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What exactly constitutes an emotional affair?

Emotional affairs have become a relatively new phenomenon with the surge in recent years of the Internet. The Internet provides a means for an individual to communicate and get to know people that might be a considerable distance away.

In this way emotional affairs differ from traditional affairs as emotional affairs can take place with someone they may never have even met and be some distance away.

As a result, a lot of people don't class emotional affairs as real affairs. Physical contact and/or sex haven’t taken place and so they feel it's relatively acceptable. However, emotional affairs can still have adverse effects on the health of your relationship.

What defines emotional affairs?

Emotional affairs can range from:

  • Intimately texting someone
  • Emailing intimate thoughts
  • Swapping photos and details via websites such as dating sites etc.
  • Some people also consider viewing pornography to be in the emotional affairs category.

While some see emotional affairs as not being real affairs, others class both as being the same as they involve the same behavioral actions and both can lead to the destruction of the relationship.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that emotional affairs aren't really a issue. However the true problem lies in the fact that emotional affairs can in time lead to full on physical affairs.

This may not happen with the person they had the initial emotional affair with but someone subsequent to them. This is why emotional affairs must be dealt with when they occur and help sought accordingly.

What are the signs and symptoms of emotional affairs?

The following are indicators of emotional affairs. Almost all of them also apply to traditional affairs. If you spot some of these signs, you know you have a problem and need to open communication with your other half about the situation so a solution can be found.

  • Person spends unusual amounts of time online
  • Person becomes secretive about their computer use
  • Reduced or non-existent sex
  • Person has lost interest in your family and common friends
  • Person is starting to regularly criticize your appearance
  • Person remains on computer at night when you've gone to bed
  • Person secures the computer with passwords unknown to you

How to handle emotional affairs

The best way to combat emotional affairs is to talk about them. This way you can tease out what's causing the person to seek attention and affection from someone else.

Express your feelings about their behavior, including your own insecurities and worries. A loving partner will respond to your thoughts and try and discuss things so you both better understand what's happening. If you are the one having the emotional affair, asking yourself the question:

“Would I be ok if my partner was doing what I’m doing?"

should reveal that you know there’s a problem. Emotional affairs are never a good idea if you want your relationship to succeed. The reality is that if you're hiding it, it means you know it's not acceptable.

Need more help?

Yes, is my boyfriend cheating on me?

What does the high rate of marriage infidelity tell us about human nature?

How do I restructure my relationship after emotional infidelity has occured?

How can I employ the power of forgiveness in my life?

What do hidden messages have to do with overcoming insecurity?