Emotional infidelity, or an affair of the heart, usually starts out innocently enough. It feels like a good friendship. You just click. They get you. You enjoy your time together – that’s not cheating, right?
But it soon becomes obvious that there’s something more going on. Maybe you find yourself sending late-night texts. Perhaps you dress up a little when you know you’re going to see them.
You start confiding deep, intimate thoughts to each other. There’s a spark, and you know this is more than friendship – even if you don’t want to admit it yet.
It’s easy to convince yourself that because there’s no sex involved, it’s not cheating. But an affair of the heart is still infidelity, and the secrets and lies still have the power to break your current relationship.
If you are still unsure if your friendship has turned into something more, here are some emotional affair signs:
You can not stop thinking about them.
You draw comparisons between this person and your partner.
You are sharing intimate details.
You are spending more and more time together.
You hide the relationship from your partner.
You get butterflies when you meet them.
You dress to impress.
You have started having dreams about them.
Intimacy with your partner is decreasing.
So, how to deal with infidelity and how to get over an emotional affair?
An emotional affair or emotional cheating feels thrilling, intoxicating, and addictive. It’s hard to let go of.
If you’ve been emotionally cheating in marriage, the first towards emotional infidelity recovery is stop guilt-tripping yourself.
You can’t go back and undo it. When dealing with betrayal, what you can do is work on recovering from it so you can rebuild your present relationship.
Try our 10 tips for surviving infidelity and for emotional infidelity recovery.
1. Be honest with your partner
The thing about extramarital affairs is that it’s tempting to sweep it under the carpet rather than hurt your partner, but don’t.
A survey conducted to explore how honest people are about their infidelity uncovered that no matter how honest a person might be about their infidelity to their partner, they always leave out certain key details.
Honesty is vital in a relationship, especially for an emotional affair recovery, and even though the truth will hurt, it’s better to build the rest of your relationship on the truth, not a lie.
To a certain extent, we can all understand the disappointment and sadness a person might feel if they have been cheated on.
Moreover, a study was conducted to provide a broad look at the losses and grief felt by the betrayed partner. But what about the person who was cheating? What about their loss and grief.
An emotional affair feels intoxicating and addictive and takes up a lot of your thoughts.
If you’re feeling guilty, you’ll resist letting yourself grieve, because you think you don’t deserve to. But the fact is, the other person was a big part of your life, and it’s ok to let yourself be sad for the loss of that connection.
Grieving also helps you understand why you were unfaithful-and what is it that you expect from your relationship.
4. See the difference between infatuation and love
Emotional infidelity might feel like love, but in most cases, it’s really just infatuation.
Take a step back and realize that real love is built on long term commitment and shared life, not a short but heady connection.
5. Work on rebuilding trust
Your partner will need time to learn how to trust you again, and that’s perfectly natural.
Show your commitment to mending your relationship by working on rebuilding trust with them. Ask what they need and how you can show them you can be trusted, and then give them as much time as they need to trust you again.
6. Analyze the reasons
For overcoming infidelity and preventing another incident, you’ll need to analyze why you were emotionally unfaithful.
What was it about them that attracted you? What did you feel was missing in your life or your relationship that made it easy to fall into an emotional affair?
Learn to recognize and take care of your emotional needs, so you don’t look towards someone else to do it.
Talk to them about ways to reconnect and let them set the pace. A romantic night out or in, a short vacation, or even a simple coffee date or home-cooked meal will help you feel closer again.
8. Get your feelings out
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions from guilt to grief to anger when you’re dealing with the fallout of an emotional affair.
For emotional infidelity recovery, work your feelings out physically with dance or exercise, write them out in a journal, or consider seeing a therapist to help you sort through them.
9. Find a healthier focus
Emotional infidelity gives you a focus, albeit an unhealthy one.
Try to find a healthier focus for your emotions and energy, such as volunteering with a community organization, learning a new hobby, or advancing your career.
The end of an emotional affair leaves a gap in your life – take the chance to fill it with something nurturing.
10. Practice self-care
Admitting to and ending emotional infidelity takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. You’ll feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions at times and might notice effects on your stress levels, sleep patterns, and appetite.
Take good care of yourself with healthy food, fresh air, exercise, good sleep, and spend time looking after yourself.
The end of an emotional affair usually comes with a heavy dose of guilt and regret. That doesn’t mean you should punish yourself – be gentle with yourself and recognize that you need healing too.
Only then can you move forward and put the affair behind you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.