10 Signs Of An Emotional Affair: Friendship vs Emotional Affair

You're talking and sharing details, and you start to wonder: Is this a friendship or an emotional affair? Here are 10 signs it's more insidious than you think.

By Tori L
10 Signs Of An Emotional Affair: Friendship vs Emotional Affair

10 Signs Of An Emotional Affair: Friendship vs. Emotional Affair

Emotional affairs are something that can be hard to identify. Things often start off as friendship, and often, from the outside, can be justified as "just friends." What makes your work husband or workout buddy someone you're having an emotional affair with is all in the way you're thinking about them. Since these thoughts and feelings usually evolve, you can find yourself in an emotional affair without really knowing how you got there. Since by definition, nothing physical has happened in an emotional affair, it's easy to dismiss them as not that big of a deal. However, your actual relationship can have a hard time surviving when you pull your emotional energy and support from your romantic relationship into a different relationship. Emotional affairs often start at work. It's easy to understand; we often spend more time at work than we do with our spouses. Friendship at work means having someone who understands all the ins and outs with whom you can talk and share inside jokes. This kind of relationship can help us decompress and handle the stress of the job, but how exactly can you identify when something that started off completely platonic moves into affair territory? Here are 10 red flags to look for as signs you are having an emotional affair.

What To Look For When You're With Them

You're Texting Them While With Your Significant Other

Where indeed? 🤔

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Are you texting your "work husband" even after you've left work? About nonwork-related things? While you're with your actual husband? Are you looking for excuses to talk to them, or are you glancing at your phone to see if they've reached out to you, especially when you're somewhere where you should be paying attention to those around you (out to dinner with your boyfriend, not sitting on the couch alone watching TV)? Giving them more attention and time than your spouse is a red flag of an emotional affair.

You're Complaining To Them About Your Significant Other

You've started telling them way more information about your marriage than your spouse would be comfortable with. This is especially true if that's all they know about them. You're always complaining, but never praising. Every relationship has ups and downs, and having the occasional complaint about your partner is normal, but if you're not sharing the highs as well as the lows, take some time to identify the reasons for that. If they know all the ugly details of your husband's grossest habits or your most recent fight, but don't know how amazing he was at surviving the weekend with your parents or the amazing dinner he cooked for you last night; you might be having an emotional affair.

They've Become Your Person

Your person is the first person you want to tell whenever something funny happens, vent to, and who you seek out when you need emotional support. If this description doesn't make you think of your husband, your friendship has turned into an emotional affair. Sharing our emotions and thoughts, both the good and the bad, increases the intimacy in our relationships and works to strengthen the bonds between you, so when you're sharing them with someone else, not only is your friend creating those bonds, your husband is missing out on the chance to.

Things Are Getting Flirty

Things have not moved into sex territory yet, recovery from that is a whole different post, but they have gotten intimate. You're sharing intimate, emotional details, and even if it's done with a wink and a joking attitude, you've crossed the line into flirting territory. You've already established some of those emotional bonds, the step into physical intimacy is not very far. You might be touching this person more than you normally would, a playful punch on the shoulder, messing up his hair, or laying your head on their shoulder. Even if it's not focused on sex, these subtle moves are flirting. Emotional affairs often become sexual, and this is the first of the warning signs that it might.

You're Going Out Of Your Way For Them

You know surviving the morning meeting without their favorite latte is impossible, so you just happen to pick one up on your way to work. You find yourself taking note of things they like and bringing them treats or doing nice things "just because." Watch out for motivations to go out of the way in a way you wouldn't do for just anyone in your office. Watch this sign especially if you find yourself throwing out receipts or wrappers to hide evidence from your coworkers or partner. Not only is this a sign for you or your spouse, but one of the signs that your whole office will pick up on.

You're Dressing Up For Them

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You find yourself looking just a little nicer than usual when you know you'll be seeing them. They mentioned they like your hair down and suddenly you're pulling out your ponytail as you walk in the building. Are you a watch and go kind of girl who suddenly finds herself sitting down for a blowout? This is especially true if you're coming home to your spouse to immediately take off your bra and throw on a ratty set of pajamas for the night. If you find yourself making more of an effort when you're getting ready, and it's not for the sake of your marriage, you might be having an emotional affair.

