Your phone vibrates with a new text. You smile at the name on your screen and reply back instantly. You call them, they pick up instantly, and you’re on the phone for hours. They come over to see you; nothing physical happens but mentally you feel a lot better than you normally do. They’re always the first person on your mind, but you’re with someone else.
I define “emotional cheating” as being mentally intimate with someone other than your current romantic partner. As subtle as it may be, emotional cheating has the power to destroy relationships, raise doubt, and leave people in tears. It can happen anywhere: with a friend, coworker, neighbor, or anyone with whom you grow intimate over time.
As an emotional cheater, it is hard to realize what you are doing. You believe that you are devoted to your partner, but you always turn to the person you’re emotionally cheating with first. Often it serves as an indicator of a relationship that is failing. We choose to have a life partner because we want to be with them physically and mentally, but once you start emotionally cheating, you’ve lost that connection with your partner.
When you start turning to someone else, the chapter on your current relationship needs to be closed. Once you start connecting with someone else at an emotional level, the trust between you and your partner slowly diminishes. The secrecy of these types of affairs is what ruins relationships, so instead of staying in the relationship you should leave.
We often stay because we feel that our partner will realize how distant we have become from them, but that is always not the case. Sometimes it serves as a cue for your partner to start cheating, too, and the longer you stay with them, the more problems you’re creating for the both of you. Whether it is physical or emotional cheating, they both involve an element of deception that hurts the relationship and your partner.
I have emotionally cheated on an ex, and I am glad I did. If I didn’t, I would have wasted so much time with someone who was so wrong for me. Emotional cheating served as my cue that I needed to be more selective when picking a partner. It made me realize that I need to connect with someone at a much deeper level for me to be romantically involved with them. Although my “affair” never led to a romantic relationship—I wish it had—it still reminds me that relationships are deeper than what we all think and that we need to sometimes think of ourselves instead of our partner.