Psychology of Cheating

All You Need to Know About Emotional Cheating

People used to believe that cheating happens only when an individual in a relationship engages in a sexual affair with another person they aren’t in a relationship with.

Since the invention of social media, cell phones, and the internet, we realize that cheating can happen even without sexual involvement. People regularly communicate over the phone, and breeding an emotional relationship cheating can happen.

Emotional Cheating Definition

Emotional cheating is when an individual establishes emotional intimacy and close connection with another individual who isn’t their partner. This sort of connection steps over the boundaries of a platonic relationship and breaks the trust and commitment initially dedicated to the primary relationship.

What Causes Emotional Cheating? 

People who engage in emotional cheating live in denial often. They feel they relate more with the other person only because the person understands them more. New York Times best-selling author, M Gary Neuman, discovered that only 7% and 8% of the time do women and men, respectively, cheat due to sexual reasons. Most times, people, regardless of their gender, cheat due to the absence of an emotional or sexual connection with their partner. Thus, they try to make up for this by seeking the company of other people.

emotional cheating between a guy and a girl

However, this type of connection, notwithstanding the reason, poses a threat to the primary relationship. It causes the partners to drift apart, and this is because one partner is channeling their time and affection towards another person outside of the relationship.

How Does Emotional Cheating Happen Online? 

These days, people do not necessarily have to meet physically before getting emotionally entangled. The online space can enable two people from different ends of the earth to engage in emotional affairs. It can be done through texting, flirting, and sexting.

Texting 💌

With the everyday use of smartphones, it’s easy for an individual to form an emotional affair with another unintentionally. Emotional cheating texting is a form of cheating established through intimate communications and sharing personal details with another individual who isn’t your partner. You should, however, note that this form of texting doesn’t have to be sexually inclined before it’s considered to be an act of cheating.  

Flirting 😘

This is a means of expressing attraction and communicating interest through subtle hints to another person you aren’t in a relationship with. If you find yourself slightly changing your voice when talking on the phone, wanting to discuss sexual topics, or regularly complimenting the attractiveness of another, then you may be edging towards emotional cheating flirting.

Sexting 🔞

This form of cheating involves exchanging naughty and sexual pictures with another person who you aren’t in a relationship with. It includes encouraging sexually explicit conversations with such individuals. Two people who have been sexting regularly are more likely to develop an emotional bond eventually.

Signs of Emotional Cheating in Relationships

Signs of Emotional Cheating in a Relationship

In the initial stage, emotional cheating feels more like friendship. “Emotional cheating is establishing a close emotional connection with someone other than your primary partner,” Srinivas Dannaram, MD, a psychiatrist with Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, AZ. Here are some emotional cheating signs in a relationship that could help to catch a cheater:

  • You no longer feel like a priority.
  • You’re not the first person they share happenings in their life.
  • There’s emotional distance and coldness between you and your partner.
  • They begin to compare you with the other individual.
  • They hide, secure, and delete emails or texts on their devices.
  • They get offended, sensitive, and defensive whenever you ask questions about involvement with that person.
  • They are not really interested in sex.

Emotional Cheating vs. Friendship

It is necessary to note that sometimes, there could be some generalities between emotional cheating and friendship. The best way to determine when your friendship begins to stem into emotional cheating is to conduct a personal evaluation. Review the relationship and check how and what you feel. If there’s a combination of guilt and betrayal, especially when you consider your primary relationship, it’s one of the signs of emotional cheating in a relationship.

When identifying the major differences between emotional cheating and friendship, there are certain things to remember. First, emotional cheating runs more profoundly than platonic friendship. This could be when you share secrets, emotional intimacy, or physical touch. Usually, emotional cheating involves sexual attraction, even when both parties aren’t physically involved.

Emotional Cheating and Friendship

Another difference to look out for between emotional cheating and friendship is the element of secrecy entailed in emotional cheating. That is to say, the parties involved would go far and beyond to cover up the existence of their relationship from the eyes of a third party.  

The intention of friendship is usually pure – it edges around seeking who to converse and confide in. However, emotional cheating often involves ulterior motives where one or both parties are sexually attracted to each other.

How Does Social Media Contribute to Emotional Cheating? 

