Ending An Emotional Affair: How To Move On With Your Life

Updated December 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

It can feel good to have a connection with someone outside of your relationship. People need to be able to have friends to talk to and it's also nice to just be able to go out with other adults. There's a difference between having a friendship with someone and having an emotional affair, though. An emotional affair often rides a fine line between being a friendship and infidelity. If you have been going through an emotional affair of sorts with someone that you know, then you might be wondering how you can end it. It isn't always easy to stop seeing someone, but you don't want to lose your spouse either.

Emotional Affairs Can Indicate A Larger Issue
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You can learn how to end an emotional affair so that you can finally move on with your life. This situation has likely thrown your life into a chaotic state. You might be confused about what is going to be the right thing to do in this situation. Read on to get more information about emotional affairs. It should give you something to think about and hopefully, it'll help you to move on with your life.

What Is An Emotional Affair?

An emotional affair is a friendship that has developed into something more. Married individuals likely have many friends that they turn to for companionship. Sometimes married people also have friends of the opposite sex and this isn't necessarily bad. You can have a friendship with someone without it being inappropriate in any way. The problem is that it is also possible to become emotionally attached to someone on a level that isn't appropriate when you're married.

For example, you could start spending more time with a friend than you do with your spouse. If this is coupled with you sharing intimate details and moments with this person, then it might be an emotional affair. These types of affairs involve having an intimate relationship with someone that is non-sexual. You might turn to this person for love and support. Normally, you might turn to your spouse for this type of support. Having someone like this in your life diminishes the significance of your spouse in some ways.

These relationships can be very threatening to your spouse. Your spouse might think nothing of it initially, but this relationship could become more problematic over time. As your connection with this person deepens, it will start to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. This could lead to your marriage being put in a very rocky position. You might even start fighting with your spouse and then turning to this other person for emotional support afterward.

How Can You Tell When Things Have Gone Too Far?

Being able to recognize when things have gone too far isn't always easy. You might think that your connection with someone is purely platonic and normal. However, a normal friendship can turn into an emotional affair over time. You might discover that you have more of a connection to this person than you initially realized. It could lead you to want to be around them more often and you might even feel like you're in a type of relationship with this person.

If your spouse is worried about your friendship with someone else, then there is a chance that the relationship might be inappropriate. You need to ensure that you are keeping things purely platonic and normal between you and your friends. Some people cross that line innocently at first, but they then start to explore the relationship more. If you feel the need to keep your interactions with a friend secret from your spouse, then it's likely that you're having an emotional affair. This is different from a spouse having wandering eyes without acting on it due to the emotional connection that is involved.

Can An Emotional Affair Lead To Cheating?

Yes, an emotional affair can potentially lead to cheating. Sometimes people who are having an emotional affair will have a sexual attraction to one another. You might recognize the attraction and you could even discuss it with this individual. Some people just experience sexual tension with another person without talking about it. Either way, this has the potential to lead to actual cheating down the line. If you keep bonding with this person and spending time together, then you might be tempted to act on your impulses at some point.

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Not all emotional affairs lead to cheating, though. Some people simply enjoy the thought of it and they would never be able to bring themselves to act on their baser desires. Whatever the situation is, it's plain to see that these types of relationships feel inappropriate. If you're in a committed and monogamous marriage, then you should try not to have these emotional affairs with others. They can lead to hurt feelings or much worse.

How Should You End An Emotional Affair?

Ending an emotional affair might feel very difficult. It can feel like losing an important friend that you have come to cherish. In all likelihood, you won't even be able to remain friends with this individual. Your connection with one another has proven to be a problem for your marriage. If you're sexually attracted to this person, then it's even less appropriate for you to be spending time with them alone. Many people feel like an emotional affair is similar to cheating except that the infidelity is only occurring inside their hearts.

Moving forward with your life is possible once you decide to end the emotional affair. You need to be honest with the person that you have been developing this bond with. Tell him or her that you feel that this relationship has become inappropriate. Admit your feelings and tell them that you very much love your spouse. Use that as your reason for not being able to see them any longer.

Your friend might object to your ending of the friendship. You might have a hard time not talking to this person any longer. It could cause heartache that is not too dissimilar from breaking up with a lover. This just shows how inappropriate and serious this connection between you two was. The best way to end an emotional affair is to be honest and to stop seeing the other person entirely.

