When most people imagine cheating, a partner having a fling with a person outside their relationship comes to mind. But does cheating always have to fall into the realm of physical and romantic attraction to another person? For some people, not necessarily. Everyone defines it differently, but there seems to be a lot of people who agree that a partner making a deep emotional connection with another person might cross into cheating territory. These are some potential red flags if you suspect your partner is emotionally cheating.
1. Your partner is confiding in another person and shutting you out.
Having a close platonic friendship is fine. Actually, it’s probably healthy. But if you’re in a long-term relationship and your partner is constantly having intimate, in-depth conversations about their emotions and personal struggles with another person, and then acts as though everything is completely fine when you encourage them to open up to you, that could be a problem. Having a mutual friend constantly play third wheel isn’t cute or quirky, it’s problematic. People define relationships and what it means to be a partner differently, but if you’re opening your heart to somebody and allowing them to know you inside out and they’re acting as if they have nothing to say when they’re actually telling another person everything instead, that’s usually not okay.
2. Your partner regularly complains about you to another person.
We’ve all texted the group chat about a fight we had with a partner, but if someone is regularly unloading how they feel about you or complaining about you to someone else, that’s not good. Your partner should not be bashing you to another person and then pretending everything is perfect or brushing you off when you ask them what’s wrong; that’s manipulative, and you should walk away from both people involved.
3. Your partner gets defensive very quickly.
Arguments happen in relationships, but regardless of who picks the fight, a very defensive partner is a red flag, especially if you’re trying to talk about their relationship with someone else going too far. If a delicate conversation starts and they immediately go into defense mode, it could be a sign that they’re hiding something. Also, if they start making you feel guilty for bringing something up, they’re veering into emotional manipulation territory.
4. Your partner is not sharing anything with you.
It’s important to talk openly in relationships, from everyday happenings to deeper, more personal things. If you notice that everything your partner is talking to you about is becoming very surface-level, that might be a sign that they’re taking their in-depth conversations to someone else. If you’re asking them about how they’re feeling or doing and they’re just hitting you with an “okay” with no elaboration every single time, that might be an issue.
5. Your partner never invites you when they hang out with other people.
Everyone needs their own time with friends and family outside their relationship, but if your partner is consistently leaving you out every single time they’re hitting the bar with mutual friends or acquaintances, that’s kind of strange. Also, if you notice that your partner is acting like a completely different person with other people, that might be a sign that they don’t want you to get to know their friends and they’re keeping you at arm’s length.
6. Your partner is picking fights or accusing you of wanting to break up.
If you bring something up and your partner’s response is to throw their hands in the air, pout, spin the narrative to moping about being a bad partner, and tell you to just break up with them, take my advice: walk away. They’re trying to inch you out the door instead of just fessing up and having a real conversation about breaking up.
7. Your partner is lying about how close they are to someone else.
If your partner is regularly hanging out, talking to, and confiding in someone else, but is assuring you that they don’t know them well, barely talk to them, or don’t even like them, that’s suspicious. Also, this is a partner who is willingly deceiving you, and if the person they’re talking about is a mutual friend, that’s two people you should remove from your life.
So, you think your partner might be emotionally cheating. What now?
Coming from someone who’s experienced it, emotional cheating stings. It could even completely wreck the trust and emotional bond you and your partner shared. Staying in a relationship or walking away is completely your decision, but don’t let your partner minimize the seriousness of emotional cheating and try to assure you that their other connection is harmless if you decide to bring it up. You deserve someone who puts you first and wants to connect with, spend time with, and open up to you, no third parties involved.