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Emotional affairs

(39 Posts)
Time40 Wed 20-Sep-17 21:22:52

I'd never heard the term "emotional affair" before I joined MN. These "affairs" seem to be seen here as actual cheating. I can see that they might be cause for concern, and make the partner who isn't having the "affair" feel very uneasy, but I don't see how they qualify as cheating. Surely, the fact that nothing physical happens is the very definition of not cheating. I am not having an "emotional affair" with anyone, and I'm not sure I'd want one, but if it did happen I don't think I'd feel that I was cheating.

Garlicansapphire Wed 20-Sep-17 21:35:22

I think if you're in a long term and committed relationship the measure is just how your partner would feel if they read the messages or heard the conversations. And alternatively would you be happy if your partner was into that level of conversation and involvement and you overheard or read it. Would you be happy? Really?

In our heart of hearts we all know when we are crossing a line, beyond flirting but engaging in something that is a bit secretive and gives you a deeper emotional thrill. So yes you could argue that no genitals were involved, but in your gut you know that if you were in the full early days of love you'd never be conversing with someone else in that manner. It involves emotional honesty. And when you're enjoying the attention and intimacy with some one other than your partner you dont want to admit that.

The good person has one relationship at a time. There's no need at all to start a new intimacy with someone when you are still in a committed relationship with someone else. Integrity, honesty and above all kindness count.

exhaustedmumof4 Wed 20-Sep-17 21:51:52

Well I just found out my husband was having an 'emotional affair'. He took a female friend of his out on secret dates while I was home with our kids, they kissed on more than one occasion, they had feelings for each other and kept secret communications from me. They weren't fucking but yeah, he was cheating on me and it hurts like a bitch.

Time40 Wed 20-Sep-17 22:02:03

I'm sorry to hear that, Exhausted, and I'm sorry it has hurt you. I wouldn't be at all happy about the kissing - that's definitely crossing the line.

Don't you think that there is another way to look at it, though? Surely, if your husband was very attracted to this woman, but he managed not to have an affair, doesn't that show that he is deeply committed to you, and is able to remain faithful to you in spite of serious temptation?

Fluerdelea Wed 20-Sep-17 22:06:23

OP your wording sounds abit journalistic to me

SparklingRaspberry Wed 20-Sep-17 22:07:45

I would feel more gutted over an emotional affair than a physical affair, so yes they do exist.

My partner could go out and shag some random person without it meaning anything. No feelings involved. Yes he's still cheated and lied to me, but it was purely physical.

However if he had an emotional affair, it usually goes on for a long period of time. He'd be developing feelings for another woman, there would be a long string of lies, he'd be wanting to talk to her and not me, texting her and not me, she'd be taking up a place and she would actually mean something. He would actually have real feelings towards another person, somebody else would be making him happy, excited, giddy etc

I think I'd find it easier to forgive and move on from a one night stand than I would an emotional affair.

FlowerPot1234 Wed 20-Sep-17 22:09:46

I'm very sorry Exhausted to hear that too. IMO too it's cheating. Time40 - I have known of men (not by personal involvement I hasten to add) who do this and the not-doing-the-final-bit physical act is nothing to do with respect, or an ability to remain faithful, or a sign of commitment, it is a) avoiding all risk of pregnancy and b) a screwed up form of processing it in their head that they aren't really cheating or doing anything bad at all, since they've not had full intercourse.

And in every case I know where the partner has been told by the man that he has not had sex with the OW, he has been lying.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Wed 20-Sep-17 22:09:53

I think this is a massive grey area that MN tends to see as black and white.

Time40 Wed 20-Sep-17 22:12:34

OP your wording sounds abit journalistic to me

Possibly because I'm a writer. But I'm a writer of fiction, not a journalist. Maybe it would be a good idea to look posters up, find out how long they have been here and read some of their other posts before throwing accusations around. It's actually really nasty and hurtful.

exhaustedmumof4 Wed 20-Sep-17 22:12:46

The lack of sex (if indeed he's telling the truth) makes it a 98% betrayal rather than 100%. So, yeah. Not much better.