You should also consider whether or not you want to remain in your marriage. There are situations where people seek out emotional affairs due to things that are missing in their marriages. Your marriage might not be satisfying, or you might feel as if your spouse doesn't truly love you. No one has to stay in a loveless marriage if they don't want to. Divorce is an option, but you can also work on fixing your marriage if you do love your spouse.

Emotional Affairs Can Indicate A Larger Issue

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Is an Emotional Affair The Same As Cheating?

Whether or not an emotional affair is the same as cheating is up to interpretation. Some spouses might feel that an emotional affair is a betrayal of their trust that is on par with traditional infidelity. Others might see it as a troubling situation, but they might not consider it to be cheating. Your partner will have to decide how they feel about things. You should admit that you have been spending too much time with this person and then tell your spouse that it is going to stop.

Emotional affairs can certainly cause similar problems when compared to cheating. It can harm your relationship and it can make your spouse feel as if they have been betrayed. You might feel the need to apologize and to try to make things up to your spouse. Moving forward together is only going to be possible if your spouse is willing to forgive you. Your spouse will likely want assurances that you won't see the person that you were having an emotional affair with ever again, too.

Moving Forward Together

Moving forward as a married couple is not easy when you are just coming out of an emotional affair. You might even feel very emotionally vulnerable due to exposing your connection with this friend. Your spouse might be distrustful of you for a while and you'll need to work on fixing things. There are likely many problems in your relationship that need to be addressed. Your desire to seek out love and support from a friend shows you that your marriage is less than perfect.

Talk to your spouse about what has happened and try to commit to walking toward the future together. If you love each other, then you will be able to overcome this situation. You just need to be prepared to confront difficult subjects without attacking each other. It might be best for you to get some help from professionals who know how to guide you through the process.

Contact Online Couples Counselors For Help

Your need for an emotional connection with someone else might stem from problems that exist in your marriage. You should never blame your husband or wife for what has occurred. It's crucial to acknowledge what has happened and to move on. After you have ended your emotional affair, you will need to work on strengthening your marriage. This might not be easy to accomplish by yourself. This is why it is highly recommended that you seek out the help of online couples' counselors.

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Online couples counseling is a perfect way for you to get over issues that are harming your marriage. These professionals can help you to work on your communication while also addressing problems that are keeping you from connecting properly. They can help you at any time that you decide to reach out. Best of all, this is a very discreet form of counseling that will allow you to get help without advertising it to the world. If you want to work on saving your marriage, then these online therapists will be great allies. They'll always be there for you and it's also cost-effective.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it Common for Emotional Affairs to Happen With Old High School Friends?

Oftentimes, an emotional affair can begin when you reconnect with an old high school acquaintance. Maybe it was someone you dated in high school, or a person who you had feelings for, but never dated for whatever reason.

Sometimes, you reconnect with an old high school acquaintance and realize they've changed too much for your taste. However, there are times where you realize you still have feelings for them, and you can end up putting your current relationship in danger.

What About Emotional Affairs and Social Media?

Social media is a breeding ground for emotional affairs, and the morality of it can be blurred. For example, if you're having an emotional affair with someone in real life, you may feel guilty. However, over a screen, those sensations of feeling guilty may be dulled. If you live far away from the person you're having that affair with, you may think it's nothing to care about.

It's important to realize that digital or not, it's still an emotional affair, and even if you don't feel guilty, you could be hurting your spouse.

Is a Social Media Relationship a Real Relationship?

You may wonder if a social media relationship is a real relationship. While you may not be meeting them in real life any time soon, if you're having deep conversations with them day to day, it may be a sign of a real, intimate relationship.

It's important for you to be mindful of your relationship with the people you have online so you don't cross into the emotional affair territory.

Rebuilding Trust After An Emotional Affair: How Do You Do it?

Rebuilding trust after an emotional affair can be extremely difficult. Even if it wasn't physical infidelity, your trust you've built up with your partner is shattered. That's an interesting part about relationships, isn't it? It takes a long time to build trust, but a short time to destroy it. Here are some steps you can take.

  • Stop the offending activity immediately. Block the person you're having an emotional affair with and never speak to them again.
  • Own up to your mistakes. Don't try to downplay it or shift the blame. Admit you made a mistake.
  • Show you're willing to change. This is something that can take a long time for you to do, but stay committed to it.
  • Truly listen to your partner when they're talking about their feelings. Never try to dismiss it, especially in a vulnerable part of the relationship.

What Related Posts Should I Check Out?

If you're looking for more posts on Regain about infidelity, one you should check out is the article about why people cheat. It can help give you some insight into the psyche of a cheater.

