“I know something is different. She seems distracted and happy and sad all in the same time. At first I thought it was something I was doing. But now I think she is messing around with some other man. I am getting these little clues causing me to wonder if my wife is having an emotional affair. She is always doing her hair and makeup a lot more than before. She has lost weight. She won’t hold my gaze. My wife use to initiate sex a lot. It’s not happening now. Maybe she isn’t cheating on me. But something is off. Maybe it’s just an emotional affair like I said. But I am not sure anymore and I have to think there must be a way to find out what is going on without breaking open our marriage.”
These were the thoughts of a guy who was searching for answers as he could feel his wife slowly slipping away from him.
Was he right or wrong about his fear that she was having an emotional affair?
It turned out she was pulling away from him and there was someone new in her life. Her sense of being neglected had led her to an affair of the heart.
So let’s talk about how some married women get caught up in their feelings for another man, gradually slipping into an emotional affair.
After all, that is how it usually happens, right?
Your wife feels neglected and before you know it, she is prone to having an affair of some kind.
Well, it turns out that things are often far more complicated than one might think.
There is no cookie cutter way a woman will respond to neglect or any other problem that may exist in the marriage.
Let’s talk about some ways in which emotional affairs can develop.
In actuality, affairs of the heart can unfold in many different ways.
For example, a woman can strike up a friendship at work or at some other local venue. Perhaps it starts off very innocently. Your wife can become acquainted with this other guy, then they become more friendly and a relationship begins to take form.
So when does such a relationship cross over into too much emotional intimacy?
This is not the first time I have written about this topic.
If you feel certain that your wife or girlfriend has crossed the line and is cheating on you, then you should take a look at this article a wrote a while back….
Most often your wife may not have a premeditated desire to strike up a relationship with the thought that it could lead to an emotional affair.
But for various reasons, your wife can become quite close (too close) with another man given all the right circumstances.
Usually there are some telltale triggering events.
Perhaps you and your wife are having issues in the marriage. So she might be looking for an outlet to express her discontent.
Maybe this other man provides her emotional support which is lacking in your marriage.
Or it could be that there is a high level of chemistry and compatibility between your wife and this other guy.
But whatever causes this relationship to go beyond the normal acquaintance or friendship level, it’s existence can be damaging to the marriage in subtle ways.
But before we examine an emotional affair (or what is also called emotional cheating) further, let’s make sure we are in agreement about what it really means.
Is Your Wife Really Having An Emotional Affair or Love Connection?
An emotional affair as potentially experienced by your wife is when she feels emotionally and intimately attached to another man.
And emotional affair can also take on the form of an exceptionally close attachment due to a shared intellectual pursuit.
It can involve a teacher/student type of relationship or a form of mentorship.
Or it can involve a shared fascination with a certain topic or activity.
Now in all these cases, the things I have just described could fall well within the normal range of how a man and women would interact.
But in those cases in which these two people are spending a great deal of non work related time together or find themselves thinking about each frequently, the lines of what is normal and what is excessive begins to blur.
And therein lies the potentiality of problems for your wife’s relationship with you, particularly if there is weakness in the marriage and if her newfound emotional attachment with this other man is giving her great pleasure and fulfillment.
But with all that said, it is more common for spousal emotional cheating to involve two people who are very close. Though not lovers in the traditional sense, these two people share intimate conversations, secrets, worries, or desires.
They click when together and seek opportunities to be with each other more which accelerates the strengthening of their bond.
In fact, thinking of their relationship as a bond forged by a powerful need to be together to discuss things and experience things as a couple is a good way of understanding the chemistry found in most emotional affairs.
Sometimes an emotional affair is a precursor to a physical affair.
If your wife is drawn to be with another man because she feels emotionally attached and if this bond is strengthening, then the next level up could be affection shared in the form of touching or other physical acts.
While there may not be any overt sexual activity between your wife and the other man, an emotional affair typically involves two people who care for each other deeply and may very well express love and appreciation for each other.
Acts of kindness and doing things for each other often mark such a relationship.
Usually when people think of intimacy, they jump right into the mindset that sex is involved.
