• 04/04/2024

What Is Emotional Cheating and How Do You Identify It?

A man and woman holding hands walking through a park.

Revivalist is a reader-supported endeavor and our posts may contain affiliate links. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Woman looks at her reflection after experiencing emotional cheating

Cheating is a sensitive subject for even the healthiest of couples. The possibility of physical infidelity from your lover can cause quite a rift. However, emotional cheating can also be as damaging to a relationship, if not more.

Defining Emotional Cheating

Emotional cheating refers to establishing a close relationship with another person who isn’t your partner. An emotional cheater tends to invest more love and energy to their person on the side. They also receive more non-physical fulfillment, such as reassurance and affection.

It’s important to note that emotional cheating is quite different from platonic relationships. For the similarities, they are both arrangements where they listen and care for one another. They are also both non-sexual in nature, but emotional cheating involves sensual tension.

In addition to that, friendships do not have any form of romantic attraction. The commitment and closeness two people have in a platonic relationship do not come from an amorous desire to be with that person.

Telltale Signs of Emotional Cheating

Just like other forms of infidelity, emotional cheating is often kept hidden. However, there are certain hints that you can look out for to identify whether your partner has such an affair.

1. They Often Mention a Certain Person

Emotional cheating can often seem harmless at first, which is why the person who is doing this act may mention a person’s name more often. They may think there’s nothing much with sharing these stories with you, as they’re initially nothing more than a close friend. When you notice this telltale sign, it’s best to communicate with your significant other to avoid overthinking.

2. They Play a Comparison Game

Apart from mentioning a specific person, they may also start comparing you to them. It can be a little subtle at first as they share characteristics that the third party has. Unfortunately, it can turn into jabs in the near future. Hearing “he listens a lot more than you” or “she is more forgiving than others” can be a sign of their emotional attachment to their side piece.

3. They Forget to Ask How You Are

It’s common in a relationship to ask how their partner is doing daily because they are interested. If they don’t inquire about what’s happening daily, there’s a lack of emotional availability. It’s possible that your other half is losing interest in you. What’s worse is that their interest is directed towards someone else.

4. They No Longer Confide In You

About 46% of U.S. adults believe that sharing your private thoughts and feelings with a different person is considered cheating. People can argue that they always confide in family and friends, but it can often come off as defensive. 

In addition, not sharing that private information with a partner is odd. You should be able to trust them as much as you cherish them. Thus, if they don’t confide in you about their matters, it can be a telltale sign of emotional cheating.

A couple talks to one another about emotional cheating

5. They Don’t Work Out Problems

Fights occur regularly in relationships, and it takes emotional energy to solve even the most petty arguments. But if your partner refuses to recognize or iron out problems, it can make you wonder why. It’s even more confusing if they used to dedicate plenty of time and effort to ensure the relationship has no qualms.

6. They Avoid Bonding Experiences

An emotional cheater tends to push their partner away because of secrets, which causes them to bond less. It’s one thing to be busy with work or go see friends, but to have zero dates? It’s important to bring this up when you realize that. You can also try initiating an outing together. But if they decline without a specific reason, keep your guard up.

7. They Form New Habits Out of the Blue

You know your partner better than other people, so it’s natural to see if they start to have certain habits that they didn’t have before. Perhaps they’re staying out of the house more, or they go out on more errands spontaneously. If they’re on social media more frequently, they may also engage in online cheating, a form of emotional affair through the Internet.

8. They Change Up Their Appearance

A person usually dresses up or gets a haircut to impress a certain someone in their life. It might not always be the primary reason, but you remember how they used to act before you got together. If you notice that they change their appearance or are generally more self-conscious, try to ask the reason behind it.

9. They Reject Advice or Gifts

Providing words of affirmation and giving gifts are common ways to show your love to the person you’re dating or married to. But to accept and return those is also an act of love. If they cannot receive and reciprocate your advice and presents, they are emotionally unavailable. The rejection may also stem from guilt.

10. They Show Less Physical Intimacy

One clear distinction that emotional cheating has from regular cheating is the lack of physical contact. However, how they treat you can change. Because of a weaker emotional attachment, they may have less drive to show their love through physical touch.

Plus, there are times when emotional cheating is a precedent to physical cheating. While it doesn’t always lead to that outcome, it is certainly possible for affairs to escalate in that aspect.

What to Do After Identifying Emotional Cheating

If you believe that your partner is emotionally cheating, it’s essential to communicate with your significant other. The same goes for if you find yourself guilty of the telltale signs. A commitment in a relationship or marriage is one that you both agreed to. To honor one another, show respect by being transparent about the situation.

Each couple navigates a cheating incident differently. Some people try to save the relationship while others just end things after confirming that infidelity had occurred. No matter how it ends, try to be honest with one another about what you want to happen.

Recognize Emotional Affairs

Emotional cheating can wreck a relationship, so it’s important to be aware of it and its signals. It can be impossible to turn back time, but you can face the matter with maturity and grace. After confronting, you get to move on with your life.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

We would love to connect deeper with you!

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.