Signs of an
Emotional Affair: "Help! I think my partner is
having an emotional affair."
By Susie and Otto Collins
What do you do when you discover your partner has developed
a close, intimate relationship with another person?
To you, it feels like he or she is having affair but to your
mate, it's all innocent.
Your partner claims they are only friends and you are
over-reacting. After all, no physical or sexual interaction
In situations like this, we advise individuals and couples
to take a step back and look closely at what's going on.
Emotional affairs are real-- even if there is no sexual
dimension to them at this time. They have real disconnecting
effects on a relationship and the feelings of betrayal are
also real and painful.
We aren't opposed to heterosexual people in committed
relationships having friendships with members of the
opposite sex. But there is a difference.
Here are a few signs that an emotional affair might be
*There may be a sharing of intimate details of the person's
life-- things the person might not confide in his or her
*There could be a longing or desire to spend more and more
time with this other person-- and a contrary pull to be away
from the partner.
*Feelings of physical attraction might develop-- fantasies
about what sharing sensual or sexual intimacy might be like
*There is often a sense of secretiveness about
communications and interactions. One or both people might be
evasive about what's going on between them.
If any of these signals are present in your situation, it
would be beneficial for you to pay attention and tune in to
how you feel. Become especially aware of how connected or
disconnected you are from your partner.
Making strides to move closer together to your mate can, in
certain cases, be just as powerful as trying to understand
your partner's interactions with this friend who might be
more than just a friend.
Get clear about what's true.
In order to move closer to your partner, it is often
necessary to dissolve the blocks or walls that are have
developed between you.
A simple dinner out together is probably not going to make
the emotional affair just go away.
It might be a start to helping you two re-connect; but it's
probably not going to make those relationship walls vanish
This will most likely require both you and your partner to
learn new ways to communicate with one another. Trust will
probably need to be rebuilt as well.
If you are concerned that your mate is having an emotional
affair, get clear about what's true for you.
What is it that you really want from your relationship? If
you've never taken the time to sit down and think about this
question, do it now.
Get clear about what you know to be true about your
partner's friendship with this other person. This is
Try to separate out what you have observed and can, as
objectively as possible, know is true from what you might
have assumed or guessed about.
You might need to ask your partner for clarification.
Yes, this could be a difficult conversation to have with
your mate. But it can give you more information upon which
to base your understandings.
We do not suggest that you approach this conversation with
your partner by interrogating or accusing him or her. Try to
keep yourself open and encourage a sense of honesty and
openness in your mate.
Make agreements and decisions.
With a greater sense of clarity and possibly more
information, you can now make agreements with your partner.
If he or she claims that this is nothing more than
friendship, you might request an agreement about the
interactions that might happen between the two in the
For example, you could make an agreement that your mate will
be transparent with you about his or her communications with
this other person. There will no longer be any secrecy.
If your partner is unwilling to make agreements with you
about this situation, you have some decisions to make.
What is your bottom line when it comes to your mate's
friendship? What is your bottom line for your own happiness
in this relationship?
These are weighty questions. We encourage you to feel into
yourself and be very clear about what you want and your next
Know that you can be happy and have the connected
relationship you want.