Are you really having an affair if there’s no physical contact? Most adults think that just talking could sometimes be a form of infidelity.
In fact, 60% of Americans said they would consider their partner unfaithful if they became emotionally involved with someone else, according to a survey by the research firm YouGov.
Before you do something that you may regret with an old flame or an attractive coworker, consider the impact on your primary relationship. Take a look at these suggestions for how to prevent or recover from an emotional affair.
- Recognize the signs. Emotional affairs are less obvious than renting a hotel room, but there are clues. Do you keep your relationship a secret and share things with your new friend that would be more appropriate to discuss with your partner? Do you feel guilty about what you’re doing?
- Confess your feelings. Depending on the circumstances, it may help to tell your partner what’s happening. That could mean specific details or a more general request for both of you to work harder at making your relationship a higher priority.
- Guide the conversation. Meanwhile, there are several things you can do to reduce temptation. Emotional affairs often begin with talking about personal information. You may need to change the subject to something more businesslike or boring.
- Socialize in groups. Workplace affairs are enticing because you spend so much time together. If you feel vulnerable, try going to lunch with the whole department instead of sharing sushi in a private booth.
- Limit alcohol. Similarly, Margaritas don’t improve your judgment. Stick to sparkling water when you’re trying to exercise restraint.
- Adjust your expectations. Fundamentally, an emotional affair is usually an indication that you need to pay more attention to your significant other. While long-term relationships naturally evolve beyond the honeymoon stage, you can work at keep your connection fun and rewarding.
- Accept responsibility. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Your partner may feel just as betrayed as if you had a physical affair.
- Make a decision. Juggling multiple relationships rarely turns out well. Figure out what is the healthiest choice for you. You may decide to continue your primary relationship or move on with or without a new partner. In any case, communicating honestly and responsibly will help.
- Cut off contact. If you’re going to end your emotional affair, you may need to eliminate all contact, at least temporarily. If you’re coworkers, that may mean limiting your interactions to essential business only.
- Go offline. What if you’ve been having an Internet affair? Technology could be part of the solution if closing your accounts and installing monitoring software helps you and partner to work through your issues.
- Tell your partner. If things became serious, it’s an individual choice whether to let your partner know or keep your actions to yourself. Living with a secret can be a burden but unloading could hurt your partner more. You’ll need to decide what’s most beneficial for the both of you.
- Cultivate your relationship. Strengthening your relationship will be the most important step in healing and preventing future straying. Create daily routines that bring you closer together and schedule consistent time to spend as a couple. Read self-help books and practice your communication skills.
- See a counselor. If you need more help, talk with a therapist who specializes in relationships. Make a list of multiple candidates if necessary, to find someone you’ll both feel comfortable with.
It’s easier to protect your relationship from an emotional affair than to repair it afterwards. However, if you and your partner are committed to each other, you may emerge from the experience with a stronger relationship and a happy future.