Infidelity in marriage is difficult whether it's a physical or emotional connection. Just knowing that your partner can share such close intimacy with someone outside the marriage is devastating.
Some people strongly believe that emotional infidelity hurts more than a traditional affair. While a physical affair is a slap in the face, many couples can acknowledge that it was a physical attraction that went too far. But, when a friendship crosses the line and hearts and emotions become involved, the pain can cut much deeper.
It can take years to heal a marriage after an indiscretion and sometimes, a partner's emotional infidelity can be harder to get over than a physical connection or a one-night stand. Here are the reasons.
What Creates an Emotional Affair?
An emotional affair happens when a partner creates a romantic emotional connection to someone outside of the marriage. They treat this other person as if they were a spouse, sharing personal information, laughing together, and fostering an inappropriate connection of trust.
Common situations where emotional affairs occur are:
What may have started out as an innocent friendship begins to move into an affair, which is marked by denial, secrecy, deception, sexual chemistry, and a deep feeling of understanding from the party outside the marriage.
Why Emotional Infidelity in Marriage Hurts So Much
A physical affair is a deep betrayal. A partner sharing such an important sexual connection with someone else enhances emotional intimacy, feelings of love, and the formation of trust with someone outside the marriage.
But on some level, physical affairs are easier to comprehend than emotional ones. They are a physical attraction that crossed a line. A one-night stand could be an alcohol-induced mistake or an act of pure selfishness. In many ways, these excuses are easier to understand, though painful.
On the other hand, an emotional affair signals something inadequate about the betrayed partner. It says that a spouse is not simply looking for selfish sexual gratification, but they are looking for a whole new partner altogether.
When emotional infidelity occurs, the guilty party often denies it - even to themselves. They claim it's just an innocent friendship and that so long as physical sex hasn't happened, they aren't doing anything wrong.
These hurtful defenses can start to make the wounded partner feel frustrated, perhaps even doubtful of themselves at times. They start to wonder whether they are overreacting or being jealous and unreasonable.
After finding out that an emotional affair was occurring, such denials can make the innocent partner feel resentful, disrespected, and frustrated.
Trust is one of the most important qualities in a marriage. Building this important bond helps partners to feel safe, loved, and secure in the relationship. They know their partner is reliable, will keep their secrets, and has their best interests at heart. When trust is broken, it can be nearly impossible to gain it back.
One of the reasons why emotional affairs are harder to swallow than physical ones is because feelings are involved. As previously mentioned, physical affairs can be incredibly damaging to a marriage, but it can be brushed off as a one-time thing. Emotional affairs involve repeated decisions to form an intense romantic relationship outside of the marriage bond.
Such betrayal can make a partner feel unwanted, unloved, and unappreciated. Above all else, it damages the emotional connection once shared in the marriage and makes the innocent partner feel alone.
Online infidelity is cited as one of the most common reasons for divorce and disharmony in a marriage.
This emotional infidelity can be harder to stop than a physical affair. After all, in order to stop a sexual affair, all the partner has to do is stop meeting that person. But an emotional affair is as easy as sending a text message or checking social media.
The deep, intimate connection formed in an emotional affair can feel more like a friendship or an outlet for what is going wrong in the marriage. This can make it much more difficult to let go of, especially if the guilty spouse is still insisting nothing devious is happening in the friendship.
Aside from breaking trust and being a hurtful betrayal, emotional infidelity in marriage can also be a tremendous blow to a partner's ego.
Married partners once viewed each other as their best friend, confidant, an object of desire. They appreciated one another and made each other feel special above anyone else.
To have a partner suddenly lavish attention and build a romantic friendship with someone else can create terrible self-esteem issues that are hard to recover from. Such feelings can cause the innocent partner to feel like a stranger/outsider in their own marriage.
Just because a physical affair hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. Often times an emotional affair is a breeding ground for physical infidelity. A deep connection has been created that has fostered physical attraction and lust for one another.
Given the right opportunity, individuals may give into sexual temptation and turn emotional infidelity into a full-fledged affair. This can make breaking the affair off and healing from the ordeal much harder to bear.
Emotional infidelity in marriage is a devastating blow to happiness. This dangerous bond formed outside of your relationship can make you feel inadequate, damages trust, and ruins your emotional connection to your spouse. By seeking marital counseling and agreeing to end the affair for good, couples can get back on track after infidelity.