Jen came to therapy because she suspected her husband was having an affair. He was avid online gamer and lately he had been spending more time talking to people, one in particular, on his online game. She noticed that he had been calling one particular person frequently (apart from game time) and the calls would last a long time. Jen was not aware of these calls and chats.. When she asked her husband he denied having an affair. He did however, say he was talking to the other person ( a woman) and they would discuss a lot of topics including their marriage, life etc. So is that an emotional affair?
In my experience the answer is‘ Yes’. An affair implies a close sexual relationship, emotional attachment and romantic relationship. And even if there is no sex involved an emotional affair is still an affair. Its about the connection and close attachment the person feels to one who is not a spouse.
So what are the clues to an emotional affair?
- You are spending a lot of time with the person and sharing your dreams, hopes and fantasies that you have not shared with your spouse or partner.
- You are keeping this a secret from your spouse/partner.
- You are finding ways to talk, email, text, chat, facetime to this person, rationalizing it as ‘oh its just talk’, and it becomes very important to you.
- You are sharing what is going on in your marriage with this person including marital dissatisfaction.
- You are day dreaming about sharing your life with this person.
In my experience emotional affair is as damaging to the marital relationship as an affair that involves sexual contact. The basic trust between the spouses is eroded and it takes time to rebuild the trust, respect and communication that is important to a strong, healthy relationship. If the couple is interested in staying in the marital relationship the emotional affair has to stop, the couple has to look very carefully at the marriage and ask the tough questions about the relationship, without blame and recriminations. That is where therapy can be helpful, in making sure each partner's feels that they are being heard and work on improving the relationship.
If you would like more information and would like to make an appointment please call the office at 201-952-9905.