What is an emotional affair? 20 Sure signs of an emotional affair

What is an emotional affair?

An emotional affair is a deep and passionate relationship with someone of the opposite sex (other than your spouse) without any physical intimacy. It involves sharing your secrets, feelings and becoming extremely affectionate with the other person.

To make a long story short, emotional intimacy is adultery without physical intimacy. Emotional affair is very much considered as cheating, just as physical affair is.

Emotional affairs usually start as normal friendships. It’s a little tricky to recognize an emotional affair because of the defensive attitude of the mind. People usually defend themselves by saying “We are just friends”. However they quickly fall into an emotional affair before they realize. Emotional affairs sometimes turn into physical affairs too.

Cheating doesn’t mean you have to kiss, meet or have sex with someone else… Once you find yourself deleting messages or emails so your partner will not see them, then you already are there.

How much does it hurt to have an emotional affair?

An emotional affair hurts as much as a physical affair does, if not more. While many people are under the idea that emotional affairs do not hurt their marriages, they could not be more wrong. Trust is an important factor in any relationship. By having an emotional affair, they are simply showing unfaithfulness to their partner. It means that they don’t respect their spouse.

Just imagine if your partner is too close to someone else of the opposite sex. Your partner spends a lot of time with him/her, calling and laughing, sharing dirty jokes, making plans for the next week dinner, would you like it? Wouldn’t you get down-right jealous and angry? Wouldn’t you get hurt by being the second-best in your spouse’s heart?

Emotional affairs are as bad as physical affairs. Period.

Read: How to end an emotional affair?

Is your marriage safe?

The place of a spouse in your life is quite a privileged and valuable one. Emotional connection with anyone else other than your spouse always hurts your spouse. It could easily break your spouse’s heart, just as a physical affair does.

Fortunately, emotional affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your marriage. A couple can rebuild trust and romance in their relationship with some effort. The sooner one recognises the damage an emotional affair does the better.

6 Things that trigger emotional affairs


Workplaces and offices are flooded with both the genders equally. One of the places where an emotional affair starts can be in an office. The chances of an emotional affair with a co-worker are high, because they spend many hours together working as a team.  Sometimes, these innocent friendships turn into emotional affairs.


If you are in touch with an ex-lover, chances of an emotional affair are much more likely than a being in touch with a new friend. Since both of you have past experiences of sharing an emotional bond, it becomes much likely to be tempted to go back to your ex-lover.

Remember the rule of thumb: There’s no such thing as being friends after a break-up.

Emotional abandonment:

When your spouse is emotionally neglected or disrespected at home, he/she gets attracted to a person who respects and gives more attention. Neglect and indifference are very dangerous. An emotionally deserted person may even go looking for an extra marital affair, just to take revenge on her spouse or overcome her bitterness.

Too much pressure at home:

Getting exhausted at work, extremely naughty kids, family members pouring in and out, lot of household work can put quite a pressure on a person. Amidst all of these, a married couple hardly has any time to have romance happening in their lives. If your partner is an attention-seeking person, or starving for a bit of love and tenderness, make sure you give it in plenty. Otherwise, their innocent friendship turns into emotional affairs without their knowledge.

Bad marriage:

Of course, this is an obvious case. With all those arguments every day, bitter fights, your marriage gets terrible. And a place where you vent out your feelings is with a friend. An emotional affair is most easy to begin if your friend is of the opposite sex. It’s most likely to turn into a physical affair and eventually into a relationship.

Dangers of Internet:

What starts as a casual friendship can turn into sexual conversations online, thanks to our technological advancements. Dating sites are the place where thousands of emotional affairs happen every day.


20 Sure signs of you are having an emotional affair

Go here if you want to know whether your spouse is cheating on you.

Being honest with yourself is one of the first steps in spotting an emotional affair you might be having. The line that separates friendship and emotional affair is quite thin. Crossing the line can often happen without your notice. Here are some sure signs that you have crossed the line of friendship and entered the domain of an emotional affair.

Lost in thoughts:

You love to keep re-calling those moments you and the other person spent together. You look forward to spend more time with him/her.  You plan how to invite the other person to the next weekend’s dinner or for a game of golf. You unexpectedly become like a teenager attracted to someone.

Wishing your spouse was like him/her:

You start comparing your spouse to the other person. Your spouse’s faults are magnified all of a sudden and you start judging your spouse. Your perspective changes and the other person becomes the perfect mate, while your spouse’s negative traits are enhanced. If you start thinking on those lines, then you are clearly in an emotional affair.

Communicating a lot:

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional phone calls and his and hellos. However, if you miss the other person too much, or if you want to spend hours talking, then you have crossed the line. Any phone call that goes more half an hour and more than 2 times a day is dangerous for your marriage (unless it’s a business-call, of course).

Sharing your marital problems:

The moment you share your marital problem to another person is the moment you have lost your partner’s trust. Marriage and marital issues should never reach a third person’s ears, unless you and your spouse agree to it. Conversations like “My spouse fights so dirty”, “I wish my spouse understood me like you” are deal-breakers of your marriage.

Sharing your dreams and goals:

Whether it’s starting your own business or writing a novel that ends up as famous as Harry Potter, everyone has their dreams and goals. While there’s nothing wrong sharing them with your friends, going too much into it can be a starting point of emotional affair. This is not a direct sign that you are in an emotional affair. But these things often help you gain a good friendship, which, in turn helps in creating a great foundation for your emotional affair.

