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How to Save Your Marriage From an Emotional “Affair of the Heart”

Emotional affairs are difficult to define, but they aren’t innocent friendships – and they can destroy your marriage. Here’s how an emotional affair can ruin your relationship and how to save your marriage from the destruction of emotional infidelity. These signs of “cheating in your heart” are from Dr Phil McGraw.

emotional cheatingIf you think emotional cheating is a problem in your marriage (ie, your spouse has a close friend of the opposite sex), read The Emotional Affair: How to Recognize Emotional Infidelity and What to Do About It by Ronald Potter-Efron and Patricia Potter-Efron. You’ll discover what it means to have an emotional affair, and learn steps to discovering the roots of the problem, making changes in your relationship, discussing the issue with your partner, and recovering from the breach of trust and intimacy.

For every sign of infidelity, there may be more signs that you’re missing. According to Dr Phil, every problem in marriage can represent several other problems that you don’t see. “For every rat you see, there are 50 you don’t,” says Dr Phil. If you’re dealing with the rats of emotional affairs in your marriage, read How to Deal With Your Husband’s Past Secrets.

I was inspired to write this article by a reader who made the following comment…

“We have been married 15 years, and my husband got a part time job about a year ago,” says Nina on 6 Signs Your Marriage is Over – and How to Cope With the Future. “He always talked about a group of friends and then suddenly I noticed only one female coworker’s name continuously coming up. I asked about this person. She is half our age with two small children. My husband had been talking/texting this person nearly 24 hours a day, and I think this is emotionally cheating not an innocent friendship. Anytime I was asleep or out of his presence, they talked. I was later told he initially attempted to have sex with her and she said no because he was married. They then pursued this friendship. He has run errands for her, done things with her kids, etc. It is very reminiscent of how we got together. She’s a single mom, hard working, with small kids. My husband says if there is no sex, there is no affair. He doesn’t believe in emotional affairs. She said if she wanted him she could have had him. Help!”

Here’s what Dr Phil says about affairs of the heart…

What is an Emotional Affair?

On this show, Dr Phil featured Amanda and Randy. During their 11 years of marriage, Amanda had five emotional affairs (including an involvement with a psychiatric patient when she was a nurse. She lost her job over that one).

Here are the basics of emotional affairs, including what they are, why people commit emotional infidelity, and how to recover from emotional cheating.

It’s an emotional affair — not just an innocent friendship — when there are:

  • Long phone conversations, emails, and online discussions
  • Love letters
  • Meetings and conversations that are kept secret from the partner
  • Connections, confessions, and discussions that are kept secret

Reasons people have emotional affairs:

  • Infatuation addiction – they like the “tingly feeling”
  • Fear of intimacy – they don’t want to be vulnerable with their partner
  • Desire for new attractions and conquests
  • Attraction to power and exhilaration
  • Rebellion against the marriage or relationship
  • Emotional fixation at a teenage level (emotional immaturity)

For more reasons behind infidelity, read Why People Cheat in Relationships.

Emotional Affairs save your marriage

How to Save Your Relationship From the Destruction of an Emotional Affair

The good news, Dr Phil says, is that an “affair of the heart” doesn’t have anything to do with the spouse. The bad news is ALSO, he says, that the affair of the heart doesn’t have anything to do with the spouse!

People who have emotional affairs have their own personal reasons, which have little to do with their partner or spouse. This doesn’t absolve the partner of all responsibility; it means that the partner may have little control over the reasons for the emotional cheating.

Are you scared and depressed, reading about emotional affairs? Know that when handled the right way, the aftermath of cheating can actually strengthen your marriage and bring you closer than ever before. It does take time and effort, though – and at the end of this article I share a fantastic resources for dealing with the aftermath of emotional affairs in marriage. You can turn it around and fall in love with your husband again.

How emotional affairs harm relationships

Although emotional affairs often do not include physical intimacy or sex, they can take away from your marriage. Emotional infidelity encourages  one partner to get his emotional needs met elsewhere, in another person. This brings secrecy and deception into your marriage, which damages trust just as surely as if your husband had slept with the other person.

In fact, some people say that an emotional affair is “worse” than physical infidelity because it involves the heart. An emotional connection is more powerful than a sexual one! Physical intimacy goes away; friendship is a stronger, more lasting and important bond.

3 components of emotional cheating:

  • Emotional intimacy. Husbands who are having an emotional affair shares more of his inner self, frustrations and triumphs with her than with his wife. This is a slippery slope, especially if he starts to share his dissatisfaction with his marriage with the woman he’s emotionally cheating with.
  • Secrecy and deception. If it’s an emotional affair, your husband will neglect to say, We meet every morning for coffee. Once the lying starts, the intimacy shifts farther away from the marriage.
  • Sexual chemistry. Even though your husband and the woman he’s emotionally involved with may not act on the chemistry, there is likely an unacknowledged sexual attraction.

