An emotional affair can be very difficult to recover from – for both parties. The individual involved in the emotional affair could feel a sense of loss when they no longer have contact with the other person, and their spouse will feel cheated and upset. It can be difficult for both parties to move on from an emotional affair, especially as it can be difficult to draw the line as to what is and what isn’t appropriate contact.
Redirect Your Negative Feelings into Action
Feeling shameful about engaging in an emotional affair is useless. Feeling guilty about talking to someone else and constantly beating yourself up about it and flitting between feeling guilty and feeling on edge when you can’t talk to the other person are all emotions that serve absolutely no sense of purpose. They won’t help you to recover from the affair – so redirect the energy used to feel shameful and turn it into action.
Decide that you are going to end the affair and decide that you are going to change your life. You will have moments when you feel guilty – or if you are the spouse that has been cheated on, you’ll have moments when you feel like you cannot continue with the relationship. But remind yourself that you have decided to change your life – stop those negative thoughts in their tracks.
Replace the Relationship with Something Else
The individual who had the affair will feel a deep sense of loss when they end their emotional affair. They may have confided all of their innermost thoughts and feelings in the other person and they may think that the other person is the person that understands them the most in the world. When the contact stops, it can feel almost like a bereavement. It’s important that you replace that relationship with something else so that you can not only move on, but also realise that there is something else in your life other than the “other person”.
Take up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to do – for example, take a painting class or join a reading group. Even just make sure that you get out of the house occasionally – go to the cinema or go out to dinner. Remind yourself that there is more in your life than the other person and actually, that you can have a very fulfilling life without them.
Surround Yourself with Friends
An emotional affair usually occurs because one or both parties in the primary relationship were either neglecting the relationship, or expecting their emotional needs to be met by their spouse and their spouse only. You need to remember that you need to have friends – they will help you to move on from the emotional affair, and having that network of support around you will make you realise that you shouldn’t invest all of your energies in one person.
Although your primary emotional needs should be met by your spouse, you need friends and relationships with family members to nurture other aspects of your personality and also to show you a different perspective on anything that might be troubling you.
Fall Back in Love
Oftentimes, people get involved in an emotional affair because they’ve fallen a little bit out of love with their spouse. An emotional affair happens when an individual feels that their marriage is no longer fulfilling them in the same way as before – so to recover from an emotional affair, the most important thing you need to do is fall back in love with your spouse. It might be tough to do this, as you may harbour negative feelings towards your spouse because you’ve had to end the emotional affair or because they’ve been involved in an emotional affair.
To start with, remember what your relationship was like back at the very beginning. Remember why you fell in love – what was it that you liked about each other? What did you used to do together? How did you spend time together? Think about what your spouse used to do for you – perhaps they were very kind or perhaps they were very funny, and be thankful for it. Once you’ve remembered why you got together in the first place, it can be easier to fall back in love again.
To get your primary relationship back on track, you need to nurture it. You need to invest time and effort into your marriage and you need to reconnect with your spouse. Spend time together as a couple – but make sure it’s quality time, rather than just time spent vegetating in front of the television. Go out for dinner together, go to the cinema or even just go for a walk together. Make sure that you can talk openly and honestly – and let the conversation flow.
You don’t always have to talk about what you did at work – talk about your hopes, dreams, wants or even just what you want to eat next time you go to your favourite restaurant. Once you’ve fallen back in love and reconnected as a couple, you’ll be well on the way to recovery – and you’ll be a much stronger couple for it.
Take accountability for the emotional affair. It was your decision to have an affair and it was your decision to cross the line from friendship into an emotional affair. Although your primary relationship may have been suffering, it was you who chose to talk to someone other than your spouse about the problems in your marriage. If your spouse is upset with your behaviour, let them be upset. You have to take responsibility for what you did – even if it is uncomfortable – and then you can both truly begin to move on.
You can recover from an emotional affair. It might seem difficult and it might seem like you might never come back from the affair – but you can. The trust in your primary relationship has been broken, but it can also show you that there are problems in the relationship that you need to fix. Once you’ve established that there are problems, you can work on them and your relationship has the potential to be much stronger.