Extra-special hugs:

While an occasional hug with a friend is alright, a three minute long hug is definitely not a way to behave with a friend or a colleague. Do you kiss the other person often? Is there some excitement and passion when both of you kiss and hug? Then, it takes no time for both of you to enter a physical affair.

You may say that it’s ok to kiss or hug because the other person is just your friend. But would you hug or kiss the same way if your spouse was with you? If not, then your friendship is navigating its way to an affair.

Making the other one feel special:

You put all your effort to make sure that the other person feels he/she has a special place in your heart. You joke with her, laugh, talk and eat together. You try to your fullest to impress the other person. While you are the charming fellow here, your marriage suffers because your spouse is no longer special to you.

Caring for the other person:

Taking care of someone doesn’t always mean an emotional affair. Some people show responsibility to anyone they are fond of – Spouse, kids, siblings, parents or friends. However, if you find yourself over-anxious and concerned about the other person’s struggles, it may mean something. Try to see it with other points. If you are doing some of the above mentioned things while taking care of this friend, it may indicate the trigger of an affair.

Exposing your secrets to her:

Another sign that you are in an emotional affair is that you share your innermost feelings and secrets to the other person. This is a way of getting closer to the significant other.

Love fantasies:

Do you keep thinking how lucky you would be if the other person met you before you got married? Are you daydreaming about a life with the other person as your spouse? Do you imagine having a life together and forever with the other person? Do you love an idea of having sex with the other?  If yes, then case closed. You have crossed the line ages ago.

Injecting sexual feelings:

Are you sending the other person dirty jokes and messages? While a random joke won’t hurt, doing it regularly isn’t a common thing. What’s the purpose of it? Are you trying to flirt with the other person? Are you trying to make your sexual fantasies a reality? You may be sending the erotic messages to see how she reacts. Or you may be trying to find out if the other person is interested in a sexual intimacy with you. Analyse yourself.

Special Sweetheart:

As you share your joys and struggles with the other person even before you share with your spouse, she occupies a role of “the special one”. He/she is the first person you remember when something significant happens. You make a mental note to share them the news, leaving your spouse apart. It’s a clear sign that you are enjoying an intense emotional connection with the other.

Yearning for the other:

Some other good warnings that you are emotionally getting over-attached to them:

  • Calling the other person outside safe hours, (like late night) because you feel like talking to them
  • Getting desperate when you don’t get a reply from the other person
  • Checking the phone too often
  • Getting excited when there’s a text from other person
  • Responding as soon as they message you
  • Feeling the “Butterflies in your stomach” and “chills in your spine” when you think of them or when they tell you something particularly sweet.

Unable to sleep:

Remember those days back in your teens when you were in love? You could never fall asleep until early hours of morning. You used to roll in your bed recalling some moment, or texting the other person, smiling to yourself, looking silly and stupid. If the same pattern repeats now, then you can be sure of something fishy in your life.

Getting beauty and fashion conscious:

Suddenly, if you start hitting the gym to get a good body shape, going to the salon to try out a new hair style and taking great skin care and following a great health regime, then be honest with yourself. Are you doing it to impress the other person? If you are motivated to start a healthy lifestyle, then great. If not, your spouse is bound to suspect you.  Generally, the point when you wish to have a physical intimacy with the other person, is where you get obsessed with how you look. Do you want the other to think of you as “the hot girl” or “the sexy guy”? Damn! You have gone too far. It’s good to put an end to it unless you want your marriage to end up ruined.

Losing interest in your spouse:

It’s quite an overwhelming task for a person to show equal amount of love and affection to two people at once. So, once your best friend became your emotional darling, you naturally start to lose interest in your spouse.

Don’t get confused, though. Marriages do start to go downhill after a couple of years when especially when kids enter. Your marriage becomes more of a routine there. However, in an emotional affair, you suddenly lose interest in your wife; you compare her to the other person; and you don’t care for her anymore.

Guilt pangs:

Sometimes the inner voice pokes you about what you are doing. You don’t feel up to your usual morals and ethics. Guilt makes its way into your mind. It reminds you that enjoying the simultaneous affection of two people is a disloyal act. While one part of your mind suggests you to stop this non-sense, the tempting part of your mind is hard to fight with. You end up fighting your mind; I covered that in the next point.

Fighting your own feelings:

You feel guilty, at the same time, you don’t want to leave the other person because you can’t get a day going without his/her interaction. You get defensive, you start searching for reasons on why the other person is nothing more than a friend. You justify actions by telling yourself “It’s just friendship.”

As a part of justification and defence against your guilt, you sometimes start being extra sweet to your spouse. You buy gifts and call him/her cute names. But another part of your mind simply compares your spouse to your “best-friend”


You find yourself lying to your spouse very frequently. You never share your conversations and interaction with the other person to your spouse. You try to pretend to your spouse as though the other person doesn’t exist in your life.

Defensive attitude:

When your spouse questions about the other person, you get defensive. Subconsciously, it’s a way of protecting yourself from getting caught or leaving your well established relationship.

Let’s say your spouse questions something as casual as “How’s he/she doing?” Do you get slightly nervous? Do you just give a one word answer “Fine”, without looking into your spouse’s eyes? Do you leave the room immediately or cast around for a change of topic? Without any doubt, you are in an emotional affair.

Read: Is your spouse cheating you?