Emotional Cheating

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Emotional Infidelity has become a very renown topic in terms of causing and creating disputes between spouses or couples worldwide. Various definitions of emotional infidelity have created this very predicament. Due to the prevalence of technology and forms of communication, it has created a greater amount of availability for emotional cheating. What is considered emotional cheating? According to Michael Formica in 2008, “Emotional infidelity is an expression of either the need or the desire to absent oneself from one’s primary relationship, without actually leaving that relationship.” Main causes of emotional cheating are comparisons, loss of feelings, failing to maintain boundaries, insensitivity and selfishness, and filling needs.



One cause of emotional cheating is comparisons. According to Parijat Deshpande in 2014, “the start of an emotional affair begins with comparisons.” This usually starts because of a feeling of disconnection. A partner may feel as though not enough attention is given to him or her. However, if a coworker/friend is complementing and expressing positivity daily towards this affected partner, he or she may feel the need to become emotionally attached (Meyer, 2018). Thus, it leads to comparisons as a partner may experience the absent qualities from a friend rather than his or her loved one. Consequently, having a close friendship with another colleague, worker, or employee, may lead to comparisons between that particular person and a partner. This often leads to emotional cheating because one is comparing the emotional feelings gained from a friendship with a relationship with his/her partner. One feels the need to compare a partner to a particular friend because of his or her different and unique behaviors or personalities that have produced feelings that are unexplainable. One feels that there is a weakness in a relationship, causing him or her to compare a friendship to his or her relationship in order to gain some understanding about what his/her true feelings are. Thus, a cause of emotional cheating is comparisons (Deshpande, 2014).

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Loss of feeling

Another cause of emotional cheating is loss of feeling. A partner may feel disconnected from his or her partner because of the loss of feeling. This may be due to lack of behaviors and actions that have caused a feeling of emptiness. An example is compliments. Couples who have stopped pouring and expressing complements of admiration and love may lack certain feelings for their partner that they initially sensed. Their partners lack providing these qualities, leading to him or her engaging in meaningful conversations and compliments with another person because they yearn for this feeling. Moreover, it causes emotional cheating because these particular qualities are searched for and desired and thus acquired from another friend, colleague, employee, or coworker. This yields an emotional connection between these friends, gradually leading to an emotional separation from a partner’s primary relationship. A loss of feeling can also be a result of living “parallel lives” (Deshpande, 2014). This particularly refers to couples whose lives are too busy and stressed from obligations, fulfillments, responsibilities, that have caused a void or emptiness that leads to emotional infidelity. An example of this is chores. Due to many responsibilities that both partners have to tend to, like having to move, a new job, or taking care of children, there is a lack of usual communication and exciting conversations between a couple. There seems to be no more fun in a relationship because of the duties and tasks that consume these partners. Thus, these two partners relate to each other through their tasks and responsibilities rather than their fun and pleasure together, lacking particular feelings, leading to emotional cheating.

Fail to Maintain Boundaries

Another reason for emotional cheating is failing to maintain boundaries. Partners may be naturally flirtatious when associating and engaging in conversations with acquaintances, friends, coworkers, and more (Howard 2017). This may be due to his or her childhood when growing up and their environment. One may not be able to maintain boundaries because they are so used to “flirting” with other men and women regardless of being in a relationship. It may be uncontrollable to this particular partner because he or she perceives these acts as “harmless and fun”, growing up to displaying these expressions and behaviors (Doug, 2012). These flirtatious acts increase the likelihood of infidelity because of an expression of availability; when a partner flirts with another person, that person feels that this partner is available because of their kind gestures and portrayed superficial interest in this person. This is not only limited to verbal flirtatiousness but also to physical actions. An example of this is lunch. Having lunch with a coworker, employee, colleague while in a relationship is highly suspicious and creates the sense of availability. It conveys an understanding that this person is available and obtainable, creating an emotional attachment between this partner and friend, essentially leading to emotional cheating. Thus, failing to maintain boundaries can surely result in emotionally cheating (Doug, 2012).

Insensitivity and Selfishness

Another reason for emotional infidelity is insensitivity and selfishness. Although there may be no physical affair occurring between a partner and another individual, an emotional interaction that a partner knows is wrong can be the determining factor of whether or not a relationship continues. An example of this is feelings. Being consumed in one’s own feelings and problems can be viewed as selfish and insensitive. Not scrutinizing the consequences of these choices exhibits a selfish being. Although becoming consumed in how one’s feelings are affecting them, they may not be, in the slightest, be thinking about how one decision can affect an entire relationship. Instead, a partner practicing emotional infidelity confides in another person rather than their partner/spouse, leading to a disconnection in relationship, thus emotional cheating. Putting one’s own thoughts and feelings above their loved ones can definitely result in emotionally cheating as one would eventually conform to their desires and wants without carefully contemplating the negative impacts of such actions (Doug, 2012).

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Filling Needs

Lastly, a reason that may cause emotional infidelity is filling needs. According to Parijat Deshpande in 2014, “no relationship can meet every single need an individual has.” This is deemed true for nearly all couples who feel some sort of void in a relationship in terms of their needs. A partner may feel a need to communicate more effectively with his or her spouse/partner. However, if this need is rather an important one-repeatedly being neglected-there is a high possibility of it leading to emotional cheating. When a partner feels that these needs cannot be met by his or her partner but by another individual, that partner feels the need to engage in an emotional relationship in terms of effectively communicating because it is a quality that his or her spouse/partner lacks. If there are certain aspects that a relationship lacks and is provided by another friendship, there is a possibility of emotional infidelity. Partners who practice emotional infidelity may not know they are engaging in it, but simple signals of affection, warmness, and emotion being met only by another person other than a partner can portray disconnection between couples, thus leading to emotional cheating (Deshpande, 2014).

Emotional cheating is a very renown topic in terms of couples who constantly dispute over the definition and considerations of emotional cheating. However, emotional cheating can be described as a desire to engage in another relationship without physically leaving his or her primary relationship. Main contributors to emotional cheating are comparisons, loss of feelings, failing to maintain boundaries, insensitivity and selfishness, and filling needs.

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Emotional Cheating. (2019, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/emotional-cheating/