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What Is Emotional Cheating? Definition, Signs, Causes, How to Cope, and Everything Else

What Is Emotional Cheating? Definition, Signs, Causes, How to Cope, and Everything Else

Updated on Jul 13, 2022 | Published on Feb 03, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Emotional Cheating - Definition, Signs, Causes, How to Cope, and More

Do you feel your partner is emotionally cheating on you? Or do you feel it’s you?

Whoever may be the culprit, I feel torn up that you had to seek this subject in your life.

Emotional cheating is hard to identify and harder to get over… but don’t worry, you still have a chance to fix everything. I’ll walk you through the tough roads… just be with me till the end.

I prepared everything you possibly need to know about emotional cheating in this think-piece and hope you find your answers to a healthy relationship soon.

So, without any delay, let’s get down to it…

Emotional Cheating Infographics

Emotional cheating - Definition, and Signs
Emotional cheating – Definition, and Signs
Emotional cheating - How to get over & forgive it
Emotional cheating – How to get over & forgive it

What is Emotional Cheating?

Summary
Emotional cheating is when you emotionally bond more with someone outside your romantic relationship.

Emotional cheating or emotional infidelity is a deeper emotional bond with someone outside your primary relationship.

It happens when you or your partner seek emotional support too much from some particular person outside your relationship.

There is always some amount of intimacy involved when someone cheats emotionally

Most experts say that emotional cheating isn’t anything romantic and solely contains non-sexual intimacy.

However, whether your emotional cheating possesses any sexual tension, physical intimacy, or merely consists of emotional intimacy, depends on the type of relationship.

When you emotionally cheat with someone, you find sharing emotions easier with that person over your romantic partner.

Though it looks harmless because it only involves a deep emotional connection… it may impact your romantic relationship with your partner as time progresses.

You might overlook your partner’s emotional affair because you see a couple of close friendships, without any physical intimacy… and notice something is wrong only when you don’t observe any emotional investment in your relationship.

If you still can’t understand it, let’s me help you with some


Emotional cheating examples

There can be different incidents in your relationship that can pose as emotional cheating. However, you don’t catch up with them easily. So, let’s have a deeper look at a few instances…

Reminder: Any one of these examples doesn’t imply your partner is emotionally cheating. You need a combination of multiple examples.

1. Your partner allows the other person to know about things even you don’t have access to.

2. Your partner is not ready to handle your mood swings after a heated argument and instead runs to the other person.

3. Your partner behaves rudely towards you after bonding with the other person.

4. If you can’t spend time with your partner, they seek the other person for comfort.

5. With each passing day, your partner and the other person bond more frequently.

6. When you two have any issues, they talk with the other person instead of you.

7. Both of them exchange meaningful gifts.

8. They secretly hope you are like them.

9. They differentiate your and the other person’s emotional aptitude.

10. Your partner hides the texts between them and the other person from you.

11. They demand lesser physical or sexual intimacy.

12. They don’t connect with you after they meet this other person.

13. They talk about this other person passionately.

14. During sex, there’s no emotional bonding between you two.

15. They don’t turn to you for emotional problems.

16. They communicate less about their needs.

17. They don’t try to solve your relationship problems anymore.

18. Their relationship with the other person is like an escape from you.

19. They take your worries about the other person lightly.

20. They call and say endearing things to the other person like “sweetheart”, “baby”, “miss you”, etc.

21. They say you’re overthinking about the other person.

22. They overreact when you demand a deeper bond or ask them to set definite boundaries with the other person.

23. They go on lunch or dinner dates with the other person more than you because of work or some common interest.

24. They feel you don’t understand them, so they turn to the other person.

25. They show more gratitude to the other person than you.

If your partner says they’re just friends, check out the differences…


Emotional Cheating vs Friendship

Summary
Friendship is a healthy part of life that encourages your relationship. Emotional cheating gets in the way of your relationship.

Many people confuse emotional cheating with close friendships, but there’s a difference.

For instance, you have more strict boundaries in friendship than in romantic relationships.

Your commitment to your friends must adjust according to your romantic commitments, not the other way round.

Your friendships must support you to prioritize your committed relationship more than them. However, it doesn’t imply that your romantic partner mustn’t support your friendships.

In a normal friendship, you must support your romantic partner more than your friends.

However, when you’re emotionally cheating, you support the other person more than your romantic partner.

People who cheat emotionally under the umbrella of friendship overshare life deets with “friends” about their partner, don’t want their partner to know about their exchanges with “friends” …and sometimes, can’t even stand the thought of their partner having similar exchanges with someone else.

If your partner says they only share platonic intimacy, here’s what you need to know.


Emotional Cheating vs Platonic Intimacy

Summary
The intimacy you share with friends and family is platonic intimacy. It helps you enhance your romantic relationships too. However, in emotional cheating, you prioritize your friendships over a romantic relationship.

Platonic intimacy is the intimacy between friends despite gender. It is also an important sign of leading a healthy relationship.

In platonic friendships, you do share important facts about your relationship, your partner, or yourself… and might not share them with your partner.

However, platonic intimacy exists when your goal behind confiding in friends is boosting your romantic relationship.

On the other hand, emotional cheating occurs when you think your friends are better than your partner, so confiding in them and keeping your partner out of the loop is the best option.

The key differences are your reasons and the roles of the two relationships.

For instance, when something important happens in your life, if you share it with your partner before your friends… that’s great.

However, if this order is always reversed, it might be emotional cheating.

