Is an affair, all about touching someone’s skin, or letting someone else touch your heart too? When you are in a committed relationship, you are expected to stay loyal not just from a physical and sexual standpoint, you are expected to do the same emotionally too. This article talks about the most clear warning signs of an emotional affair.
How to Know If You’re Having an Emotional Affair
In at least one of my romantic relationships, I fell into the trap of engaging in affairs. The problem (Aside from one extremely dumb incident of physical cheating I much regret), was not touching someone else’s skin.
The issue I found emerging was allowing someone else to touch my heart.
One truth that’s not so self-evident is that not all affairs are created equal. In fact, I find I can draw clear lines between the affairs of the heart and those of the flesh. They can be separate, they can be one and the same, but they are both equally damning.
I often struggle with the idea of commitment. and to a point, I never understood the concept of monogamy. In fact, sometimes I still don’t. The idea of commitment and settling down with one person—forever, or even for a long, long time—scares me. Permanency, aside from my tattoos, is much lacking across most of my life—from where I’ve lived to the relationships I’ve been in—and out of. But despite my hesitation to embrace commitment on an intellectual level, I know first-hand how dreadful affairs can be, because I have been both betrayers and betrayed.
“Human nature is such that monogamy is a really hard thing to achieve.” – Sienna Miller
We know what a physical affair is, making it easy to identify when someone is “cheating.” In most monogamous relationships, displays of physical affection or sexual relations with someone other than are your partner are proof that you’re having an affair. The standard can vary depending on the couple, but affectionate physical and any type of sexual contact with anyone other than your partner gets labeled as cheating.
But what about emotional affection and emotional intimacy? This is where it becomes more difficult and often confusing. Emotional attachments are murky and gray and are not as clear cut as one single action. When considering emotional affairs, I know I am not covering all the behaviors, but these are the six main warning signs I saw in my experience on both sides of the equation.
The 6 Main Warning Signs Of An Emotional Affair
1. Looking to Someone Else for Attention & Validation
If you are in a relationship you shouldn’t need, or want, another person to validate your emotional needs at an intimate level. The keyword there is intimate. I love my friends, and I have great friends of both sexes, but the support they provide for me is different than the support my partner provides. Even when interacting with my female friends, these connections are not crossing the line of validation or providing me the attention I should be receiving from my partner.
If you are in a relationship, you shouldn’t need to turn to someone besides your partner, especially someone attractive to you, as a means of feeling validation. You shouldn’t need to feel beautiful/important/significant only because someone else tells you that you. Even if your relationship is struggling, this isn’t a sign to begin finding attention elsewhere. It is a sign of needing to fix things instead of opening up to others or a sign to move on. Lacking emotional validation in your current relationship is not an excuse to find it elsewhere. Relying on another for the validation your partner once gave you is a slippery spiral.
2. Hiding Relationships from your Partner
I do not believe couples should share all their communications with each other. I don’t believe in reading your SO’s text, emails, or messages. But, there should be lines of respect. If you have to hide your interactions with another because of what you are saying or doing during these interactions, that is when it crosses the line into the murky area. If you have to hide from your partner the conversation you are having with another, whether it be deleting conversations for fear your partner would see them or hiding an entire period of hanging out, you may be having—or at least verging on—an emotional affair.
“If a man, who says he loves you, won’t tell you the details of a private conversation between him and another woman you can be sure he is not protecting your heart. He is protecting himself and the women he has feelings for. Wise women simply see things as they are, not as their low self-esteem allows.” ―
I understand the need for privacy, and sometimes we say things to our friends in frustration or question our relationships. But even when we vent, we should be venting things we are willing, though perhaps reluctant, to say to our partner. If you have to hide your interactions with another, you have one of two reasons. Either your relationship with your partner is unhealthy, or your relationship with the other person is unhealthy. I’m not saying you need to know everything your partner is saying or vice versa, but you shouldn’t need to hide the interactions you are having with another.