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Cheating & Infidelity

The 5 “W’s” of Emotional Cheating

emotional cheating

Emotional cheating is when your partner shares time and energy channeling emotional comfort into someone else. It is physically nonsexual however there is a sexual undertone that makes this serious. Having a friend that your partner can connect and vent with is great but when they become the go-to person for comfort this is a concern as it can often lead to a love affair. Being aware of these 5 “W’s” can help keep your relationship happy and healthy.

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The Who

Partners lean-to emotional cheating with someone who is already a friend they have common interests with. If your partner had recent positive or negative news in their life who would they be most excited to tell? Emotional cheating is often with someone they have similar problems with and they can both vent about it. Any friends craving extra emotional comforts such as a recent divorcee, or a loss of some kind are common emotional cheaters. Remember its okay to have friends but how close are they getting?

The What

In the book: “The Emotional Affair” they describe emotional cheating as having three main qualities. There is a form of emotional intimacy – they express more of their inner thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and wins with them than they do with you. It is very concerning when they begin frequently sharing the disappointments in their relationship with a co-worker or friend they could be attracted to. There is secrecy, they don’t tell you about the lunch and coffee meetings they have or the frequent text messages. Sexual chemistry, there may not be physical touch but there is a form of sexual attraction.

The Where

Often times spouses emotionally connect with people they are already friends with. If they feel the need to go outside of who you may know this can become risky. The online world is filled with new people and some private messaging apps and websites are designed to help people cheat. Group counseling sessions and addiction groups have rules against connecting outside the group but we often hear about people dating and cheating with someone they met within these same types of groups. Anywhere the two transgressors are in groups that have common emotional strains and similar interests. Lifestyle choices like a bar, fitness gym and close family friends who reach out to your spouse just a little too frequently.

The When

Anytime your relationship has gone to the point they feel the need to fill the void with someone else emotionally. This can be marked by becoming frustrated easily with your partner and less interested in meaningful conversations. Loss of physical connection can signal when they may begin to emotionally cheat. Especially for those that would be too guilt-ridden for physically cheating but they feel confident that it’s not boundary-breaking to emotionally cheat. They might not even be aware that emotional cheating is a form of cheating. Confronting your partner about emotional cheating needs to be well thought out. Gather facts, be willing to compromise but know what your bottom line is, and prepare to deal with your partner’s defensiveness.

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The Why

If you found yourself being less emotionally available, due to stress or focusing on something or someone else like work or another family member this could cause your partner to seek someone to connect with. A lack of communication is a sign of not being emotionally available, not being available for comfort, and consoling creates a void in the relationship. Often times the emotional cheating partner is looking for more of something, more time, more love, more positive praise. They might also be looking for less criticism, less complaining, less nitpicking. They find what they need emotionally from the friend and not you, that’s why they go to them, it’s okay at first but not for the long term.


-Author and speaker Tony Robbins was asked: “What destroys intimate relationships?” He replied “focusing on yourself, the more you focus on yourself the more you distance your relationship. If you do what you do at the beginning of the relationship at the end of the relationship there won’t be an end”
If you found yourself being less emotionally available, focusing on yourself a lot more than your partner, this could cause your partner to seek someone else to connect with leading them to emotional cheating and possibly physically cheating. Express your love just as you did at the start of the relationship and remind them how they treated you at the start, you will both be happier.

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