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November 8, 2013
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Dealing With an Emotional Affair

November 8, 2013 02:55 by Casey Truffo, LMFT

What is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affairs are more common than you might think.  Maybe it's happened to you in the past, or it's happening to you now.  Is having an emotional affair actually cheating on your spouse?  You bet it is.  Some people disagree that an emotional affair is the same thing as having a sexual affair; however, both are wrong.  Being closer to somebody other than your spouse on any level equates having an affair and is, therefore, cheating on your spouse.

So, you've developed a strong friendship with a member of the opposite sex at your workplace.  Nothing wrong with that, is there?  No, there isn't.  Members of the opposite sex can be best friends for a lifetime; however, it is important that both realize they can never cross the line into an intimate, romantic, sexual affair.  It's human nature that the more time you spend with someone, the higher chance that you may be attracted to that person.  It is not worth risking your marriage in order to maintain a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex. 

How does it happen? 

Maybe things aren't going well between you and your spouse.  Maybe you are overwhelmed with raising children or running to sporting events.  Maybe your spouse did something that hurt your feelings, or maybe you hardly ever see your spouse due to things you can't control, such as opposite work schedules.  Now, suppose you work full-time in an office setting.  Maybe you have a great friendship with a coworker with whom you work well and enjoy talking with; someone you find interesting.  Emotional affairs normally start as friendships and then something happens to take it to the next level.  Maybe your hands touch when you are handing paperwork or files to that person.  Maybe you brush up against the person and feel a spark you haven't felt with your spouse in a long time.  Maybe the smell of the person's cologne or perfume heightens your senses.  Regardless of how it happens, you're now in dangerous territory but you feel energized, youthful, and playful.  This is the beginning of an emotional affair. 

Emotional affairs can be devastating to a marriage or any long-term committed relationship. There should never be a time that you feel more connected to anybody more than your spouse.  If this is happening to you, you need to take a step back and end the emotional affair before it turns into something more.   

Making the right choice. 

In order to end an emotional affair, you need to be committed to ending the relationship with the person you’ve become close to, even if it means losing a friendship, and moving forward with your spouse.  Consider these ideas and how they may apply to your situation. 

  • Understand your spouse's needs.  For example, females normally need things like affection, honesty, conversation, and family commitment, and males usually need things like admiration, sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and domestic support.
  • Be committed to fulfilling your spouse's needs and telling your spouse what you need in order to be happy and satisfied in your marriage.
  • Focus your energy on communicating with your spouse and making your relationship your number one priority.  

There are more direct things you can do to avoid the temptation of having an affair, such as avoiding time alone with the opposite sex and staying away from environments where affairs typically begin, such as bars and nightclubs. 

If you have had an emotional affair, you and your spouse can get through it.  But it won't be easy.  Although you are ready to be finished with the affair, be aware that your confession will only be the beginning of pain and heartbreak for your spouse.  Ask for forgiveness and work to gain your spouse's trust.  This will probably be a difficult process and may take months, or even years, to work through.  Seeking help and support from a professional counselor who can help you work through the various stages of healing can help significantly. 

When you’ve been hurt by an emotional affair. 

You may have just found out that your spouse or partner is having an emotional affair.  You will likely go through many emotional stages.  You may not believe this is happening to you, but it is important not to immediately demand a divorce; you may regret it if you do.  This is the one time in your marriage where you will need to have a heart-to-heart talk, without blame, where you both decide if your marriage is worth saving.  You will both need to be committed to starting over and to doing whatever it takes to restore your trust and love. 

No matter where you are in the mix, the person ending an emotional affair or the person finding out your spouse has been involved in one, the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center can help.  Our counselors are trained professionals who can help you get through this trying time in your marriage.  Contact us today at 949-220-3211, or book an appointment through our online calendar.  We are committed to working with couples to restore their love, trust, and commitment to each other. 

About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

You deserve to feel better - in your life and relationships. At OC Relationship Center we want to help you find more love, more joy, more peace...and less conflict and less stress. Our licensed and caring counselors can help if you are single, dating, married, divorced.

OC Relationship Center can be found at
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