Unlike physical cheating, an emotional affair can never be blamed on alcohol or one poor decision. You just can’t foster a deep attachment with someone overnight. Emotional cheating typically takes weeks or months of interaction to develop, and it involves mutual or unrequited feelings which don't just go away after a night of irresponsible sex.
There’s no fixed definition for emotional cheating, because it’s a concept that keeps evolving. Each couple is an expert in their own relationship and gives them the freedom to decide what constitutes as emotional betrayal based on the rules and boundaries they’ve set for themselves.
Emotional cheating as having three components: an emotional connection, secrecy, and an element of eroticism.
They’re not as interested in sex.
So your other half no longer initiates in the bedroom or appears disconnected during the act? That's a possible cause for concern, particularly if you're unaware of any major issues currently going on in their life.
Whether it’s intercourse, kissing, or holding hands, physical intimacy is a huge and vital part of a successful relationship, and any sudden change in that department may be a sign of a bigger problem.
In certain cases, an emotional affair can be a gateway to sex because it’s a logical next step. However, for some, emotional cheating might be purely about how another person makes them feel (and thus a physical relationship isn't on the table). But either scenario is, obviously, really hurtful.
Sometimes when a person is emotionally cheating but they haven't made any physical moves, the frequency of sex within their committed relationship can increase.
They get super defensive with you.
Whether they're picking arguments or not, if they jump onto the defense every time you get into a touchy conversation, that's a sign they might be hiding something. If they take things a step further and start making you feel like the person in the wrong for having suspicions, they could be teetering into a type of manipulative emotional abuse called gaslighting.
Gaslighting isn't always a sign of cheating (emotional or otherwise), but people rely on the tactic when they want to make you feel guilty instead of themselves. So try to notice if they call you "crazy," dismiss any civil attempts at talking about the state of your relationship, and/or regularly turn accusations or negative feelings around on you.
You start to lie or keep secrets
This usually entails lying by omission. If you purposely do not tell your spouse about your talks, meetings, lunches, texts and phone calls, alarm bells should be ringing.
Are you deleting messages from your phone or do you deny the communication you have with him/her when asked? If you are hiding things or lying when you know deep down that the behavior is not okay. Would you be mortified if your spouse heard a taped conversation between you two?
Begins with “Hello,” and ends with sex, lies, anger, tears, and finally, silence. A portion of these relationships can be traced back to emotional infidelity. Over 50 percent of affairs begin in the workplace, with evidence suggesting that online cheating may be overtaking the office as the springboard for most opportunities.
You should never ignore red flags, as they are a distress call that your relationship is in trouble. Remember, in the beginning you still have the home-court advantage. There is a reason why your partner is in your life; they have not completely abandoned you. Open up to them. Ask them what is missing in the relationship that is urging them to look elsewhere for it.