The signs of emotional cheating can sometimes be more obvious than physical affairs. (Photo by PhotoAlto/Eric Audras/PhotoAlto Agency)
Emotional affairs can be just as destructive to a relationship as physical cheating, and even murkier, making them difficult to resolve. Often they’re harder to pinpoint and define than a sexual affair. “It starts out as a friendship, so it can be confusing,” says sex and relationship expert Dr. Tammy Nelson, author of “The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity.” “The important thing is to determine where a friendship crosses the line. It is a slippery slope from friend to emotional affair to a sexual relationship.”
While the person involved may not feel sexual chemistry, he or she might still feel an intense sense of intimacy deep enough to make his or her partner feel it’s a form of infidelity. The lack of defining acts or words makes this situation even more ambiguous. However, there are some clear signs that something’s amiss – and that your partner is forming an emotional bond with someone other than you. Here’s what to watch for:
1. Sudden Secretiveness If your partner is trying to hide something from you, you’re probably going to notice, especially if you live together. According to relationship expert Abby Rodman (abbyrodman.com), author of “Without This Ring: A Woman’s Guide to Successfully Living Through and Beyond Midlife Divorce,” your partner might start taking his or her cell phone into the bathroom or will stop texting the moment when you walk into the room.
A less obvious sign is when your partner takes steps toward privacy that weren’t in place before. When you log onto a shared computer or happen to use his or her phone, “you might notice all of the history has been deleted,” Rodman says. “Or you used to know their passwords, but now they’ve inexplicably been changed, leaving you wondering why.”
2. Disconnecting From You When your partner is getting attention and emotional reinforcement from someone else, he or she may start detaching from you, according to cognitive behavioral therapist Alex Hedger (DynamicYou.com). Your partner might stop discussing problems or bad days with you, but “he won’t show any outward signs of stress,” he explains. “This is due to him still getting his needs met outside of the relationship.”
Physical detachment might happen as well, says licensed psychologist Dr. Kimber Shelton (kls-counseling.com), who treats patients in various relationship stages, from dating to divorce. “People become connected to the fantasy of another person,” she says. “Included in this fantasy could be an imagined sexual relationship, in which intimacy with you feels like an emotional betrayal to the other person.”
3. Becoming Critical of You In addition to pulling away emotionally or physically, your partner might also put you down. One reason, according to marriage counselor and infidelity specialist Lisa Ryan, LPC (advocacycircle.com), is also due to your partner comparing you to the fantasy of the other person. However, he or she may also start putting you down out of guilt. On a related note, your partner may lash out at you if you happen to criticize the object of her affection. One of the more common signs is if he or she gets extremely defensive if anything even slightly negative is said about the person he or she may be having an emotional affair with, according to Michelle Katz, LPN, MSN (about.me/michellekatz).
4. New Interest in Technology Your partner’s overall use of their smartphone may suddenly increase. Perhaps they were never really into social media or only checked their feeds every so often. Once an emotional affair is in place, however, these digital platforms may be the primary way they communicate with the person they’ve become involved with, since they make the relationship easier to hide. “Social-media sites are perfect havens for emotional cheaters,” says Rodman. “Snapchat is an obvious favorite and LinkedIn gives involved coworkers an acceptable platform for connecting.”
5. Failing the Gut Check Other signs might be your partner changing the way he or she dresses, suddenly becoming more lighthearted or behaving immaturely in a way that is out of character, Ryan says. However, “emotional cheating needn’t disrupt daily routine in order for it to be going on,” Rodman warns. “Your gut is a pretty good indicator when something’s not right in your relationship. Don’t ignore it.”
You might consider confronting your partner, suggests licensed marriage and family therapist Marni Feurman, LCSW, LMFT, (TheTalkingSolution.com) by saying something like, “I don’t feel as close to you lately, and it’s starting to scare me.” It may initiate a difficult conversation that can help you get you some clarity.
The original article “Signs Your Partner Is Having an Emotional Affair“ appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.
By Natasha Burton
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