What’s the Big Deal About Emotional Cheating?

Relationship counselors have a few words for wives and husbands who are engaged in emotional cheating: Knock it off. Go cold turkey. Put down the extramarital relationship and back far, far away.
What’s the harm in a friendship you’re hiding from your spouse when you are not having sex with the other man? Here’s the answer: If the extramarital friendship is a secret, you are lying to your spouse.
Most people have a much harder time getting over the deception than they would recovering from sexual infidelity. Destroying trust is the core of the damage you do to your marriage when you have long, intimate talks with your co-worker, when you flirt with your Facebook buddy or when you keep emailing your ex-boyfriend.
If you are enjoying an extramarital friendship that you think is innocent and completely harmless, it may be time to ask yourself some questions. Does your family even know about the relationship? Are you working hard to keep it a total secret?
If you engage in complicated maneuvers to spend time in this person’s company, you should start to reconsider. If you discuss issues with your friend that you’re not discussing with your husband, you should think twice. If you’re doing things with him that you’re not doing with your husband, think more than twice. These are signs that your harmless friendship is an emotional affair.
Again, we’re not talking about sex here. If you are switching your time and attention to someone else, that’s an emotional affair.
But beautiful friendships have a way of escalating from platonic to sexual. What starts with shared interests moves into emails that grow more frequent. Sharing work issues through emails moves into discussing them over lunch. Lunch slides easily into drinks after work.
While the relationship is still innocent and long before you decide to get a room, you tell yourself there’s no harm in this type of friendship. You would never have sex outside your committed relationship. But you are becoming emotionally entangled, and that is the lie. When you remove your physical and emotional energy from your spouse, the deception can destroy your marriage.
Spouses have an uncanny radar when it comes to feeling neglected. When your husband finds out that you’ve veered off into a strong emotional connection with another man, the discovery can be devastating. He will doubt anything and everything about the life you’ve built together. If your emotional affair has deepened to include sex with another man, the pain for your husband will be magnified and the consequences even more destructive.
If you are in the throes of an emotional affair, experts recommend against confessing to your husband. They advise you to stop the emotional cheating immediately, disengage and let your friend’s calls and emails go unanswered for longer and longer stretches of time.
Renew your emotional commitment to your spouse. Put your emotional energy, time and attention back into your marriage and rebuild those bonds.

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