How to Find Out If Your Partner Is Emotionally Cheating on You
Recently at a family gathering, some gossip about a distant cousin made me think about emotional affairs. When we hear words such as “cheating” or “infidelity” our minds more often than not think of sexual encounters or affairs, outside of marriage, but emotional infidelity in marriages are definitely on the upswing.
Emotional infidelity can be seen when a married person becomes intimate – maybe not sexually – but in their feelings and thoughts with another person. They are investing their time, their deepest and most personal thoughts and their emotional energy in this one other person outside the marriage.
The emotional intimacy in this relationship will be very excessive and intense, unlike that in a regular platonic relationship. And usually, because of the high level of emotional investment in this other person, their spouse may find their emotional connect to be weakened or lacking.
A feeling of alienation and loneliness may creep in as well. A feeling of inferiority to the so-called friend may also arise in the neglected spouse – and hence emotional affairs can really create havoc. No one wants to feel lonely and like the third wheel in their own marriage.
Sometimes this kind of infidelity isn’t thought out or intended. For some- it’s an escape from a rocky marriage, a spouse who doesn’t care enough or listen to them. For some it’s a result of spending more time with a colleague at work. A person may already be in the middle of this when they realize what’s happening.
In most cases, an emotional affair begins with a friendship but then usually turns into a deep emotional connect or flirtations. Though sex may not be a part of the relationship, there should be boundaries in a friendship as well. When friendship infringes upon the intimacy between a married couple, there is bound to be some trouble and friction.
Although deep emotional intimacy might look different from person to person here are some common signs that might help you identify an emotional affair.
1. A feeling of being ignored: You suddenly feel like you’re watching your spouse’s life from the sidelines rather than being an important part of it. You feel that indifference has set in and that they’re largely disinterested in you. It could be that they don’t share their thoughts or feelings as much with you as they did before. Or you may also just feel not needed. When an emotional affair is taking place, emotional needs are anyway being met from elsewhere so it’s possible for this feeling to creep in.
2. They’re suddenly too busy: Some weeks and even months are busier than the rest, but when you start to feel like your spouse is always too busy for you or that they’re inventing excuses to be away from home, something might be off.
3. Too much information is shared with this friend: We all talk with our friends about our troubles and happiness, be it work related or more personal, but there are always boundaries to be maintained. If our spouse is sharing too much with a particular friend it definitely hints at a emotional investment.
4. Sudden changes are being made: Weight loss, and a sudden motivation to work out or eat healthy, change in wardrobe and hairstyles, spending more time grooming oneself, picking up a hobby in which they showed no interest before – are all small and subtle signs that they may be thinking of someone else and looking to impress them. While personality development and growth is always an admirable trait, it’s important to see what is motivating this change all of a sudden.
What is or what is not – grounds for divorce though in a marriage is a highly personal and subjective issue. Some may consider a one night stand unforgivable, while some may be able to ignore sexual cheating but are unable to look past their spouse being emotionally involved with another. What’s important is to be committed and attentive to and towards each other.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)
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