Lastly, if your partner discourages you from confiding in your friends, or you’re scared about your safety if you share some deets to them… it’s not cheating, it’s abuse.

However, emotional cheating isn’t exactly micro-cheating either. Let’s know how…


Emotional Cheating vs Micro-Cheating

Summary
Emotional cheating is a type of micro-cheating. Micro-cheating is when you walk on the boundaries but don’t cross them.

Emotional cheating isn’t exactly the same as micro-cheating, but both are equally hurtful to the partner.

In micro-cheating, you behave flirtatiously with an ex, or anybody that intrigues you emotionally, physically, sexually, or in some other terms.

Say you share inside dirty jokes your partner has no idea about, or use the excuse of a hug to feel them.

In other words, you nudge your relationship boundaries, yet don’t cross the line.

So, emotional cheating is a sub-category of micro-cheating, while micro-cheating itself includes different kinds of cheating.

Lastly, it’s no less damaging than physical cheating, but still different. Here’s how


Emotional Cheating vs Physical Cheating

Summary
In physical cheating, you also bond with the other person physically/sexually unlike emotional cheating. However, both inflict deep wounds on the cheated.

In emotional cheating, you might bond with someone, find them much more charming than your current partner, secretly wish they were yours, or even say it out loud.

In physical cheating, you cheat emotionally and have sex with the other person.

Most people overlook emotional cheating because of the lack of a sexual component.

However, they inflict deep wounds on their partner because of the stronger emotional attachment with the other person… which makes their actual partner feel inadequate.

Suppose you don’t want your partner to see your texts with a “friend” even if there’s nothing sexual, you’re emotionally cheating.

Emotional cheating threatens a relationship to the core. But you can save your relationship if you know some…


Emotional Cheating Signs – when it’s you

Two people make a relationship, so it can be either you or your partner emotionally cheating on the other.

Deny it all you want, but you don’t always recognize you’re cheating on your partner, emotionally.

That’s why let’s begin with yourself… Find out if you’ve hurt your partner now or in the past…

1. You crave the other person more

If you always look forward to the time when you can meet or talk with your friend about everything in your life, that’s great.

You still bond with the outside world and have a healthy relationship.

However, if you ditch your date night for an online game or to meet that other person, that’s a red flag for your relationship, and you have things to worry about.

2. Your “friend” is always in personal conversations

You return after meeting your friend, share how your day went to your partner, honestly and openly express yourself to them… must say your romantic bond is stronger than ever.

However, if your subject revolves around your friend only, that’s fishy.

In your defense, you spent an entire day with them so what more can you talk about?

Well, did you ask how your partner’s day was? Did you focus on their emotions? If not, you’re emotionally cheating.

3. Gifts aren’t friendly anymore

Friends exchange gifts for each other’s special celebrations, and that’s normal. 

However, if your gifts become more risqué and personal with time, that’s a bad sign.

Defend yourself all you want with “it’s a joke” after gifting lingerie, but you know you crossed the line.

4. Your “friend” can solve everything

Whenever you’re in a pinch, do you always seek your friend before your partner? Why?

They might solve things more rationally and efficiently if it’s a personal issue… but that’s because they aren’t a part of your personal life.

You might disregard your partner’s opinion on the issue because they are involved in it, and they provide emotional solutions rather than practical ones.

If you regularly avoid your partner and seek the friend to resolve issues, these are signs of an emotional affair.

5. You’re guilt-ridden

Self-awareness of emotional affairs starts with guilt. If you feel guilty about sharing too much with your friend, ignoring your partner, feeling happier with the friend, it’s a warning sign.

Perhaps, you feel bad that you’re spending more time with your friend and neglecting your partner.

When such feelings and doubts emerge from inside, it’s your subconscious mind signaling you that something’s wrong.

6. You find excuses to meet them

Do you honestly tell your partner when you go out with your friend? Or, do you keep it from them?

You hiding your meetings imply something immoral, and you know it… another red flag.

Perhaps, you meet your friend too often and find it doubtful yourself. You don’t want your partner to catch up on it, so you keep them in the dark.

7. Your romantic life drowned in arguments

Disagreements and fights are normal in healthy relationships because everyone can’t communicate calmly about their dissatisfaction.

However, if you always begin fights, insult them for their shortcomings, and approve almost nothing about them, these are signs of emotional cheating.

It implies you found perfection in someone else, are attached to them emotionally and find your partner’s actions faulty.

Emotional attachment with others isn’t necessarily bad as long as it doesn’t harm your personal life.

8. You hide your whereabouts

When you go out with your friend, do you let your partner know with whom you’re hanging out?

If not, then you feel guilty about doing something discreetly… that’s also a sign of emotional cheating.

9. Your partner comes second

In your life, who comes first? Your partner or this person?

Say, you’re emotionally attached to your parents to the point of ignoring all of your partner’s needs… and yes, you might emotionally cheat with your family too.

You think family comes first at all times, but what about this other person who depends on you solely?

If you’re married or have any intentions of marrying them, they’ll become your closest family. Of course, that doesn’t estrange your blood bonds.

10. You protect your devices too well

Do you allow your partner access to your devices or texts? If not, why? Is there something that can ruin your image of them?

Perhaps, you said something suggestive to someone like “I wish my partner was half as clever as you” or, “You understand me more than my partner does”.

If you have a reason involving your friend behind hiding your texts, then these are signs of emotional cheating.

11. You know they like you

Does this other person have a crush on you? They can, nothing wrong with that, but how did you face the situation after knowing that?