They assume that two lovers have slept together to be intimately attached. But that is not always the case. And that is why an emotional affair of the heart typically does not involve the pure physical act of sex, whether it be intercourse, extended kissing, or foreplay.
If your wife is cheating on you with another man, but has not taken him as her lover, there is still a lot to be concerned about.
It is one thing for a wife to enter into an affair with another man, sneaking off to hotel rooms or other locations to have sex. Such extramarital acts certainly can be destructive to a marriage.
She may care about this other man and their sexual liaisons may satisfy certain carnal desires. They may even be exploring their brewing romance to the fullest and the sex act consummates some of their wildest fantasies.
Or it is possible your wife is simply making love with this other man because she has been drawn into an affair against her best intentions. Obviously, there are many ways in which wives find their way into the arms of another man.
But it is a different dynamic if your wife gains pleasure, fulfillment and shared intimacy with another guy without surrendering her body.
While this type of affair may be different in form, the consequences can be harmful to your marriage, even more so if she has truly opened up her heart to this other guy.
So what are the typical things a guy wishes to know about this subject of emotional cheating?
As you can imagine, I get a whole lot of different inquires around this hot topic.
“Look Chris, I know she has male friends. What I want to know is if she is thinking of getting involved more deeply. She seems really preoccupied with this one guy, spending far too much time together. So what are the warning signs of emotional cheating in a relationship? And how do I deal with my spouse’s emotional affair if indeed it is happening. Do emotional affairs ever stop without the husband intervening? Is this going to be one of those situations where once it happens I am doomed? Will I be left picking up the pieces wondering how to get over her emotional cheating?
Do you have any advice on texting and emotional affairs. This seems to be her primary way of reaching out to this other man. She keeps saying it’s just a work thing, but when does work friendship turn into emotional infidelity? Do you have some kind of checklist of what to look for when trying to pick up on signs of emotional affairs at work?
Hey Chris, what are the signs that point to one’s wife getting too close to another man? She gets really emotional when I delve into it and tells me I am paranoid, but I read that a sure-fire sign of infidelity in a woman is when they get all emotional when questioned about having an affair.
Is there a way to tell if your wife is cheating based on Facebook? She is active on it and seems preoccupied with one guy in particular. Look, part of me knows something is going down. I don’t know if sex is involved but tell me what to look for. What are the physical signs your wife is emotionally cheating on you? I read all these articles about classic warnings signs of infidelity or adultery, but I really don’t know what to believe because you say sometimes the wife may not show any clear signs.
Look, I need to know how to deal with wife’s emotional cheating. I just found out from my wife that she is falling for another guy. She said she wanted to be honest and that there has been no sex. She keeps telling me she is going through a confusing period in her life and needs time to work it out. Should I forgive her emotional cheating and then what? I am not sure if I can survive much loner knowing she is emotionally cheating on me.
Chris, can you tell me how do emotional affairs typically end? She said its over and that she learned her lesson. Is it that easy or should I expect it could be revived or she might get lonely for this other guy? She says that she is completely over it and does not need to go to counseling. My wife says that she was just temporarily emotionally attached to her work friend. I feel so stupid. Here I am left coping with her emotional affair. I am not sure if I can trust her.
Dealing With Emotional Affairs
So what do all of those questions I get from clients have in common?
While they had numerous concerns, the main areas they were exploring dealt with whether their wife was emotionally attached to another man and if so what should they do.
When a guy asks me to help them with their situation I like to first challenge their assumptions.
About half of the time, it turns out that these men’s wives were NOT having an emotional affair.
I won’t say that all these men were borderline paranoid or obsessed with their wife’s habits, but it is not unusual for a man to suspect his wife of cheating on him, particularly if he thinks she has been spending too much time around a certain guy.
In some of these cases, the husband was afraid or hesitant to even talk about his fears with is wife. He went right along suspecting her and convincing himself that she was secretly in love with another man, when in reality, his wife was just being her normal, extroverted and friendly self.
So I usually discuss with my clients my definition of what is an emotional affair and the different forms it can take.
I also warn them even if their wife is emotionally cheating, it may not be revealed by signs or behaviors she may exhibit.
I also talk to my clients about the way emotional cheating typically unfolds.
