherapy.org. Updated August 22, 2018.