Did you tell them that you love your partner and won’t cheat on them? Or tell them that you guys won’t end together? At least, were you clear about being committed?

If you answered no, it’s because you relish their attention… that counts as emotional cheating too.

12. You don’t discuss them

Perhaps you never brought them up in front of your partner… but why? If they’re there in your life, why didn’t you share deets already?

Are you scared you’ll slip out some details that might hurt your relationship? Or, whatever you have in this friendship isn’t normal among friends?

There must be some reason you avoid talking about it, and that’s a sign of emotional infidelity.

13. There’s great sexual tension

Maybe, you and this friend or colleague have great chemistry. When you guys work/play together, you guys tease each other with non-physical sexual teasing.

You don’t mind it because it gets you going, and you didn’t really do anything offensive.

You stare at each other’s package, but all’s well as long as you don’t cross the line. If that’s on your mind, then that’s emotional cheating too.

14. Your partner isn’t sexy

Possibly, you can’t go wild in your bed at home because your partner seems too flawed.

Sex became very infrequent and you blame it on work pressure…. which is entirely a lie.

You don’t find your spouse/partner physically or emotionally intriguing and lose interest in them… another red flag.

15. You wish your partner were like them

Sometimes you wish your partner were a bit more like them. Perhaps your partner doesn’t understand your puns, doesn’t dress sexy, doesn’t have a chiseled body, or is too vanilla in bed.

However, this other person is fascinating in multiple ways. You don’t want to cheat on your partner though…because you’re loyal.

Rather reform your partner into the other person’s clone to love them again… another sign of emotional cheating.

16. You regret dating too early

Did you ever meet a person who made you regret committing so fast? If yes, then are you in contact with them?

If yes, then you still regret it, don’t you? However, you only know about their good sides. They didn’t possibly show their bad sides.

This sign of emotional cheating is quite hurtful to your partner though.

17. You daydream about them

Do you fantasize about this other person to the point of making mistakes in work or ignore what your partner told you?

Perhaps you relive every moment you spent with them and hoped something more would happen?

Or you simply see them a lot in your dreams. This again implies you’re emotional cheating.

18. No time for romance

You don’t have enough time for your partner because you need more time with the other person.

You skip date nights because you want to have drinks with the other person.

Or, you can’t engage in a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner because you’re exhausted after your tennis match with this friend.

You don’t have energy, time, or emotions to spend for your romantic partner as you’ve spent all on your best friend. This emotional cheating sign is hurtful to your partner too.

19. You overshare

Whenever you have problems in your relationship, you share even the most personal info about your partner/spouse with them.

You don’t have any boundaries when you share your personal life with this person.

For instance, you’ll hate it if your partner shared such intimate info about you with their friends or family.

If you cross the line when sharing info with this person, that’s another warning sign.

20. They’re your most-contacted-person

Whether your personal texts, calls, or social media activity, if the other person gets the most time from your phone, that’s fishy.

Of course, if you live with your partner, you won’t call/text them frequently… However, if you always contact only one person throughout the day, that’s worrisome.

Despite how close you guys are, why will you always contact them on all platforms? It implies that you can’t think beyond them in your life – another bad sign.

Didn’t find any similarities with yourself? Congratulations, you’re not the culprit!

Now let’s check if your partner did anything worrisome from the next set…


Emotional Cheating Signs – When it’s your Partner

No matter who does it – you or your partner, identifying emotional cheating is never easy. SO here are a few signs you will relate to if you feel emotionally cheated and the culprit is your partner.

1. They always hide the phone

Every time you’re around, if your partner suddenly locks their phone, changes the computer screen, deletes browsing history from common devices, these are signs your partner is emotionally cheating.

If a special date… birthday or anniversary is around the corner, your partner might be searching for something for you. However, it’s worrisome if it’s not.

2. They know too much about them

When your partner shares minute details about their friends, you have nothing to worry about.

But, do they randomly pull them in your conversations? Perhaps they relate your conversations with them… then that’s a bad sign.

It implies your partner always thinks of them and keeps them quite close to their heart.

3. You noticed obvious changes

Perhaps your partner wasn’t ever into fitness, but nowadays they’re caring for themselves.

They suddenly become conscious of their looks and try to look presentable all the time.

Well, if it’s for you, then good for you. However, if it’s more noticeable when they go out alone, and not for your date nights… You’re not worried for no reason.

4. They’re just friends

Whenever you confront your partner about how uncomfortable you feel about their friend, how do they react?

Cheating or not, they’ll say they’re friends… but the underlying emotions matter.

When they defend their case, do they show empathy towards you? Or hug you endearingly?

If they get defensive about the situation, your partner is suspicious.

5. They can’t catch up with work

If your partner cancels date nights or returns home late, it may be the work.

However, if the workload increased recently… Even though they didn’t get any promotion, there’s no news of getting one, or it isn’t that peak phase of excess work… that’s a bad sign.

They probably made excuses to hang out with that person.

6. Your opinions don’t matter

When you guys’ shop, how much does their shopping list depend on your choice? Your partner is their own person, they have the right to choose for themselves.

However, if they never give a second thought to your opinions, they don’t care about you… perhaps there’s someone else on their mind.

7. They frequently pick fights

Nobody is perfect, not me, not you, nor your partner. However, if your partner always brings up your flaws to insult you, they probably found someone better.

They discreetly wish you were as good as them and their frustrations result in frequent fights. If you find the fights meaningless or petty… you know the reason now.

