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When we hear the word affair, we normally think of someone cheating on their partner by having sex with another person. But sexual infidelity is not the only form of infidelity. Emotional infidelity also exists. An emotional affair is when a person invests more emotional support into a friend or someone outside of their marriage than they invest in their partner.


You can generally tell emotional infidelity apart from simple friendship because your interactions often involve some sexual tension or romantic attraction. Yet emotional cheating can begin to erode the foundations of your relationship and weaken your commitment to your partner. People define cheating in different ways, so emotional attachments may not automatically come to mind when you consider infidelity. Generally speaking, emotional cheating happens when your closeness to someone else disrupts your investment in your partner.

You focus on the connection you have with them instead of on your existing usually monogamous relationship. You might feel unsure how to bring up the emotional attachment or simply avoid telling them because you want to keep it to yourself.

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In the beginning, emotional cheating can feel a lot like friendship. This kind of situation might develop when something creates unwanted space between you and your partner. Maybe a physical or mental health issue makes it tough for them to connect emotionally. Yet when you turn to someone else to fulfill your need for intimacyyou deny yourself and your partner the chance to work through the issue productively and strengthen your relationship.

They engage when you start conversations.

* create distance

They use their phone more than usual and keep it with them all the time. Your interactions also stay pretty superficial. They share memes and social media posts or tell you about funny things that happened at work but they say little about anything serious. When you try to connect more intimately, they seem annoyed or brush you off.

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In fact, maintaining friendships outside your romantic relationship can serve as a key of a healthy relationship. A key difference, however, lies in the fact that friends play a supportive role, not a leading one. Would you feel comfortable with your partner looking over a conversation you had with a friend? They should never go through your phone without permission, of course. Friendship can provide some of the emotional support you need and deservebut consider talking to a therapist, too.

A therapist can offer guidance with recognizing the s of abuse and safely ending the relationship. You might build up casual rapport with a long-time follower or commenter. You might also want to examine the connection a little more closely if you hesitate to share it with your partner. Micro-cheating involves any behavior that approaches or brushes up against relationship boundaries but falls short of actually crossing them.

Put an end to the DMs or text messages, keep interactions with your co-worker strictly work-related, and avoid one-on-one hangouts. You might start, for example, by saying:. Find more tips for productive communication here.

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You know the sparks have faded, but how can you explain you want to move on without hurting them? But no matter how much the truth might sting, own it. Being honest now will almost always prevent more pain down the line — for both of you. You might feel tempted to snoop around or check their phone. Instead, focus on their responses and willingness to change.

Do they immediately apologize and open up? The best way to set healthy boundaries is to openly discuss what you consider a betrayal of trust. Then talk through your lists.

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Make sure you both have the chance to share. If you disagree on whether a specific behavior is problematic, speak up honestly so you can talk through your viewpoints and find a solution. What if you love your partner and still feel attracted to them, but develop feelings for someone else at the same time? Crushes are completely normal, but if your feelings persist and you have some interest in opening up your relationship, talk to your partner.

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They may not be on board with nonmonogamy, but a conversation can help you get more insight on the best path forward. This can be a difficult choice to make. Staying in an unfulfilling relationship and investing your energy in someone else does neither of you any good. Frequent, honest conversations can help you rebuild trust and address relationship issues as soon as they pop up. Good communication can even help you resolve some challenges, like lack of intimacy, before they become a matter of concern.

Not all relationships work out, and breaking up can give you both the opportunity to find someone you can fully invest in.

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When you both want to build a stronger partnership, professional support from a relationship therapist can help you navigate the effects of emotional cheating, rebuild trust, and work on communication and other skills for healthy relationships. The key to bypassing these murky waters? Plenty of deep, emotional heart-to-hearts and honest sharing. Crystal Raypole has ly worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

What makes a friendship platonic, anyway? We've got everything you need to know, including how to keep a good friendship going. But what about things that are a little more subtle — like winking…. Rebuilding trust in a relationship is no small task, but it is possible.

How to recognize emotional cheating — and what to do next

Whether you've been betrayed or hurt your loved one, we've got you covered on…. It happens when your brain decides that…. Why do people cheat? We'll break down what experts believe are the most common answers to this age-old question and offer tips for moving past…. Black women are largely fighting the same battles from years ago.

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Find examples, tips to handle a mistake with compassion and grace, and more. Anal fingering can be a standalone good time or perfect foray into other butt play.

* be honest with your partner

Here's how to get started. Health Conditions Discover Plan Connect. Medically reviewed by Jacquelyn Johnson, PsyD. What counts Common scenarios Cheating vs. What counts as emotional cheating? What does it usually look like in practice? What makes this different from platonic intimacy?

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Where does social media come into play? Is this the same thing as micro-cheating?

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How do you set boundaries around it? Is it ever a to open the relationship or consider other dynamics? How do you and your partner move past it? The bottom line. Read this next. Platonic Friendships Are Possible and Important. Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph. How to Rebuild Trust After a Betrayal.

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph. Why Do People Cheat in Relationships?

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Some key components of an emotional affair might be that, although you say this person is just a friend, you have way more interactions with them than you would with just a regular friend.