Are You Having An Emotional Affair? 16 Signs You May Not Recognize

Emotional cheating isn’t micro-cheating. There’s nothing small about this type of infidelity that can sometimes be seen as even more damaging than having physical affairs. It can also be a precursor to physical betrayal. Could you be guilty of having an emotional affair? Here are 16 signs that should make you stop and think because your relationship is in the balance.

  1. Your partner’s not on your mind. When you spend time with the person outside of your relationship, your partner doesn’t really feature on your mind. If you’re spending so much time with the other person that you’re blocking out thoughts of your partner, you could be entering dangerous territory. This is one of the biggest signs of an emotional affair.
  2. You’re irritable after seeing your partner. When your hangout session with the other person is over and you return to your partner, do you feel less patient and more irritable with your partner? These are signs of relationship dissatisfaction or a sense of coming back down to earth after having had an amazing time with the person. Could the person be an escape from real life?
  3. Your relationship is lacking intimacy. Maybe you and your partner haven’t been having sex much lately, or you’re not finding the time to connect emotionally. If this has started happening around the time you started spending more time with the other person, it tells you something. While sex isn’t necessary 24/7 for a happy relationship, if it’s lacking, that’s a problem.
  4. You wish your partner could be different. During a heated argument with your partner, do you tell them that you wish they were more like your “friend?” Do you compare them to your friend, even when you’re not fighting? Or, do you privately wish that your partner was more like your friend? All of these are inappropriate.
  5. You know your “friend” is attracted to you. Is there sexual tension between you and the other person? If you know your partner has feelings for, or an attraction to, you, and you continue spending a lot of time with them or thinking about them, this is adding gasoline to the fire.
  6. You’re vulnerable with the other person. There’s nothing wrong with confiding in someone outside of your relationship. You know you’re crossing a line, though, when what you’re confiding in them about is not what you share with your partner. You might show the other person a much more vulnerable or real side to you.
  7. You gossip about your partner. This might be harmless, especially when you’re out with your BFFs, but it’s not cool to do with someone who’s outside of the relationship and possibly has a crush on you. It’s totally out of line if you’d cringe if your partner found out what you were saying about them.
  8. You’re amped about the next hangout. One of the biggest signs that you may be involved in an emotional affair is when you get hyped up about seeing this other person a little too much. While you look forward to time with platonic friends and it’s NBD, if you’re finding yourself experiencing excitement and butterflies before spending time with the person, this could point to something that’s not platonic.
  9. You feel different around them. Do you feel different around this person as compared to when you’re with other friends? You might not know exactly how you feel, but you know that it’s different. Maybe you pay more attention to how you look and dress around this person or you wouldn’t want to share texts with them with your partner.
  10. You feel guilty around your partner. Do you feel guilty about your friendship with this other person? Do you feel guilty if your partner asks to use your phone because you’re worried about them seeing messages from the person? Guilt is a clear sign you feel you’re crossing a line, even if you don’t realize it.
  11. You feel the other person “gets” you. It’s great to feel that your friend understands you, but you should also be dating someone who makes you feel that. If you don’t feel like your partner understands what you’re about but this other person does, that tells you something. You’re feeling a unique connection with this person.
  12. You rain-check on your partner. Since this person entered your mind and life, you started canceling dates with your partner on a more regular basis because you’d rather be around the other person or you’re just tired from spending so much time with them that you don’t have as much time for your partner.
  13. You’re not following “friendship hours.” You used to be limited to spending time with, or contacting, your friend on certain days or at certain times, like at lunchtime. It’s sort of an unwritten rule that friendships follow. Now things are changing, though. You’re chatting in the early hours or making last-minute plans to head out for dinner together. Things are clearly progressing, and this could be getting in the way of your relationship.
  14. You’re stuck in a fantasy. This is another of the most ignored but worrying signs of an emotional affair. Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about this other person? Do you imagine what it would be like if you had to leave your partner for them? While these fantasies can be NBD, if they happen regularly or make you dread your real-life relationship, that’s a big red flag that you’re guilty of emotional cheating.
  15. You’re worried your partner’s cheating. If you feel guilty about your relationship with the other person, but you’re accusing your partner of cheating on you, this is classic projection. Doing this might help you to ease your own guilt but it just makes things worse.
  16. Your partner’s noticed a change. Has your partner recently told you how you seem happier when you’re around this other person? Or that you seem angrier with them than usual? Any changes in your personality or behavior that your partner’s noticed should alert you to the fact that something’s going on with you. It’s time to take deeper stock of your feelings, relationship, and friendship, and make some important decisions about your life.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.