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Affairs are a no-go for anyone interesting in keeping their relationship alive, but emotional affairs are especially destructive. Keep reading to find out why.
For most people–male or female–cheating is the ultimate sign of disrespect and immediate grounds for termination of a relationship. And rightly so. When you cheat on your partner you breach the sacred trust that’s been built within your romantic relationship. Trust is not easy to build or easily given. It accumulates only after each party has repeatedly proven themselves as being honest and reliable.
Cheating basically says that you do not value your relationship or that time that’s been invested into it. However, all cheating does not pack the same punch. Sure, you would definitely feel heartbroken if you found out that your partner had been engaged in a physical affair behind your back. Anyone would.
Aside from the obvious health risks, you would probably feel betrayed, and wonder why you alone weren’t enough to satisfy them.
However, I’d argue that finding that your partner had been engaged in an emotional affair would be way worse. Physical affairs deal with the body, while emotional affairs deal with the heart. Read on to find out why that’s way more damaging.
Emotional affairs occur when a person steps outside of their relationship to fulfill their emotional needs. Instead of leaning on their partner for this support, they look to a close friend, coworker or even a stranger.
It’s not usually something that someone seeks out. It develops naturally. Someone might be feeling neglected or lonely, so they will naturally gravitate towards someone who will give them attention.
At first, they might bond over their shared interests or hobbies. This prompts phone calls and text messages at all hours of the day. Over time, they might even develop their own language when communication of share inside jokes.
Then one day, they realize that they’ve confessed their deepest, darkest to this person, things that even their SO have never been privy to. In times of distress, they’d rather vent to this outsider, than their partner. They’ve become completely encapsulated by their presence.
Likewise, they’ve become so addicted to the way being with this person makes them feel, that being with their partner just doesn’t measure up anymore.
No one wants to be cheated on, obviously, but a one-time fling could be written off as a temporary lapse of judgment or a moment of weakness. Emotional affairs imply intent.
It’s not possible to accidentally fall in love with someone the same way that you could get drunk, and “accidentally” have sex with someone you met at a bar.
Emotional bonds are developed over time, in stages. You might not realize that you’re swimming in dangerous territory at first, but as an emotional affair progresses, it’s impossible to deny what is happening.
Just as you knew when things changed between you and your SO, you can feel the shift, as you and the third party transition from friends to emotional lovers.
Engaging in an emotional affair says that, despite your conscience telling you that you’re probably getting too attached, you’d rather satisfy your own emotional needs, then think of your partner’s. So, you willingly decided to plow ahead and develop a secondary relationship.
It may seem like this is not a big deal, but it definitely is.
Emotional affairs are driven not by lust, but by feelings and emotions.
The affection that used to be reserved for your partner is now being given to this new person. As such, you’re now allowing this third party to fulfill a role in your life that should have been regulated only to your partner.
You’re funneling the energy, love, and attention that could have gone to your SO, away from the relationship and into this third person.
If you’re engaging in an emotional affair, then it’s safe to say that there are underlying problems within your relationship.
If you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, your partner should be the main source of your emotional satisfaction. He or she should be the person that you go to when you’re happy, sad or just need extra support.
The fact that you’re seeking this from an outsider means that you’ve probably become somewhat detached from your SO.
Relationships are hard work to build, and even harder to maintain. Sometimes, the person that you should be clinging to is the last person that you actually want to speak to.
This opens the door for you to seek out someone else. That also means that whatever issues in your relationship that led to your affair, are not being addressed. Why should you bother to fix your current relationship when you can just get your fix elsewhere?
Not only is it unfair to your partner, it’s also unfair to you. If you haven’t left the relationship, there’s obviously some form of affection left. By placing your emotional needs on someone outside of your relationship, you’re essentially setting your relationship up to fail because you’re not putting in any effort to sustain it.
Emotional affairs may not involve kissing or sex, but there’s just as much lying and deceit involved. They’re basically breeding grounds for dishonesty.
No one who’s invested in their relationship would be okay with their SO bonding, sharing intimate secrets and developing a rapport with someone else. If you’re doing this, it’s highly likely that you’re keeping your SO in the dark about it.
It’s definitely possible that they haven’t noticed the signs, but it’s even more likely that you’re downplaying that person’s role in your life to your partner. You’ve probably lied and said that they don’t matter when they obviously do. It’s also possible that your partner confronted you about your relationship, and you agreed to cut ties, but haven’t.
If you’ve been the victim of emotional cheating then you already know that it opens wounds that aren’t easily closed. They drive a wedge between you and the person you’re supposed to be committed to.
Similarly, if you’re engaging in an emotional affair, you may be trying to convince yourself that it’s harmless because no sex is involved. It’s not. Emotional affairs are incredibly destructive, even more than physical ones and if you keep it up, you may not have a relationship for very long.
If you want to salvage your relationship, you should do the right thing. Cut off the third-party, be honest with your partner, promise them that the affair is over and hope that they can forgive you.
If you’re not interested in saving your relationship, then break things off with your partner. But don’t continue to keep them in limbo. It’s unfair to everyone involved.
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Kendi is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. When she's not writing, she's probably singing, reading or binge-watching romantic comedies on Netflix.
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