8. Their carnal desires died

If they were once a feisty person in bed, but aren’t the same anymore… they might have some concerns about the relationship.

But when you tried to talk about it, there was nothing. 

They’re probably deeply involved emotionally, sexually, or both and don’t feel attracted towards you.

Or,

9. They’re really thirsty

If your partner is emotionally cheating, they want to take it to the next step with them, but can’t… they might suddenly become an animal in your bed.

In their mind, they want you to be that person and quench their thirst. This sign alone doesn’t count for cheating, you need a combination of a few more signs.

10. You’re out of the loop

Romantic partners must be each other’s first priority… in almost anything. If your partner always blabbered a lot but doesn’t anymore… something’s on.

It might be an issue with work, parents, or even friends. However, if they don’t have an answer, then their heart belongs to someone else.

11. They suddenly found new interests

If your partner found new outdoor hobbies that’s great news… but did you ever accompany them during their mini-hiking?

Did they dismiss your offer with lame excuses like “you won’t like it, hun, it’s not your type”?

If you’re in a long-term relationship and find your partner‘s sudden change of mind absurd, there might be some issue.

They’re probably having an emotional affair with someone else and lying to you about it.

12. You’re suddenly the green-eyed monster

If you’re usually not a jealous person and encourage your partner to spend time with friends, yet now you’re jealous… it’s not vague.

Your instincts say something’s off… but you can’t pinpoint it. Usually, when you have such feelings, don’t overlook them. Mostly, there are real reasons behind such feelings.

13. You overheard something suspicious

Did you overhear your partner mistakenly (or not) saying something suspicious? Say they said “I miss you babe” or “Can’t wait to catch up love”?

Perhaps you confronted them about it but that shocked them. They seemed tense when you entered the room, and even told you they were talking with their mother.

You felt the breach of trust but let them have the benefit of the doubt… but how many times? You know something’s clearly wrong.

14. They visit their parents a lot

Nowadays, do their partner’s parents fall sick a lot? They make frequent trips to their parents and you can’t help but worry about the situation.

When you offer to drop them at their parent’s place, they refuse with “No babe, you’re already on a tight schedule, I’ll go by myself”.

Or perhaps, you actually checked on their parents and found nothing wrong with them… furthermore, your partner didn’t visit them at all.

They lied and you have reasons to confront them further… It’s a bad sign.

15. They turn the tables on you

Whenever you bring up the issue at hand, your partner always blames you. They might blame you for being physically or emotionally unavailable when they need you.

They might even attack you for being in the way of socializing with others.

Remember that if it wasn’t a major issue, they wouldn’t react like that.

There is an underlying issue but they don’t want you to catch it so soon. Your partner is possibly cheating on you emotionally.

I understand your feelings about emotional cheating, and your questions, like…


Why emotional cheating happen?

There can be multiple reasons behind someone cheating emotionally.

Every person is unique with varied causes, and reasons. However, the chief reasons behind emotional cheating come down to these…

1. It’s intentional

Your partner wants it, they can’t stay loyal… They always want a thrill and something new in their life. They might think, “as long as I don’t get into their pants, it’s cool”.

2. They have weak boundaries

Mostly, people with bad boundaries don’t understand what’s inappropriate in friendships.

Your partner might bond with new people, find “something new” intriguing, and become addicted to the unknown emotions and feelings.

They don’t understand where they went wrong unless they damage their relationship irreversibly.

3. You’re the reason

If you can’t support them emotionally, are emotionally unavailable, or too busy… they might seek someone else for meeting their needs. Did you ever neglect their emotions or hurt them?

4. You two think differently

Possibly your partner defines emotional cheating differently from you. Your different opinions led to misunderstandings and your current situations.

Or they don’t see anything wrong in emotional attachment with others.

5. There’s no choice

If your partner by profession needs to know more people, understand their emotions deeper than their own… that might be a reason. They possibly do it for a living but didn’t notice that it hurt you.

If someone tells you that as long as your partner isn’t involved with someone else sexually, it’s fine… It’s not.

Here’s why.


How does emotional cheating impact relationships? (effects of emotional cheating)

Summary
In emotional cheating, you subconsciously move on from your partner and fantasize about a life with someone else, which implies your relationship suffers the most when you or your partner are involved in emotional cheating.

A healthy friendship must support you during trying times but never get in the way of your romantic relationship.

Many debate that emotional cheating isn’t as bad as physical cheating, but that’s a myth.

Emotional cheating can be far worse than a physical one because of your emotional investment in the other person. It might result in breakups and divorces equally.

You subconsciously wish your partner were them, feel unlucky to meet the other person so late. However, you have no idea about the dark side of this other person.

You fantasize about the other person without knowing them well and hurt your relationship permanently.

It damages your emotional bonds and investment with your romantic partner… then one fine day you question the validity of your relationship, stop supporting your partner, and secretly hope to leave them.

If you relate with some of the signs for yourself, read on….


What if you’re the one doing it? – 5 Ways to Cope

Whether you did it for friendly purposes only or had ulterior motives, you have your reasons, and you’re answerable to your partner.

Now, if you want to fix your relationship, then first…

1. Break it to them

If you’re sure you’re emotionally cheating on your partner and with whom, talk with this person. The other person might not even understand how you’re feeling unless you express it.

Don’t ghost them, instead share what’s on your mind. The other person might support your journey to a healthy relationship.

However, if they had something wrong on their mind, then there are more reasons to step back from it immediately.

