What Defines Cheating?

Cheating and emotional affairs

When One Partner Feels Uneasy About the Other’s Friendship

Couples often find themselves in murky waters when one partner feels uncomfortable about the other’s close friendship with someone who could potentially become a romantic interest. This can lead to heated arguments about the definition of cheating and whether physical contact is necessary for it to occur. These debates rarely resolve anything, leaving the partner who feels threatened feeling even more upset and the partner in the other relationship feeling judged and defensive.

So, what’s the solution? Let’s delve into the concept of an emotional affair.

Defining an Emotional Affair

There are three key components to an emotional affair:

  1. A one-on-one relationship with someone who could become a romantic partner. Even if you wouldn’t act on it, the possibility of developing strong feelings exists for both you and the other person.
  2. A subtle sexual charge. While the relationship might not be primarily sexual, there’s an undeniable attraction that you enjoy. If you allow yourself to dwell on it, this charge could intensify.
  3. Secrecy. You refrain from disclosing the full extent of the relationship to your spouse. You either withhold information or carefully edit your story.

If You’re the Accused:

If your partner suspects you of having an emotional affair, this is the moment for complete honesty. Come clean about everything, including the reasons why you kept this person a secret from your spouse.

If You’re in the Questionable Relationship:

If you’re reading this and realizing your friendship might be heading down a dangerous path, take immediate action. Gradually scale back the communication. Remember, you don’t need to be dramatic about it. Many adult friendships naturally fade as life takes over. Let this be one of those cases.

If You’re the Accuser:

If your spouse remains defensive and insists they’re right while accusing you of paranoia, consider seeking marriage counseling together. This conflict likely indicates deeper issues beyond the potential emotional affair. You and your spouse might be struggling with trust issues. You’re feeling vulnerable and unsafe, while your spouse feels defensive and treated like a suspicious teenager. If the conflict persists, a professional therapist can help you untangle these complex issues.

Are You’re Being Misunderstood:

If you’re wrongly accused of an emotional affair (perhaps your spouse has a history of jealousy towards anyone of the another sex you work with), it’s in your best interest to help them feel more secure. This might involve seeking help from a therapist. Your spouse might be grappling with their own vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. Additionally, there might be other aspects of your behavior that contribute to trust issues in your marriage.

Seeking Professional Help

Regardless of the specific situation, couples therapy can be instrumental in preventing further damage to your relationship. Simply saying “trust me” isn’t enough when your spouse is deeply troubled by another relationship.

If one of you is unsure about the future of the marriage, seeking specialized resources or consulting a Discernment Counselor might be the next best step. Remember, open communication and a willingness to address underlying issues are crucial for navigating these delicate situations and rebuilding trust within your relationship.