Why Should I Not Trust The Privacy Policy of An Affair Site?

Some people think that an affair website will allow them emotionally or physically cheat while doing it in a discreet matter. However, this is not the case at all. Many of those affair websites have poor security, meaning that your email address, credit card info, name, and other sensitive data can be leaked at any time.

Also, by reading the privacy policy, you may discover that the rights reserved are the rights of the site and none for you. That site can be leaking or selling your personal data. Besides being unethical, those sites are not worth it in the privacy area, either.

How Long Do Emotional Affairs Last?

There is no time limit on how long you may be involved in an emotional affair. Some people are involved in an extra marital affair for a short amount of time, and others engage in a long term relationship with someone outside of their marriage. It is not uncommon to spend more time with this person that you are involved in emotional infidelity than the person that you are married.

While most people see a marriage as a committed relationship, not all happily married people spend time with just their spouse. People involved in an emotional affair have an intimate yet not physical connection with someone other than the person they are married to and don’t feel guilt and fear all the time.

How Do I End an Emotional Affair?

Ending an emotional affair can be challenging, but is definitely easier than getting a divorce. What makes ending an emotional affair hard is that you have formed an emotional bond with another person and may have engaged in a romantic relationship. If the relationship had sex involved, it could be even harder to walk away from the affair type of relationship.

If you decide that you cannot live a lie anymore and want to resume having a single committed relationship, it’s essential to make that know with the people involved in your emotional affair. This may include friends of the other person or no one at all, but cutting all ties is necessary if you have any chance of fixing your primary relationship. 

Do Emotional Affairs Turn into Love?

Sometimes. If you spend more time with the person you are having an emotionally committed relationship with, you may feel like you are falling in love with them. If you no longer love your current partner and are making excuses to see the person you are newly in love with, it is in your best interest to come clean with your spouse.

Yes, you will be called a cheating spouse. However, if the relationship with your partner is essentially over and you want to start a full time committed relationship with the person you are having an emotional affair with, it is best to tell your spouse.

For emotional affairs that never turn into love, most are purely a type of relationship that makes you happy for a short period of time during the day or week. While spending more time with someone outside of your marriage might be considered an emotional affair and making it a form of cheating to some, it is still not a committed relationship. 

Can a Marriage Survive an Emotional Affair?

If you have been withdrawing from your spouse and the relationship with your partner is no longer what it was, your marriage may not survive an emotional affair; it is barely hanging on by a thread as it stands. Making excuses for staying away from home to see the person you are having an emotional affair with only makes it harder to keep a marriage together. Calls texts and private messages put even more strain on the marriage.

If the only reason you have not separated from your spouse is you are worried about child custody and child support payments, you need to evaluate your situation carefully. Family law is different from state to state, and you may be surprised what child custody agreement is should you finally seek a divorce.

How Do Emotional Affairs Start?

Signs of an emotional affair starting is when you casually flirt with someone at work or at the store from time to time. Maybe it’s the waitress at your favorite sports bar or the secretary in your department's office. Flirting, talking at lunch, or after work for an extended amount of time may follow. If you text each other in the evening or at night, even when your spouse is in the room, an emotional affair may be blooming. When you find yourself thinking about the other person or smiling when you see them approaching, these are also signs that an emotional affair has started.

Are Emotional Affairs Common?

Emotional affairs happen more often than you may think. While you might try to affair proof your marriage, you need to trust that your partner is holding up their end of the bargain. While not all affairs include sexual relations, most all sexual relations start with an emotional or physical attraction. Once an emotional affair becomes a sexual affair, family law views the encounters much differently.  

Why Do Emotional Affairs Hurt So Much?

Emotional affairs hurt because the person that you are married to is sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with someone other than you.

What Constitutes an Emotional Affair?

An emotional affair is one where you spend time with someone other than your spouse. This is not the same as a sexual affair where physical intimacy takes place.

Should You Tell Your Spouse About Emotional Affair?

It depends. If you do not want any secrets between you and your spouse, it is often best to tell them that you engaged in an emotional affair with another person. However, if you know that it will devastate your spouse and potentially end your marriage, you may want to keep the emotional affair to yourself.

A sexual affair is different from an emotional one. Emotions tend to come from seeing something in a person that is lacking in your relationship, where a sexual relationship is a physical engagement. Sexual relations are views as adultery in family law. 

Depending on the family law where you live, a sexual affair could cost you your entire family, with child custody going solely to the mother. Use caution when considering having any type of affair. It can ruin many lives.

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