2. Fizzle down the flames

Different emotional affairs start with varied things. Perhaps, you guys met on social media, shared common interests, or are work buddies… There was a reason behind the beginning of this deep emotional investment.

Whatever it was, you need to find your way out of it… stop messaging them, talk about nothing more than work, don’t contact them without reasons, stop going on outings or practicing your interests together.

If you must, involve a group of friends to keep your guard up.

3. Confess to your love

Guilt will consume your relationship if you don’t take the charge right now. Tell your partner what was on and what you’ll do to work on your mistakes.

Possibly, your partner already had some idea about the situation. If they’re considering a separation over this, your confession might change their mind. They might answer your sincerity with support.

Also, if you keep it to yourself, you’ll never break through your emotional fling.

4. Own it up

Remember, it’s a confession, so don’t redirect the conversation into your partner’s mistake. It was your idea, so hold all responsibilities to your situation.

It will be hard to say that you were attracted to someone else to your partner. Despite how uncomfortable it feels, never blame them, else your efforts will go to vain.

If you feel it’s their fault, you had the option to communicate your needs but didn’t… so it is your responsibility.

5. Prepare for extreme reactions

Your partner will brush off any conversations if they’re emotionally unavailable. However, if they had no idea about it, your confession might shock them.

They might yell, scream, cry, or may even dismiss you immediately. Despite the painful situation now, you’ll lead a healthier relationship later.

So, don’t feel afraid to open your heart to them… after all, they’re your soulmate.

On the flip side, learn the next steps from…


What if your partner is the one doing it? – 5 Ways to Cope

If you relate some signs of emotional cheating with your partner, you must be heartbroken. But now the question is: how will you cope?

Don’t blow it up, not yet… take your time to talk to them.

1. Start a well-timed intimate conversation

Choose a suitable time when your partner isn’t in a bad mood because of sickness, work, or other personal reasons. You don’t want external factors to impact your conversation.

When you choose the wrong time, you’ll eventually push your conversation back to later. This will further discourage you from beginning the conversation again.

Talk to your partner when they’re having a good time. Pull them close to you to imply that this conversation is important for your relationship.

2. Emphasize on hurtful actions

Don’t ask questions, don’t blame… don’t say “Who do you spend time with after work?” or, “I know you’re cheating on me”.

If you begin your conversation with these, you’ll ruin everything before you start.

Instead, bring up exact actions that hurt you. Say “I know you’re good friends with XYZ… but I feel hurt when you spend so much time without me”

Or

“I crave you a lot these days, can we spare some more time for each other?”

You’ll change the way they fathom your thoughts… with wise usage of words.

3. Don’t play detective

Possibly, you’re right on point, they cheated on you… emotionally. However, despite the situation, don’t investigate them or their devices behind their back.

The reason? You might hurt yourself for worse, unilaterally break the relationship, without even knowing their share of the story.

Also, if you’re wrong, you’ll feel tremendous guilt for your actions. Furthermore, if they find out about your detective activity, you’ll damage your relationship for good.

4. Stick to inductive reasoning

Give them a chance to come clean. Perhaps they’ll give good reasons behind their actions. You can ascertain if they’re truthful with their body language.

If they’re really ashamed, they’ll break down while confessing to you the truth.

However, if they’re trying to put the blame on you, their body and eyeballs will blow it for you. They’ll avoid making eye contact.

You’ll know if they’re honest and truly regretful with their behavior.

5. Work like a team

If they come clean and want to work things out, begin fresh, that’s great. It’s time to figure out what went wrong in the beginning.

Find out their reason to find someone else to confide in their feelings. Did you come short in any way? Do they have difficulties staying loyal?

Do they not understand what’s emotional cheating, or hold a different meaning?

Once you figure out such details, find out how to overcome your situation. Seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment if it’s a mental health concern.

Perhaps neither of you cheated emotionally yet… But after being through this think piece, you might want to strike up a discussion with your partner, so let’s learn…


How to talk about it with your partner?

Emotional cheating isn’t easy to figure out… also different people have different values so it’s hard to understand what’s going on.

You might feel your partner emotionally cheated on you, while your partner might not have the slightest idea of this conversation.

You might be an emotional cheater, and have no idea where everything went wrong. Review your relationship with your partner to ensure you’re in a healthy relationship.

Plan the conversation properly with these steps…

1. Share the source

If you found enough help from this site (which I hope you did), share the link with your partner and ask them to give it a read.

Once they’re done, they’ll have a gist of your conversation and know what’s about to happen next. Now ask them how they feel about emotional cheating… do they feel it’s real or do they feel it’s just a fancy term?

Exchange your thoughts on emotional cheating with each other. This can help you both steer-clear of the doubts about your relationship with the bonus of understanding each other better.

2. Find out if they were a victim

Whether your partner had prior relationships or you’re their first romantic partner, ask if they ever felt you emotionally cheated on them.

Know if they can relate to any situation in this article with their life.

Perhaps, at some point, they felt jealous of your colleague in a certain project. You returned home quite late, that hurt them, but they kept quiet because it was work.

This is the moment you must find out if you hurt them intentionally or unintentionally. Also, take notes to avoid any such possibilities in the future.

3. Discuss about your past

Next is your chance to share your life moments. But, before that, seek their consent, know if they’re equally interested in your stories.

This will make them feel special, and they’ll also be curious.

Take this moment to share if your partner or anybody else cheated on you emotionally. Let them in on some secrets about your relationship.

