Warning Signs of an Emotional Affair


An emotional affair is perhaps one of the most devastating types of affairs, as it involves feelings and wants and desires – which can sometimes be more damaging than a purely sexual encounter where there are no feelings involved. The trouble with emotional affairs is that the spouse involved in the affair can feel like they are doing nothing wrong – after all, there is no physical contact involved, and it may never have entered their mind to make the jump from “just friends” to “lovers”. But the spouse’s partner can feel just as betrayed, hurt and cheated in the wake of an emotional affair as they would in the wake of a sexual affair.

As with any affair, an emotional affair carries its own warning signs. If you recognise your behaviour in the list mentioned below, it could indicate that you are engaged in an emotional affair.

You Say Things to Your Friend That You Wouldn’t if Your Spouse Were There

This is probably the biggest indicator that you are involved in an emotional affair. If you repeatedly hold conversations with your friend that would not be appropriate in front of your partner, or if you are flirty with the friend, but you wouldn’t be willing to act in the same way if you were in front of your partner, it could mean that there is more going on between you and your friend than you might be willing to admit.

You Become Your “Best You” Around Your Friend

If you always make sure that you look your very best to see your friend, it could mean that you are more invested in that friendship than you should be. Being your “best you” doesn’t always mean the most attractive you, either – if you go out of your way to show your friend how sympathetic, funny, wise, kind or charming you are, it could again indicate that you are involved in an emotional affair.

You Anticipate Spending Time with Your Friend

If you become excited at the thought of spending time with your friend – or if you long to see them, it could mean that you are involved in an emotional affair. Equally, if you find yourself wanting to tell your friend small details about your day – such as a compliment your boss gave about your work, or to tell them about a brilliant new book you think they should read, and you neglect to share that information with your spouse in the same way, it could mean that you are involved in an emotional affair with that friend.

You Share Your Marital Problems with Your Friend

An emotional affair can cause an individual to move away from their spouse in terms of both physical and emotional intimacy. It can cause the individual involved in the affair to believe that their marriage isn’t up to scratch – and they then start to talk about those marital problems with their friend. They may talk about how bad their marriage is and how unhappy it is making them.

Their friend may also start to talk about their own relationship difficulties. If you find yourself spending more and more time talking about your marital problems with your friend, rather than trying to work on those marital problems with your spouse, it could mean that you are involved in an emotional affair.

You Keep the Time Spent with Your Friend a Secret

You might rationalise spending time with your friend as just spending time with another friend. Because of this, you might feel that you don’t actually need to tell your spouse the details about the time spent with your friend – you might write it off as an entirely platonic friendship that you don’t need to share the details of. But if your spouse asks you questions about where you are going or what you are doing and you say “just seeing a friend” – without specifying the sex or any other details, it could mean that there is more to you and your friend’s relationship than you might be willing to admit.

You Make Sacrifices to Speak to Your Friend

If you’re involved in an emotional affair, you could find yourself sacrificing other things in your life – such as time spent with your partner, time spent with your family, having drinks with your friends, in order to spend time with your friend. You might stay up and speak to your friend online when your spouse has gone to sleep, or you might turn down a lunch with your friends in favour of meeting your other friend for a drink. If you find yourself wanting to spend more and more time with your friend, and sacrificing other things in your life in order to do so, it could mean that you’re involved in an emotional affair.

If You Suspect Your Spouse is Having an Emotional Affair

Your spouse could be involved in an emotional affair if they suddenly become much friendlier with someone of the opposite sex. They might not share any information about their friend, or they may seem unwilling for the two of you to meet. They could also seem a little bit distant and unresponsive, both emotionally and physically.

Your spouse may not have mentioned a new friend, but if they spend more and more time emailing or texting and are reluctant to tell you who they are speaking to you, consistently have to go on long lunches or work late at the office when they have never had to do so in the past and are picky, aggressive, cold or distant and reluctant to engage in conversations with you, it could mean that they are involved in an emotional or even a physical affair.

Although an emotional affair can be devastating, you can recover from it. An emotional affair can be a symptom of a bigger problem within a relationship, and if one occurs, it can be the push that both individuals within the marriage need to put more time, energy and effort into their relationship.

