Signs of Emotional Infidelity in a Relationship

Infidelity has been around as long as men and women were falling in love and swearing to remain true. But while the traditional meaning of cheating was being sexually involved with a person other than your partner, now there is the concept of an emotional affair. In these times when spatial distances are easily bridged by Skyping and chatting, affairs can be possible even without any physical connection. Then there is the good o’ “we’re just friends” model where one can have an affair with a co-worker, a high-school pal or a previous neighbor without being sexually involved. All these are instances of emotional affairs. And while the lack of sexual component may make an emotional affair appear less a threat, the effects can be equally damaging to a relationship. If you are worried something similar happening to your relationship as well, here are a few signs which can put you wise to what is happening behind your back.

  1. He/she is often late

    Remember the time when your partner could not wait to meet you at the end of the day. It was as if he/she was actually the hours and minutes before they could rush home to be with you. While this kind of urgency almost always subsides after a while, if you find your partner purposely delaying coming back home or to a date with you, it is a sign that his/her mind is elsewhere. It is almost like he/she cannot face you or the prospect that there is nothing to look forward to in this relationship.

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  2. He/she has suddenly become more secretive

    If your partner was comfortable sharing her various things about her life with you earlier, but now seems to have developed a sudden need for privacy, it could be because he/she has a secret to keep, one that involves another partner. Other behaviors which imply increased secrecy are using several passwords to prevent you from knowing his/her computer activity or hiding his/her cell phone and credit card bills from your view. If you ask why or attempt to find out information that used to be common knowledge between the two of you, your partner may react angrily by accusing you off snooping or trying to control his/her movements.
  3. Long hours on the cell phone/computer

    An emotional affair does not even require the cheating partners to leave the house – emails, chat sessions and Skyping can all be various means to stay in touch with a lover. In fact the ease of internet chat rooms, online dating sites and secret email accounts has caused an alarming increase in emotional infidelity where actual sex is not part of the equation. So if your partner is spending unusually long hours on the computer and what’s more being very careful with her privacy settings, it could be because he/she is communicating with someone you are not supposed to know about.  Likewise your partner may be spending more time talking on the phone, especially cell phones and then hang up suddenly when you enter the room. If you find him/her erasing the history on the cell phone and becoming vague or defensive when asked about it, then you might want to check the phone records.
  4. Your partner can’t explain erratic behavior

    While an emotional affair is rarely carried out in seedy motels, your partner could still be spending lots of time in the lover’s company. So watch out for many little things in your partner’s behavior or regular routine that don’t add up. For instance your partner may be away for a while both from home and work and yet not able to explain his/her absence. Or he/she may not be present where he/she is supposed to be, like the gym where he/she has been going every Wednesday evening for the last two years. One of the surest signs of cheating is when a person is caught in little lies about the details of the day – like your partner may claim to have got late returning home as she had to return books to the library when it turns out that the library was closed at the time for repairs.
  5. Your partner claims that they are just friends

    If you have a particular person in mind and ask your partner about him/her, more likely than not your partner will claim that “we’re just friends”. Incredible though it may seem because of its predictability, this is still one of the most common excuses that a cheating partner will come up with when asked to explain an unusual involvement with an outsider.  But if you are sure your partner is spending more and more time with this new "friend"; then there is probably more to it than mere friendship. Your partner may feel that he/she has a lot in common with this person, that this person understands him/her and things that he/she is going through. Whatever the reasons for the ‘friendship’, it should be taken as an important indicator of an undue emotional attachment.
  6. You get to see less of him/her

    When in the grip of an affair, a person seeks to spend more time with the new partner and consequently tries to move away from the primary relationship. In case of emotional infidelity, this may take the shape of a request to be given more space which usually means time alone or away from you. Your partner may say it is due to excessive stress at work and he/she needs to unwind by him/herself or due to confusion over their feelings arising out of some personal crisis. More often than not, this simply means that he/she is looking for ways to spend more time with her lover, away from you and perhaps your family.
  7. Less emotional intimacy

    Even if your partner continues to be physically present around you, in case of an emotional affair, his/her attention may be elsewhere. He/she will seem withdrawn and uninterested in any couples or family activity. Your partner may go off by him/herself, keep listening to his/her IPod or generally seem preoccupied most of the time.
  8. Lack of physical affection

    While your partner may not stop having sex with you in case of emotional affair, there is bound to be some lack of physical intimacy. He/she would not only stop initiating sexual contact but would even seem disinterested if you do so. While sex is not the most important part of a relationship, not having it at all or a noticeable loss of sexual intimacy is usually sign of an affair.
  9. Devaluing your relationship

    One of the most definite signs that your partner is having an emotional affair is devaluing your relationship. If you point out your concern about the health of your relationship, your partner is apt to become defensive and even blame you for any relationship problems. Also he/she may start fights about trivial things and always make you feel that you are wrong or not good enough for him/her. In almost everything, he/she would always see the negative rather than your positive attributes. At the extreme, your partner may even blurt out that he/she no longer cares if you stay or go.
  10. Absence of future plans

    Finally as your partner stops all emotional investment in the relationship, he/she would be reluctant to talk of your dreams and goals together or make plans for the future. This is as sure a sign as possible that he/she is completely focused on someone else and your shared future does not seem attractive to him/her anymore.