Slater and Gordon, a family law specialist, once carried out research that cited social media as the reason for the marital breakdown in about one-third of divorces. Social media allows people to send flirty messages and intimate photos, even from the confines of their rooms. A cheating partner can use any social media platform to their advantage. Some of these are:

Facebook and Instagram

Recently, the creation of fake Facebook accounts has been on the rise. There’s no system to prevent a cheating partner who has previously opened a real account to not open another fake one for the sole purpose of cheating. If a cheating husband or wife creates additional profiles on Facebook besides their original one, then we know it’s for obvious reasons. Instagram, on its own, is more of a picture and video app. If someone who tends to cheat begins to follow people because of the pictures, we can predict the outcome of such a decision.

Snapchat and OnlyFans

If a cheating boyfriend or cheating girlfriend regularly posts or sends flirty photos on Snapchat or OnlyFans, their intention is not far-fetched. It’s mainly to attract people who might be interested in them. When such people signify interest, this might kick off a cheating spree on these platforms.

Tinder and Other Dating Apps

These platforms are used as hook-up apps to meet other people from across the globe. A cheating spouse can explore various dating apps to perform their acts, even without physically meeting people.

How to Know If You Are in a Relationship with a Cheating Partner?

If you are beginning to think about whether your partner is emotionally cheating, chances are they probably are. Here are some tips that might be helpful:

Check Social Media via Advanced Apps

There are applications to utilize to gain access to a cheating wife or husband’s profile. You can monitor their social media profiles with these apps to clear your doubts.

Trace All of Your Partner’s Activities on Their Gadgets

An easy way of detecting if your partner is emotionally cheating is to track the phone calls, text messages, or video calls going in and out of their phones.

Questions About Cheating Appearing and Getting Your Partner Out in the Open        

Frequently hold conversations with them on their views about cheating. This makes them uneasy if they are guilty and sometimes helps them retrace their steps.

Examples of Emotional Cheating

There are various emotional cheating examples. Some samples of emotional cheating can be:

  • Writing sexual letters and romantic chats with another person asides from your partner.
  • You are distancing yourself from your partner and seeking solace in another person.
  • You are acting like a couple with someone else—the absence of boundaries or restrictions with other people.
  • You are erasing every trace of your friendship with another person because you are worried about what people or your partner will think.

Emotional Cheating After-Effects

The pain that comes with discovering a partner is emotionally cheating is inevitable and can be devastating in most cases. Every party in the relationship experiences their fair share of the impact. The consequences are countless, most especially for married couples. Their children are not left out in this messy situation. Some consequences are anxiety, depression, grief, and low self-esteem, amongst others. Looking at these consequences, you know it’s safer not to tow the emotional cheating path.

Emotional Cheating Recovery

In a situation where emotional cheating has taken place, and both partners are willing to salvage what’s left of their relationship, and they are wondering how to move past the situation – here are some tips to help them recover:

Honesty with Your Significant Other

Yes, it’s easy to think that your partner will not be hurt if they are ignorant of your actions. However, the hurt they’ll feel will be minimal if you confess to them, compared to if they discover themselves. The first step in emotional cheating recovery is the willingness to let the cat out of the bag.

Give Them Space

An individual who has been cheated on will need space to think clearly. They feel all sorts of emotions ranging from anger to disappointment and insecurity. At this phase, they don’t need you crouching in their space.

Reconnect with Your Significant Other

After giving your partner space, you should reconnect with them, so you both can remember the good old days. Present an offer of reconnecting on a fresh start. It could be going on a short vacation or having romantic dates that would do the trick for you.

Share Every Information with Your Partner

It would be best if you were willing to go to any length to express your sobriety to your partner. Ensure you constantly provide them with information about your movement, schedules, outings, and everything you are up to during the day or night. You don’t need to let them start to doubt or ask questions before filling them in on necessary information.

How to Secure a Relationship from Emotional Cheating?

Final Thoughts about Emotional Cheating
  • Invest and stay connected to your partner.
  • Hold a conversation with your partner about boundaries that need to be set in place to protect your relationship.
  • Have people outside of your relationship to which you should be accountable. This can be your parents or any elderly person in your life.


Final Thoughts

Emotional cheating happens when your connection with another person disrupts your investment in your significant other. No matter the circumstance, your utmost priority should be your partner. Cut off every form of distraction from its roots before it gets established.

Author Holly SmithHolly SmithAuthor & Relationship Expert

Emotional Cheating in a relationship is a serious matter. It can be just as damaging as physical cheating. It is a betrayal of trust and it can be just as painful.