What is emotional cheating in a marriage
The sneakiest kind of cheating isn't physical - and it's becoming more common
ShutterstockWhen you think of an affair, you are probably thinking of something physical. In your imagination, two people are likely meeting in a sleazy hotel to have sex behind their partners' backs. Most affairs are centered around sex.
But the most common way of cheating, you may never have touched the other person
Emotional affairs are defined as platonic or kind feelings towards another person that gradually become romantic or sexual while in a monogamous relationship with someone else. Or simply put: An emotional affair transcends the boundaries of friendship and goes in an inappropriate direction.
This kind of cheating is becoming more and more common. About 45 percent of men and 35 percent of women in the United States have admitted to having had an emotional affair in some way, according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
One reason for this frequency is that people don't see this emotional affair as a scam. Of course, people can have close friendships with the gender they are sexually attracted to, but an emotional affair goes one step further than the boundaries of normal friendship actually allow - and not everyone knows when to cross that line. Meanwhile, men and women can easily get in touch with new people via the internet and social media, which makes it easier to have an emotional affair.
"We stop seeing our partner as an emotional being"
Another reason is that many people are so busy that they don't even take the time to cultivate their emotional connection with their partner. Therefore, they no longer see their partner as someone with whom they can connect on an emotional level.
“In everyday tasks, our emotional needs are often pushed aside,” explains clinical psychologist Lynn Saladino. “We stop seeing our partner as an emotional being and see them more as someone who helps get things done and fulfills obligations. When that happens, it can be very tempting to look for support elsewhere. "
ShutterstockThis type of emotional attachment is shockingly easy to find and you can see their ugly downside in a very simple situation, such as when a person is distracted from their phone.
“Emotional separation is a breeding ground for affairs. In today's world, it's so easy to break up emotionally, ”relationship expert and psychologist Vijayeta Sinh told Business Insider. “We can eat with a friend and chat with another on Facebook. Most of us wake up and check our smartphones before we can even say good morning to the person sleeping next to us. This being far away while still being around allows us to keep secrets from the people who are important to us and to hide things comfortably. That is actually very dangerous, because it makes us believe that we are close to a person when in reality we may not be at all. "
The aftermath of an emotional affair can be worse than a physical one
About 88 percent of women said in a survey that their concern that their partner was having an emotional affair was greater than that of a physical one.
"I think emotional affairs are worse," said Brian Kearney, a single man, to Business Insider. "Human beings have sexual needs, and while there is no excuse in my eyes, physical affairs can be purely physical, while emotional affairs make you bond more deeply than you could with a purely physical one."
An emotional affair usually starts when you have a close connection with that person. Maybe you are looking forward to your conversations, want to hear their opinion on a difficult decision in your life. Perhaps you value their opinion more than that of others. This person can be anyone. From a colleague - 60 percent of all emotional affairs start at work - to someone you chat with online.
"They are common because many people have distanced themselves emotionally from their partners because of their hectic and distracted lives," said consultant and co-author of The Popular Man, David Bennett, told Business Insider. "Some partners may literally have days without significant, distraction-free emotional interaction with one another because of careers, hobbies, and so on, so they look elsewhere."
A friendship can slowly turn into an emotional affair
But then something changes. You start thinking about the person sexually or you think about what it would be like to date them. Your attraction to them becomes more romantic than friendly, and you begin to rely on them emotionally because they have established a connection with them.
From there, affairs can go even further - this is usually the point at which people become aware that they are having an emotional affair. You start flirting with the person, or you acknowledge your romantic feelings, or the affair eventually becomes physical.
These are similar to the signs of a "normal" affair and should be treated as such. Once you realize that you are having an emotional affair, you should find out whether you want to stay in your relationship or end it. In any case, you have to talk to your partner about it.
“If you've got caught, the first thing you have to admit is it. Everything, ”explains marriage and family therapist Michelene M. Wasil. “Stop lying and covering it up, it will only make things worse in the long run. Your partner will find out eventually, especially if you are trying to save the marriage. "
If you are really trying to save your relationship, it is important to find out why you went off course in your relationship. It's not your partner's fault that you cheated on them, but an emotional affair can be an indication that an emotional need has not been met in your relationship. This may be a result of your partner's actions or your own reluctance to be vulnerable to your partner.
Also read: These three signs tell you if someone is going to cheat - even before it happens
“While it is common to assume that people cheat because they felt they had no choice or because they felt invisible, emotional cheating is often a result of a person not knowing how they are Really lets her partner in, ”said Chelsea Leigh Trescott, relationship tips columnist and break-up coach. "From this perspective, emotional cheating does not happen because the partner is not there for them and someone else is, but because the person who cheats runs away from being there for themselves and their partner when they need it most."
Emotional affairs may be easier to slip into, but there are ways to prevent them
Talk to your partner. Discuss what you define as cheating and encourage each other to talk about how you are feeling and what you can do to connect more with one another.
"Couples are starting to take each other for granted, which makes both sides feel underrated in the relationship," said Kayce Hodos, professional advisor to Business Insider. “When someone else comes along and is willing to listen and invest their time, it can feel refreshing. Talk to your significant other if you feel a distance between you, because it will only get worse if you don't deal with it. "
Translated by Stefanie Kemmner
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