An emotional affair has three features:
1. Secrecy, either about the existence of a friendship, or the interactions that take place.
2. Physical chemistry and attraction.
3. When the friend knows more about your primary relationship than you know about this friendship.
Emotional affairs, like all affairs, are increasing because of the social context in which we live, with partners barely having any time for each other.
Emotional affairs usually start with a friendship that has 'crossed the line'. In other words, the boundaries around that friendship, that prevented it from posing a threat to your primary relationship, have become blurred over time. Emotional infidelity occurs when your partner starts exchanging intimacies and secrets with a friend that they would normally share with you.
Often in cases, where emotional attration combines itself with physical attraction, there is a likelihood for relationship to convert into a full-blown affair. However, not every a emotional affair will lead to physical infidelity. For some individuals, there is a boundary that they won't breach. If your partner decided to end the friendship and has taken the risk to tell you about what has happened, there is a good chance that the relationship would not have progressed further.
An emotional affair can be as painful for all parties as a physical, or combined affair. And hence, it is not recommended to minimise the feelings hurt and loss of trust that accompany an instance of emotional infidelity. However, with hard work and a willingness to uncover the reason why it happened and agreeing to future boundaries for safe friendships, a couple can build a stronger relationship in its wake.
1. Be Truthful: Come clean and try to have a peaceful discussion about why it happened and aim to attain a better understanding of each other's perspectives as well as the consequences of the affair on the marriage and family.
2. Decide If the Marriage can be Saved : The only way to determine this is with the help of your spouse. If they want to work on the marriage, then it is possible that the marriage can be saved, but it will take two people to do the work, not just one. Therefore, ensure that you both are on the same page so that you can save the marriage.
3. Determine What Went Wrong:-People do not have emotional affairs without an issue in the marriage to start with. Though this does not give your spouse an excuse to have done it, it is important to figure these out in order to move forward. This may also help your partner realise that they should have come to you with their concerns instead of seeking external comfort.
4. Be yourself and admit your own faults:- : It is important that after finding out about your partner's emotional affair you don't change yourself. Understand the kind of person you are with your partner and do not try too hard to be someone you aren't as it won't last. Although, your partner was at fault to seek emotional comfort outside of the marriage, identifying and trying to improve your own faults would set a better foundation to continue the marriage on.
5. Work on re-building your trust:- Though it's hard to trust your spouse again, in order to save the marriage it is essential. It is important to understand that you cannot expect your partner or yourself to do this overnight and would involve a lot of time and effort. This may also be a huge hurdle to overcome on your own, but it is not impossible, though it would be easier if a counsellor or life coach leads youto get the help you prefer.
6. Try to Share Interests:-If you did not have shared interests before the emotional affair it's imperative that you two find something that you can share now. Many times emotional affairs begin due to a lack of shared interests and doing things together. Married couples can get into a bad habit of living two separate lives. While doing activities without each other is perfectly fine, making a habit of doing things apart all the time can be dangerous for any marriage.
7. Get Professional Help :- Most marriages struggle to survive without professional help and guidance to get through this type of situation. Ensure that you find a counsellor, group, life coach or other help that has experience dealing with the problems specific to emotional affairs to get the best help that you can to give your marriage the best chance to survive.