It doesn’t simply come into existence, like poof, suddenly your wife is giving up her entire heart to another man.
When it happens, it more often happens very gradually and usually there is a series of triggering events that helps the affair come into maturity.
Sometimes these triggering events occur at home within your marriage. Perhaps the two of you have argued a lot recently.
Possibly your wife is dissatisfied with her sex life. So the fantasy bond she has created in her mind involving another man comes into fruition.
Sometimes, the trigger is your wife’s budding belief that her marriage is not fulfilling and her needs are not being met.
But these so-called emotional cheating triggers don’t always happen as a result of problems within your marriage.
Sometimes these triggers happen in the workplace or in a social setting outside of the house, even when your relationships seems fine. We can never been certain of all the things that lead to two people colliding with each other in heart and spirit.
Triggers that can lead your wife to fall into an emotional affair can also happen on a social media platform.
Or the trigger can be linked to a previous romance your wife had before you were married.
That’s right. Married women can still fall for their old flame given all the right circumstances.
Whatever might be the trigger or triggering events, the connection between your wife and this other man will usually unfold somewhat naturally and slowly over time.
An emotional affair is difficult to spot in the early stages because quite frankly, in many of these cases, your wife is probably not even aware that she is knocking on the door of potential emotional cheating.
It is only later, after your wife and this other guy have spent a good deal of meaningful time together, experiencing things and talking about topics they care and agree about, that the intimate affair takes shape.
This is when one can sometimes pick up on certain signs. This is when you might notice certain hints that your wife is emotionally involved with another guy.
I covered some of these signs in an article I wrote a while back. Give it a read!
My Wife Is Emotionally Cheating on Me. Should I Leave Her?
The short answer is absolutely not.
It is not unusual for a married man or woman to draw very close to someone outside of the marriage.
It doesn’t always mean it is unhealthy. And in some very mature and successful marriages, there are cases in which one of the spouses can end up having a very close and intimate, but non sexual relationship with another person.
Of course, it’s a different story if this relationship outside of the marriage threatens the quality of the marriage in any way or reveals a reasonable potential for the emotional connection to grow into a physical, intimate attachment.
Upon discovering the existence that your wife is emotionally connected with another man, the first step is to avoid being intolerant and blaming.
Seek first to understand why your wife was drawn into the emotional affair.
Is it due to some problem in your marriage?
Does your wife have difficulty drawing boundaries with other men?
Talk about it openly. Encourage your wife to share her feelings, without fear of repercussions or reprisal.
Listening is important. What is also important is being able to describe to your wife your feelings and concerns about the whole matter.
Couples will stumble.
It is the nature of relationships.
If you look past your own hurt feelings and avoid adverse and ugly reactions and genuinely seek to understand what happened, it improves the chances that you and your wife can work together to repair the marriage, seeking solutions and affecting changes in behavior.
But Chris, what if she is not sorry for what she did? What if she wants to keep on having her secret special friend so long as no sex is involved?
This is when things get more difficult.
If your wife is unable to acknowledge that her emotional affair is damaging the relationship and that she has a right to having a close intimate, male friend, then it is unlikely this problem will go away by itself.
If you are unable to reason with your wife and gain her understanding that her emotional affair is a form of cheating and is risking the marriage, then I would ask you to go back to the drawing board and double-check to make sure your are not overreacting to what could be otherwise a respectable and healthy friendship.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this other man in your wife’s life creating emotional distance in your marriage?
- Do you and your wife argue about her spending time talking and being with this other man?
- Is there any evidence of your wife and her male friend sharing intimacy in the form of holding hands, excessive hugging, gifts that are too personal, etc.?
- Is your wife hiding facts about her relationship with this other man? Is your wife harboring secrets about the time she spends with this other guy?
- Has your wife changed her personality? Is she changing the way she dresses? Has your wife changed her look?
If after taking in all the information, you still feel convinced that your wife has fallen into a pattern of emotional cheating and if multiple conversations about this problem has not provided a remedy, then ideally you should both agree to getting counseling.
Sometimes a 3rd party can help your you and your wife understand what is truly unfolding in the marriage and what can be done to make things better.