Fluerdelea Wed 20-Sep-17 22:13:27

Lies, discreet, selfishness, disrespect, self indulgance, detachment

Fluerdelea Wed 20-Sep-17 22:14:44

Opps pressed too soon...these are all traits of an affair no matter what type

Mumsthewordssshhh Wed 20-Sep-17 22:31:30

I don't think no sex means it's not an affair. It's an affair because it cheating on your partner by all the lying and keeping secrets. If anything the fact it's emotional means it's a deeper form of cheating/affair in my view.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 20-Sep-17 22:34:44

People who have emotional affairs tend to be just as deceitful as those who have physical ones.

yetmorecrap Wed 20-Sep-17 22:38:14

Sparklingrasberry, I have been on receiving end of this and you summarise it beautifully. In my case although it appears to have been more one sided on his part, seeing longing words in his own writing and hearing him then singing these songs/poems as he recorded them was far more devastating to me than any one night stand with a random , especially combined with copious texting. I'm still in limbo but even though it occured 11 years ago I only found the stuff by accident late last year and am still unsure if I will ever get over the shock or feel the same. Just because it doesn't involve physical sex does not mean it's not cheating

Shankarankalina Wed 20-Sep-17 22:41:23

Op, you used the words 'very uneasy' up top, and that is a phrase that resonates with me. The sense of can't-put-your-finger-on uneasiness is terribly corrosive. The feeling that your other half is day-dreaming about someone else while living with you, taking himself off to text and call someone else, creating new connections and memories, and pursuing an intimacy outside the marriage is just hell to experience. There might not be lipstick on the collar, but the feeling of exclusion and betrayal is awful.

I remember a turning point: being in the car once with my (now ex) H and he had a new CD onthat was just loud enough to block me out and prevent conversation. He hummed and sang along and smiled out the window and I felt the presence of the affair partner in the car so strongly, it was clear he was already thinking of an alternative life that did not include me.

NotTheFordType Wed 20-Sep-17 22:45:13

Surely it's up to each individual couple to decide the terms of their commitment.

yetmorecrap Wed 20-Sep-17 22:51:35

NotTheFordType, whilst I agree different couples can have different ideas of what's ok, it's not usually the case that it's brought up when it's a long term relationship, particularly if married , you kind of 'assume' that the marriage vows mean an 'exclusive' kind of situation and don't usually feel you have to state out loud that you aren't ok with huge emotional entanglements with other women/men.

Houseofmirth66 Wed 20-Sep-17 22:55:22

The idea that we must only be in love with one adult is a social construct designed to protect the family unit. When you have a child you love it totally but when the next one comes along you find the same amount of love for that one too. Imagine if you were to say 'I can only possibly love one child' You'd be painted a monster. And yet, when it comes to your adult relationships you're expected to pick one for life. It's perfectly possible to love more than one adult but because society demands monogamy, unless we are sociopaths, we usually succumb to the pressure and go along with it. But it's not necessarily 'natural'. If it was people wouldn't find it so difficult to stick to it. Emotional affairs are a way to let off steam without breaking up the family unit. I couldn't manage without mine.

yetmorecrap Wed 20-Sep-17 22:58:53

I agree partly house, but it's only fair if both people know that's the deal and it's open, otherwise one person is having fun whilst the other is being taken for a mug

Neverknowing Wed 20-Sep-17 23:01:03

Personally I think an emotional affair is worse than just sex. Lots of couples live together without having sex and are still together and in a relationship, that's basically what an emotional affair is. It's the most important part of a relationship (to me) that they can feel with someone else. Sex is just a physical reaction, purposefully getting to know someone else and falling in love with them is something else entirely.

NotTheFordType Wed 20-Sep-17 23:04:10

Oh come off it house, plenty of people do poly without being painted as a sociopath Ffs.

SandyY2K Wed 20-Sep-17 23:08:34

Here's the problem.

An emotional affair is a relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or lover) that affects the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage. The role of an affair is to create emotional distance in the marriage.

Is that a situation you'd like?

Houseofmirth66 Wed 20-Sep-17 23:17:58

That's fine Sandy, if you believe that not having an emotional affair will miraculously create emotional closeness with your life partner. Sometimes that ship has just sailed.

Gorgosparta Thu 21-Sep-17 06:37:57

If you are lying and hiding your relationship with someone else, its not ok.

And no you dont get extra points for 'managing' not to sleep with someone.

If you are investing, emotionally, with someone else, thats not ok. If you cant put that energy in your relationship and choose to put it elsewhere its cheating. Its a betrayl. Doesnt matter if its technically cheating. The feelings if betrayl felt by the other person can be just as bad. Thats ehat matters. How it impacts the partner.

If someone wants an open relationship, they need to act like an adult and speak up. Not start lying and deciving their partner. You cant force someone into an open relationship by cheating. Thats not an open relationship. And of that converstaion is too difficult to have you are grown up enough for an open relationship.

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