Say, you always felt uncomfortable about your partner’s childhood friend… felt jealous how they know your partner for so long and you wish to know them equally.

4. Define your own signs

You two might not agree with this think-piece completely, and that’s fine. If you guys consider something else as signs of emotional cheating, jot them down.

Don’t take it too seriously, rather treat it as a game. Each of you take colorful post-its and build an attractive chart of signs.

Meanwhile, you can also negotiate some signs if it’s unavoidable.

If your partner works from home, they have to stay in contact for a long duration with their work-mates. Or if they deal with clients directly, they can’t refuse dinner with clients.

5. Set boundaries with books

To define boundaries and build faith in each other, understand the essence of true love from some great books about healthy romantic relationships.

For instance, Krystal Mazzola’s The Codependency Recovery, Linda Carroll’s Love Skills, Tammy Nelson’s The New Monogamy, or Alexandra Solomon’s Loving Bravely.

All of these can help you find a healthy way to love wholeheartedly and minimize any scope of misunderstandings or emotional cheating in your relationship.

If you’re serious about your relationship, build some…


Emotional cheating boundaries

Want to set boundaries to avoid emotional cheating? Well, it’s not as easy as said to save a relationship.

But your relationship is worth the effort. I’ll show you how to set proper emotional cheating boundaries with some small steps… 

1. Begin an honest discussion

Don’t beat around the bush, you know something’s wrong, and you gotta fix that soon to save your relationship.

Go one step at a time, share what each of you finds hurtful or don’t want your partner to share with others. Each of you must share your definition for breach of trust.

Take time and never dismiss your partner’s thoughts.

2. Write down what’s not cool

Both of you grab a paper and make lists of what you don’t want in your relationship. Romantic relationships are forever promises, so you guys possibly have a lot to say.

Make lists rather than verbally asking them, else you both have the scope of forgetting the demands. Also, when you speak, there’s a high chance you may get into arguments.

You can never take back your words, so writing helps prevent irreversible damage to your relationship.

3. Exchange your lists

Once you’re done, exchange your lists of what counts as emotional cheating in your relationship. However, you both are unique, and won’t have equal thoughts about everything.

You might not understand your partner’s definition of infidelity instantly, so take your time understanding the list well. Don’t just read the lines, read their emotions behind them.

You both wrote something that hurt you in the past. So most probably, the list defines how you hurt them in the past.

4. Don’t fight

Your first instinct when you find a long list of “restrictions” is fighting. You’ll rebel like an adolescent teenager because “why must their parents ground them for having fun?”

Well, you may hurt your partner or vice versa… now that you began the conversation, it must be fair and square.

Deal with this situation with maturity, fighting won’t get you your desired results.

5. Negotiate with an honest mind

You don’t need to follow what each of you demands blindly, rather negotiate if you think something is unjust.

When you negotiate, don’t use any tricks to continue emotionally cheating. Be honest with yourself because it’s your last chance to make things right in your relationship.

If either of you still can’t get over the other person, they’ll obviously try to bargain with the other person in mind. Don’t settle for this…

If you already cheated on your partner emotionally, and want to save your relationship, here’s how you can do it.


How to get over emotional cheating?

If you emotionally cheated, you still have some lingering feelings about that other person. Don’t tell your partner that you will forget about the person overnight, that’s not possible.

So, make it count with a proper plan. First…

1. Confront yourself honestly

Do you admit that you did something wrong? It’s high time you stop playing innocent. You did more than just engage in a friendly chat… perhaps you didn’t want it, but it is what it is.

You began everything… So, what did you seek in the person? Was it a new experience? Or something your partner can’t provide you?

Or, did you just want some quick fun from your daily life? The sooner you find your reasons to emotionally cheat on your partner, the quicker you find your solutions.

2. Put a stop to this affair

That person was super cool, they were your best friend, and you might not get someone like that ever again… noted. However, who’s more important? Them or your partner? Hopefully your partner.

It’s high time you stop contacting or meeting them. Tell them what’s up if you must, but don’t allow them to manipulate your emotions again.

Define strict boundaries to continue a healthier life. However, if they’re in your social circle, don’t give excuses and block their contact.

3. Replace them

You will miss that person… After all, emotional cheating is worse than physical cheating for a reason. You’ll want to unblock them, text like old times, or even want to run back to them.

But your partner has no idea about that… if you want to keep your current relationship thriving, divert your mind with something new. Invest in a new hobby… and also include your partner in it.

When your mind stays occupied with something, you’ll have less time to spare or think about your partner. Slowly, you’ll replace your friend’s thoughts with something better.

4. Admit your mistakes

Since you were wrong, it’s time you come clean to your partner. Keeping your partner in the dark is a bad idea. So, instead confess your heart out.

The longer you keep the secrets, the higher your chances of committing another mistake. And let’s not forget, your partner is a human too, you’ll hurt them with this news.

They won’t take it too positively either, so stay beside them to cope with the shock. Don’t leave them because “they don’t need to see your face while hurt” that’s a bad move.

5. Discuss with your partner

Once your partner is over it, discuss the what, why, when, and how. They’ll have loads of questions about this entire scenario, so be honest while you still have time.

Your partner loves you, but don’t think they’ll overlook everything for that. They have the right to know everything, don’t sugar-coat or blame them during the process.

6. Understand your body

Get this fact straight: the other person wasn’t someone “great” and your partner isn’t “trash”. Your brain chemicals riled you up when you met them.

