5 Signs of an emotional affair

An emotional affair is when an individual prefers to share their thoughts and feelings with another person other than their spouse. There are many reasons people have an emotional affair.

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  • An emotional affair is when an individual prefers to share their thoughts and feelings with another person other than their spouse. There are many reasons people have an emotional affair. These may include, but are not limited to, fear of intimacy or unresolved conflicts with a spouse or a spouse living apart due to a job (military, etc.), and lack of physical intimacy.

  • The following may be signs that a spouse is having an emotional affair

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  • Emotional Distance

  • There was a closeness in the relationship and now there is emotional distance that is unexplainable. A partner may indicate no reason for distance and desires not to reconnect.

  • A partner’s routine changes drastically

  • The partner begins to work late hours, goes to the gym for long periods of time, is evasive (or lies) about his whereabouts or inconsistent in his story about his whereabouts.

  • Long Hours on the computer or phone

  • When a partner is spending long hours during the day or night on the computer, phone texting, or away from home, this may be an indication of an emotional affair.

  • Speaks often about, or desires to be with a specified person

  • When a partner talks often about another individual (typically of the opposite sex where romantic feelings could take place) and indicates wanting to get together regularly with the person, this may be an indication of an emotional affair.

  • Alone with the opposite sex

  • Anytime a married individual is with a person of the opposite sex there is a greater chance of an emotional affair developing. If a partner has a habit of often being alone with a person of the opposite sex, this may be an indication of an emotional affair.

  • An emotional affair can happen to either partner in the couple relationship, and should be discussed openly to safeguard the relationship. Emotional affairs, in most cases, evolve into physical intimacy leading to possible divorce and loss of family life.

  • If you suspect your partner is having an emotional affair, there are several steps to take to stop the process from going further:

  • Communicate the suspicions

  • Discuss calmly and openly, without blame or anger, your suspicions with your spouse. Statements like this example maybe helpful: “I’m not sure what is happening here, but I feel more distant from you and you’re spending more time at work and less time with the family…is there something going on?” Follow up with positive affirmations of love and appreciation.

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  • Reconnect with your spouse

  • If a spouse is open about the emotional affair and willing to reconnect, recommend couples counseling or reading books together to help improve attachment in the relationship. Encourage a refocus on the relationship, and a change in routine to limit the involvement your spouse may be having with the other person. Stop all contact with the person a partner has been emotionally involved.

  • Strengthen Couple Relationship

  • Encourage new shared interests and hobbies. There are many activities couples can do to reconnect and gain greater emotional intimacy. Thereby decreasing the chances of further emotional intimacy with the other person.

  • Discuss Vulnerabilities

  • All individuals can be vulnerable to an emotional affair. Recognize this reality, and discuss ways to prevent this from happening by incorporating safeguards in the relationship.

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Nedra Toponce is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Couples Counseling Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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