  • Mrs e

    I was in hospital recently and found out my husband of 20years had been phoning another woman eccesively even into early hours of the morning was going to places just to get a glimpse and a 5 minute chat We in a small village n wen ? He stated he had only helped her with car breakdown n that I’m a idiot. He doesnt see how belittling this is to me that I’m the victim of his/her affair. Yet keeps her on a pedestal n Belittling me

  • Psalm 27

    My husband is having an emotional affair. I just recently got married 4 months and found out he has been contacting this female doctor in UP Michigan (Cindy Statler, MD). He would secretly spoke to her on the phone and receiving text messages in the middle of the night from her. He would carried his phone around everywhere he goes even when taking a shower. He finally admitted to me last night that he’s been having an affair with her for few weeks now. I’m hurt and devasted. Please leave my husband alone!

    • rasby

      I understand that your hurt. But, don’t you think that your husband has more to do with the affair than the woman. She did wrong, of course. But, your husband is the one who betrayed you and your marriage. All marriages are tested and the strength of the spouse is what keeps it strong no matter how many men or women try to break it. Its not right putting the woman name on this social page without putting your husband’s name beside it. You have a problem in your marriage and it was revealed by your husband having an affair. I do not believe in cheating and I have encountered situations with married spouses who wants to cheat because they are having problems at home with their spouse. I do not mess up a marriage, but married people make themselves available knowing they are married but are missing something they either no longer gets at home. I am sorry for your pain, but this situation is in your marriage.

  • AKGal

    I am having a problem accepting the boyfriend’s longtime best friend whom is female and also an ex-girlfriend from 7 years ago. They have not been in anyway romantic/intimate in 7 years, but have remained best friends. I have accepted her, even like her and know that nothing intimate is between them and never will be. However, my boyfriend cannot go one day without texting her “good morning”. I have told him how it makes me feel but he doesn’t see it and gets upset that I say something. He thinks I don’t trust him. I have complete trust in him, it’s the need I believe he has to contact her everyday that gets me upset. Granted most of the texts are just a quick “Good Morning” and she replies back saying the same. Even just that little bit of contact on a daily basis or every other day bothers me. We have been fighting a lot about it lately. When the bestfriend got wind we were fighting about her, she said she would just walk away and out of our lives. I don’t want that either. Am I over-reacting?

    • U.N. Owen

      It’s possible that it’s an over-reaction. Reconsider what you’ve told us, she is his best friend of 7 years and also an ex, ex means that the two of them dated and figured out that things didn’t work for them and that they were better as friends, best friends it seems.

      Have they always contacted one another everyday even before you got with him?

      If this best friend were male would you feel the same way?

      Why exactly does it bother you so much that he contacts her?

      If the situation was reversed and you had a male best friend that you contacted each day, would you be upset if your boyfriend brought it up and said that it bothers him?

      Does he consider his friend more like a sister with whom in those seven years he has gone through a lot with?

      You say that you trust him but here you are actively looking into the possibility that he might be having an emotional affair and posting this comment here despite saying there is nothing romantic and intimate between them. In my personal opinion you either don’t trust him regardless of how much you say that you do or you harbor a jealousy towards their relationship. You love(?) your boyfriend and you may be feeling jealous and possessive.

      This seems like something so little to go to couples therapy or a mediator for but despite what you know about their relationship it still bothers you a lot. Something small like this could end a relationship and a lot of ways I won’t say or else risk causing you to feel paranoid.

    • betrayed

      I see that this is a year ago…and this response may be coming late. I am in your shoes, except I was married. My husband consistently texts his female co-worker good morning, good afternoon, and good night. They were seeing each other 4x a week. They insist that they are just friends, have included me in some of their outings, vacations, and I had full access to his phone if I wanted to see his texts. But I was nevertheless uncomfortable with their friendship because he had a better connection with her and we were already having marital issues. So the disparity between his treatment of her and of me was apparently and maddening. However, because they were “just friends,” he claimed that I was over-reacting and shouldn’t interfere with his life.

      This is what I have learned — regardless of whether they were having an emotional affair or just a platonic relationship, if it makes you uncomfortable, then the two of you need to address this now, before you go further into the relationship. It isn’t about the legitimacy of their relationship, but rather, about how you two will work out conflict, and how you two are willing to accept and respect each other’s feelings and boundaries.

      You have to decide what you can and cannot live with. Would you rather live with this discomfort for the rest of your life? Or would you rather not? Is his love for you (or your love for him) strong enough to withstand their relationship? And if you cannot live with it, then you should end the relationship now. I was reminded that we often settle for the relationship we think we deserve. So…the question is, can you live with this if he cannot change? Is he willing to make adjustments for you? This is a test of your relationship now.

  • jelly

    I just realised my husband has been having an emotional affair with a friend he met on the internet, i am devastated but he claims i caused it. I only ralised it when he started belittling me and shouting at me. i feel lost and dead, he was my all