What you think is playful chit-chat might be interpreted another way. But does emotional infidelity constitute cheating? We’ll give you three guesses…
So you met this guy and he’s a total catch. You shamelessly flirt with him, meet up with him for drinks after work and even send each other funny and intimate text messages. So what’s the big deal?
Oh right, he’s not your boyfriend.
Though sexual cheating is one of the most common forms of infidelity, emotional cheating can have an equally negative impact on your relationship. While you may think that your innocent “friendly affair” is based purely on the principles of friendship, it’s more than safe to say that your significant other wouldn’t share the same belief. Sure, there may not be any a physical relationship at play; however, this type of situation still raises the question:
Does emotional infidelity actually constitute cheating?
In many ways, emotional attachments are stronger than physical attachments that rely on sexual encounters. However, most people would argue that emotional infidelity is not comparable to the extremity of an ongoing sexual tryst. But let’s be honest here, would you truly feel OK knowing that your significant other is lunching, laughing and sharing their personal and professional goals and secrets with another person that isn’t you? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it wouldn’t make you feel very secure about your relationship.
What causes someone to look elsewhere for the attention and affection they crave?
Often times, feeling emotionally distant from a boyfriend who you feel never fully listens to you, or a girlfriend who doesn’t understand you, can make a person become emotionally detached in their relationship and start to drift off. When this happens, many people find it’s easier to take comfort in the companionship of a “buddy” because they have an unbiased viewpoint and are easier to talk to about problems without having to worry about getting in a fight.
In many cases, many people find it easiest to seek friendship in their co-workers. Maybe it’s the fact that you both understand each other. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that after seeing each other day in and day out on a consistent basis, you start to develop a strong connection with that person.
Other times, there are some people who continue to maintain a friendship with someone they dated in the past that they never fully got over. Whatever the case may be, under the surface of the majority of these so-called “friendships” there often lies a strong sexual chemistry that is dying to be unleashed.
Even though the two of you may never act on the chemistry, when you unintentionally—or sometimes intentionally!—put yourself into a sticky situation with a friend from work or an ex from a previous relationship knowing that there could be romantic feelings involved, it’s like you’re walking into a lion’s den with 10 pounds of meat strapped to your body and a sign taped to your back that says “Eat Me.” Ok, perhaps that’s a little drastic, but I think you get what I’m trying to say here—emotional cheating can still be considered a form of cheating.
How do you know if you’ve crossed the line and are actually an emotional cheater?
Whether you’re a guy or gal, below are a few red flags that show that you’ve overstepped your boundaries with your so-called “friend.”
You share more aspects of your life with your “friend” than with your significant other. This includes anything from personal goals and feelings to intimate details about your love life that would be seen as a violation of trust by your partner.
You find yourself less connected with your partner and more connected with your “friend.”
When in the company of your “friend” your body language changes to show signs of sexual attraction.
You tell your “friend” things that irritate or annoy you about your significant other.
You can openly discuss the sexual tension going on between you and your “friend.”
You begin to keep your contact with your “friend” secret from your significant other.
You begin to feel a distance between you and your partner, and realize that you aren’t bothered by it.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself talking or acting in a way that would be embarrassing if your boyfriend or girlfriend found out, the chances are that you’re emotionally cheating. But this doesn’t mean you should feel guilty and beat yourself up over it; we are all human and inadvertently find ourselves drawn to certain people at different points in our lives.
The important thing to remember is that if you want your relationship with your significant other to survive, it’s imperative that you change the dynamic of your relationship with your “friend” or cease contact all together if you are unable to control your feelings.
[image: via r reeves on flickr]
About the Author
Sarah Williams is a freelance writer that is passionate about psychology. After several relationships and a LOT of dates, she shares her honest love and dating tips on Wingman Magazine as well as Google + and Twitter. After all, she is just a hopeless romantic trying to figure it all out.