Possibly, you didn’t notice the worst side of that person and judged your partner for lame reasons.

Felt you’ll live a fairy-tale if you dumped your partner and eloped with them? Tough luck, it’s all in your brain, snap out of it.

7. Reconstruct your foundations

Many poets compared trust with glass… once broken, you can’t stick it back together. So, focus on building it from scratch.

Ask what your partner demands, do they need you to return as soon as you finish work? Or, call them every hour or so? Or check your phone regularly?

Your partner will unfortunately become paranoid about the situation. Deal with your ruins because it’s your responsibility. Take some pain now if you care about your relationship.

8. Seek a Marriage counselor

If you think your partner went overboard with insults, blames, and abuse, don’t dump them. Time to take the situation to the next step – counseling.

Seek a couples’ therapist to help your partner cope with the situation. Your partner will understand what’s wrong with them and make efforts to find a common ground.

This is your last bet, hope your partner is willing to undergo therapy to save your relationship.

9. Practice healthy relationship rules

Repent for your breach of trust with some rules like kissing your partner/spouse to greet them or expressing your love more often.

Or, you can also create some thoughtful gifts for them. Help them in the kitchen, or accompany them during gardening. Help then tend to their daily pressure and show them that you care.

You can also plan dinner dates whenever you get a chance. Your aim: Prove that they’re the center of your world now. Prove you’ll be a better person.

10. Prepare for a separation

Though pessimism isn’t a solution, prepare yourself for a breakup/divorce. Whatever you did may not be acceptable for your partner.

Some things unfortunately aren’t meant to be… perhaps your relationship was the same. If they don’t stay back, cry your heart out, seek help from friends and family, but don’t forget you were wrong.

Never paint them black in other’s views… and hopefully, you won’t return to the other person, else you’ll find your way back to your misery.

But if you were the victim, you definitely would want to know…


How to forgive emotional cheating?

You’ll have a hard time dealing with yourself or controlling overflowing emotions if your lover cheats on you in any way. It hurts, but you gotta fight through it. 

Come along with me, and I’ll show you how to forgive them for cheating, and yourself for not catching up…

1. Learn the affair status

Ask them the when, where, how about the emotional cheating. Don’t keep quiet, know everything you need.

Learn who it was, what were their reasons, compare your definitions of emotional cheating. Even though it’ll hurt, ask exactly what happened in this affair.

When did they meet? What kind of excuses did they make to fool you?

If you really want to forgive them, these deets can help you brace for the next time. Sounds cruel? Well, it is.

2. Communicate calmly

Though you feel a raging storm inside you, every last sanity crumbling down… bear it a bit longer. Don’t let out the storm yet because you have more work to do.

Your emotions can take over the situation and leave you at a greater loss.

Talk to your partner without extreme emotions, share how you feel about the situation without insulting them. They must understand where and how badly they went wrong.

3. Dig into the causes

If you blame yourself for their affair, STOP… your partner is responsible for their choices. You were always there beside them. However, they chose against sharing their needs with you.

Learn why they did so… do they find you unapproachable? Was it accidental or intentional? Learn the reason to mitigate small significant issues in your relationship.

To really forgive them and continue your relationship, identify your partner’s needs and habits. Perhaps they overshare with others, so you both need to set strong boundaries.

4. Don’t forgive too quickly

Your partner might cry, howl, bawl their eyes out, or even kneel down to seek your forgiveness. You’ll feel bad about it… and decide to forgive them. Well, don’t give in… if you want to make things right.

If your partner really regrets their actions, that’s a good sign… however, forgiving too quickly will decrease your value in their life.

Forgive too early and they’ll understand it wasn’t a big deal. As long as you don’t forgive them from your heart, don’t tell them that you did.

5. Get some space

While your head is full of thoughts about your partner’s emotional cheating, take some space away from them.

If you see your perpetrator in front of you throughout the day, you can’t figure out what you want from your relationship.

For instance, go on a vacation alone, try adventurous sports all by yourself. Remind yourself that you are amazing and complete without them.

Boost your confidence with some activities.

6. Visit your parents or BFFs

If you have other loved ones around you, seek their advice. Share your issue with them.

Perhaps, visit your parents or siblings, share your thoughts to gain some insights from their POV.

Or, crash at your friend’s place, get some booze, and talk your heart out to them.  

Medically reviewed papers state that loved ones’ support can help minimize mental stress from traumatic experiences.

7. Shed some tears

You bravely dealt with your partner, and I’m proud of you. Give yourself some time to shed your tears.

Your partner cheated on you, and it definitely wasn’t the best feeling… so let out all the emotions.

However, do it with a friend or family member if you need somebody, avoid doing it in front of your partner, and also, avoid public places.

Don’t restrict your emotions for too long, else you might burst out in front of your partner.

8. Confide in a journal

If talking to loved ones or expressing your emotions doesn’t work, the next step is to journal. Write down the feelings if you can’t express them verbally.

When you write them, it will feel even worse, because you’ll feel the emotions a few folds stronger. Don’t skip this step because you don’t want to cry again.

You need to let the negativity out of your system, and go to extreme lengths for that.

9. Plan your next step

Until this point, hopefully, you know what you need. Do you think you can continue your marriage? Is forgiving still an option?

If not, then prepare yourself for a separation. Don’t stay back in a relationship with negative feelings and torture yourself.

If yes, then consider ways to bond once again. Spend more time with them, know them from scratch, go out on dates. Define your new normal relationship with some boundaries.