What To Look For With Your Spouse

You're Hiding Things From Your Spouse

You make sure your phone is locked. You downplay the amount of time you spend with this person, and you don't detail what you talk about with this person to your spouse. You're avoiding questions about who you've been going out to lunch with, and you make sure to throw out that Starbucks cup before you get home, so you don't have to answer questions. You might even tell yourself you're just trying to avoid a fight or that it's not a big deal, but feeling like you can't share things with your spouse is a concern. If you worry what they would think, or that your relationship surviving that reveal is not a sure thing, you're likely in the midst of an emotional affair.

You're Feeling Distant From Your Spouse

TD Jakes just said "Sisters, most men end up cheating with who you used to be... Brothers, she's still in there still that person part of the reason she's not coming out is because you don't treat her the way you used to. Brothers you need to make more deposits and sisters you need to be open. Sisters when youre closed there's no response and no response pushes him further away." ****************** I totally agree with everything he said. After marriage, most men and women get comfortable and don't do many of the things they did in the beginning of the courtship which is why it's important for couples to always take time to be with one another and have "intellectual intercourse" so their marriage can not just survive, but thrive! ***** I'd like to know your thoughts on this....

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Your marriage just doesn't feel as exciting to you. You don't look forward to going home at the end of the day or feel like putting it off. Relationships have highs and lows, and emotional affairs often start during a rough patch in a marriage. But when you're investing so much of your time and energy outside the marriage, the rough patch has no space or time to recover from what was likely a normal low in the relationship. Are you getting your emotional needs met somewhere else, and is it damaging the connection you once had? If so, you're likely in an emotional affair.

You're Fighting With Your Spouse More

You find yourself getting annoyed more easily at your spouse. You've started arguing over little things and finding it harder to let things go after an argument. Suddenly you find yourself assuming the worst of your spouse. They didn't do the dishes? Must they not care about you? The distance an emotional affair puts into a relationship, as well as underlying feelings of guilt and fear of being discovered, makes fights easier to start and harder to resolve.

Things To Look For In Yourself

You Find Yourself Comparing Your Spouse To Your "Friend"

Yes, no??? Maybe the stats are correct...#prosandcons

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You find yourself comparing everything in your marriage to your emotional affair, and often come up with your spouse lacking. Your work spouse or friend only sees you for limited amounts of time, and the relationship is fresh and new. You're complaining about your relationship to them all the time, making it easy to focus on all the negatives of your relationship instead of seeing the positive sides. It's hard for an actual spouse to compare to someone you don't live with and see in all their ugly details. If you find yourself thinking of your emotional affair and how you wish your spouse was more like them or would do things like them, your relationship is in danger.

So It Is An Emotional Affair — Now What?

So we've helped you identify that yes, you are having an emotional affair, what next? The good news is you haven't crossed the line into a sexual affair; the bad news is recovery from an emotional affair isn't easy, especially if you continue to see the person you had the affair with often. First, examine your actual relationship. Affairs, emotional or otherwise, don't happen in relationships where both people feel emotionally supported and fulfilled. Start to reconnect with your partner, emotionally and physically and remind each other of what brought you together in the first place. Take time to spend with your partner one on one, no kids, pets, TV, or other distractions. Communication is key to reconnecting and closing the distance that's present in your relationship. At the same time, work hard to distance yourself from the object of your emotional affair, putting your emotional energy and care back into the relationship that matters most. This may involve having some uncomfortable conversations with the person you've been having the emotional affair with. They may not agree that there's a problem, or that what you share needs to change, stand firm on your feelings if you want the affair to end.

So, Do I Confess?

It's up to you to decide if giving your spouse details would help or harm your relationship, but taking the time to look at why you were seeking emotional support from someone else and what you lacked in your relationship is important. Using that information to start a conversation about strengthening your relationship is the first step to getting things back on track. Emotional affairs are about getting your needs met. What did you need that you felt like your spouse wasn't giving you? Would you like more attention? More compliments? More laughter? Being able to identify those things this person gave you that your relationship hasn't will allow you to start recovering.

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