Simply because your partner or spouse isn’t having sex with someone else doesn’t mean they are not cheating on you. Just because their reasoning is that they are doing nothing wrong, doesn’t mean they are right.
They most likely say something like… “You know, he/she is my best friend”, or “they understand the work and all the pressure I’m under”, or …
… It doesn’t really matter which way they explain it. It all amounts to the same thing. So let’s put a definition to it for the sake of clarity.
My definition is simply a relationship with someone, outside the marriage, that is emotionally intimate (in an inappropriate way) but excludes the physical act of intercourse. Sexual feelings frequently being suppressed in order to explain away the infidelity as some sort of ‘special’ friendship.
It is also fairly common that the husband or wife having the emotional affair is fooling themselves, possibly to the extent of being completely convinced, that a friendship is all that it is. After all, they’re not physically involved, there’s no sex, so there’s no cheating… Right? That relieves them of any feelings of guilt.
So, is this emotional cheating harmless?
Well, normally they start off as being harmless because a lot of emotional affairs begin as a simple friendship. But, at some point (perhaps even from the outset) there appears a feeling of real connection.
From that point on it is common for your spouse’s emotional intimacy with you to diminish as it increases with the other person. It’s almost like it is transferred from you to them.
When your spouse or partner has an emotionally intimate relationship with another person, that level of personal attachment WILL erode the connection in your marriage.
The emotional intimacy that should be shared only between you both has ceased. That link has been broken. Your partner still has their emotional link, with this other person, but what emotional attachment do you have?
At best, it’s a one-way link from you to your partner, but it’s not being returned.
In so many ways, an emotional affair is worse than a purely physical or sex based affair (one with little, or no, emotional involvement) where the boundaries are clear and confined. It’s purely for the sexual gratification.
But emotional affairs often have no boundaries (other than the absence of sex) as to what can be shared and discussed, it is not confined to discussing their innermost thoughts and desires, but can include details of their partner, their family and friends, their work, in fact every aspect of their lives.
It is this degree of intimacy that is so harmful, and not just because it is a very real betrayal, but because it eats into the very foundations of the marriage. Loyalty has gone, even though your spouse will reason that they’ve remained faithful because sex did not take place.
Besides, because they are not engaging in a physically sexual way doesn’t mean that sexual desire between them does not exist. It probably does, even if they choose to ignore it or even deny it to themselves.
Most often, if nurtured, an emotional affair will, at some point, become sexual in nature. Once this happens, the marriage will be under severe stress if not a complete marriage breakup and divorce.
The emotional experience will become quite intense and difficult for them to ignore or overcome.
Of course, this is the emotional intensity that rightly belongs to you…
… If you rekindle the passion and desire in your relationship you can put an end to emotional affairs for good.
I hope this post goes some way to answering your question: Are Emotional Affairs Acceptable?