10. Try out therapy

Seek a marriage counselor or a couples’ therapist to work out your feelings.

Learn healthy ways to deal with conflicting feelings, brimming emotions, and frequent urges to fight with your partner.

Your counselor can provide you with unbiased suggestions to improve your relationship. Though you’ll learn to forgive, forgetting isn’t an option.

Take your time healing yourself, don’t hurry the process.

Your mind is possibly all over the place with lots of questions… find more information here…


FAQs about emotional cheating

Emotional cheating isn’t an easy topic… What counts and what doesn’t as emotional cheating depends from person to person.

However, there are some definite answers to a few questions like…

1. Is texting someone else emotional cheating?

Any kind of communication – texting, emailing, sending letters, talking, etc. – doesn’t define cheating. To cheat, you need some kind of emotional or sexual intimacy that you may choose to hide from your partner.

It’s cheating when you violate your partner’s trust or step over the boundaries of your relationship.

2. Is flirting with someone else emotional cheating?

Whether flirting is cheating or not depends on the context, aim, and result.
For instance, if you or your partner flirts with others to spice your romantic relationship, it’s not cheating.

However, if they use flirting to hurt, threaten, or distance you both emotionally or physically, that’s cheating.

If you flirt with hidden motives due to some unrecognized desires, it isn’t cheating, but can lead to it.

Also, if your flirting includes acknowledging the other person’s strengths… while you stay within your boundaries… that’s healthy flirting.

Talk to your partner if they’re flirting impacts you negatively.

3. If there’s no physical contact, how is it still cheating?

When there’s no physical or sexual contact, your brain fantasizes more about the person in a sexual manner.

If you feel emotionally close, you’ll eventually crave physical intimacy and fantasize about it.

Also, when you don’t interact with someone like your partner, but find them emotionally compatible within the little time you spent… you just feel happy around them.

You never got a chance to entirely know them, and romanticize them from afar.
You find them more intriguing than your partner and your heart refuses to limit itself in your current relationship… which defines cheating.

4. Does this mean I can’t have close emotional connections with others?

For a healthy lifestyle, whether you’re single or committed, you need emotional connections, so NO.

Your partner won’t satisfy you emotionally in all possible ways, so you need outside non-romantic relationships.

Connect with relationships outside your romantic life, however, it mustn’t cause roadblocks in your romantic relationship.

Rather, your outside relationships must encourage you to keep progressing in your romantic relationship.

5. Is it a sign to open the relationship or consider other dynamics?

If you’re in love with both your partner and the outside person, be honest about your feelings for both, and have some interest in non-monogamy… time to talk to your partner.

Your partner might not agree, but you’ll at least have a clear vision about your next step in life.

For instance, if you think that you can’t continue a monogamous life, but your partner insists on monogamy… part your ways.

It’s a hard choice because you love them, but you can’t keep them in an unhappy relationship. Your partner is a human being, and has their expectations from a relationship too… so set them free.

6. How does social media contribute to emotional cheating?

Social media helps you to roll your guards down and often lead to emotional cheating without your awareness.

When you find someone interesting online with common interests, you begin to like and comment on each other’s posts. Next, you share interesting posts with each other… with time you find yourself messaging them more often than required.

Social media also helps to connect with old flames… nothing wrong with that… However, regular contact with old flames can rekindle old feelings.

Moreover, if your current relationship doesn’t offer you that kind of excitement, you’ll lean more towards emotional cheating.

7. Can emotional cheating lead to physical ones?

If you don’t maintain proper boundaries between yourself and the other person, your emotional cheating can lead to physical cheating.

When you catch feelings, you’ll become more passionate about them, leading to a secret infatuation… which can always spiral down to physical cheating.

8. How do people define emotional cheating?

Different people define or think about emotional cheating differently. For instance, it’s emotional cheating if you…

– Lie about your intimacy with the other person
– Complain about private matters in your romantic relationship to the other person
– Share important deets with them before your partner
– Exchange crude texts for attention
– Use your partner as a replacement for them
– Hide or delete texts and calls
– Prioritize them over your partner
– Conceal the reality with just friends tag
– Be infatuated with someone else
– Have a work spouse

9. When it comes to affairs, how do different genders react?

Mostly, women don’t cheat in a happy fulfilling relationship.

However, men compare their romantic relationship with the outside relationship… they bond outside their relationship emotionally or physically when they find the other person more interesting.  

Also, women step back from emotional cheating as soon as they start catching up subtle hints. Men, on the other hand, realize only after they dive deep into emotional cheating.

10. Which gender has more emotional affairs?

In older times, women engaged in emotional affairs more than men… and comparatively men engaged in sexual ones more.

However, with changing times, the tables turned… from Shirley Glass research, more than 8 out of 10 women cheated sexually with emotional attachment, and more than 5 out of 10 men cheated sexually.

Depending on the person, some sexually cheat from the beginning with or without emotions. These affairs aren’t usually stable either. However, sexual or not, cheating damages relationships.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Whether you cheated emotionally or were cheated on, it’s heartbreaking. Emotional cheating damages your relationship way more than physical cheating which you already know by now. 

Also, you might meet people who’ll say “it’s all in your head”, or “it wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Well, guess what, it wasn’t because it felt even worse than they can imagine. 

It’s your life and relationship, don’t allow others to rule it.

Also, communicate more with your partner… remove any scope of misunderstandings or distancing. When you don’t bond with each other, one of your hearts might lose its way. 

Talk more and save your relationship, hope your love becomes stronger than ever.