“Often, people whose partners have emotional affairs either don’t feel like they have a right to put an end to it (after all, the other person is just a friend and not a lover), or they have to contend with the cheating person’s evasions and justifications (we work together, we’re not having an affair), and accusations that the jealousy or insecurity is not justified,” write Ronald Potter-Efron and Patricia Potter-Efron in The Emotional Affair: How to Recognize Emotional Infidelity and What to Do About It. “It can be difficult to think of an emotional affair as a problem, even if it’s causing the partner worry, jealousy, insecurity, and the loss of emotional connection to the cheating partner.”

Emotional cheating may be a warning sign of a bad relationship.

Quick tips for overcoming “affairs of the heart”:

  • Don’t discuss the affair in front of the children, family, or friends
  • Recognize that there is a point at which you have to let go of someone you love
  • Protect your children from toxic relationships
  • Acceptance on the part of the person having the emotional affair that he/she needs help
  • Decide what you want and make a commitment to doing it

If you’re struggling to overcome an emotional affair and want to be closer to your partner, read When You Feel Alone in Your Marriage – Emotional Disconnection.

Sometimes, one partner thinks the friendship is innocent – there’s nothing wrong with having lunch or coffee with his opposite-sex friend! All they do is talk, and neither are attracted to the other. And he may be right: the friendship is totally innocent.

But, if his partner is upset or threatened by the friendship, then it needs to end. I think we need to do all we can to help our partners feel supported, loved, and secure – even if that means letting go of innocent friendships.

Relationship Help for Emotional Affairs

Read Chatting or Cheating by Sheri Meyers, especially if you suspect you’re dealing with an emotional affair in your relationship.

In this book, you’ll learn how to…

Emotional Affairs Versus Innocent Friendships

  • Become “emotional affair aware,” and stop denying what’s really going on.
  • Identify the most common infidelity warning signs, breeding grounds, and relationship vulnerabilities.
  • Gather the proper evidence and recognize the often subtle clues that your partner is cheating, so you can confront them in the right way and get to the truth as quickly as possible.
  • Confess the truth without breaking your partner’s heart (if you’re the one having the emotional affair).
  • End the emotional affair, break the addiction, and stop the obsessing.
  • Learn specific, proven tips and strategies for eliminating unwanted thoughts, moving on, forgiving yourself and embarking on reconciliation with your primary partner.
  • Survive the betrayal, heal your heart, and restore the trust, no matter how betrayed and angry you feel, or how impossible it may seem right now.
  • Repair your relationship, revitalize your romance, create genuine intimacy, and safely love again.

Have you or your partner had an emotional affair? How did it affect your relationship? Comments welcome below. I can’t offer advice on emotional affairs versus innocent friendships, but it may help you to share your experience.

Faith isn’t about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out. 

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45 thoughts on “How to Save Your Marriage From an Emotional “Affair of the Heart””

  1. We have been together for 19 years. 5 years ago he told me he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore. I tried to make him change his mind at no avail. According to him, He watches porn just because it is healthy! He is actually having an emotional affair with a co-worker who is married. I confronted him, he denies it. I called her and asked her why she was calling him all the time in a very nice way and she said he was just a nice person who helped her. They talk early in the AM, during the day and in the pm before she gets home. I have never heard their conversations but have read many texts. They are not sexual but are extremely friendly. They work together very often and I can’t control it. He says that is part of his job, that I am too jealous, and see things. He lies constantly. She has called while I am present and when I tell him if is not going to pick up, he responds “it’s a robocall! He just did it 3 days ago in front of my daughter with no remorse. He lied so calmly. Then when I get upset, I get quiet, he starts offering gifts and trying to be over nice to me. Am I imagining this or is it real? What should I do? Should I call her husband? Tell their boss? Please help me!

  2. My partner( we have been together for 18 years but not married), is having an emotional affair with a co-worker. They talk on the phone several times a day, she is married, so she texts him all the time. I have seen texts at 6 am when I am sleeping and possibly her husband is sleeping as well. She is a saleswoman, my partner is management and sometimes they work together. They find the way. He texts her in front if me she sends messages to him that are are cute, even videos if songs she like. he even lent her money once. Of course he denies everything. I called her once and she denied everything as well. According to her, “he is very nice and helpful “. I don’t trust him any more. They were texting at the dr’s office when he came eith me because I am havings surferies due to chronic kidney disease.
    He travels constantly and I don’t know if they see each other. Don’t know hiw to confront him because he gets very angry. I am just giving up. My heart is broken. He had betrayed myme eith a married woman.

  3. My husband is having an emotional affair, there I’ve said it, I say it out loud every day.
    He denies it, obviously. Does not want a divorce or for me to leave.
    Affairs of the heart far worse than physical!
    Confiding in another woman rather then me , even getting emotional support elsewhere is a betrayal.
    I love him so much, but know he won’t stop
    He has a narcissistic side, I’m almost using this as an excuse, I know
    I was once on the receiving end, now all I get is the gaslighting, can only assume she’s bring love bombed.
    Desperately seeking help, but as I’m supported by him, there’s no end
    All you ever want is someone to believe you

    1. CSP,

      I feel your pain..

      THis is the storey of my life at the moment.. My partner is female, but cant stop messaging a guy who started facebooking her.. She started to delete the messages, but i clocked one, and pulled her up on it. Alls this did was force her closerr to him, and she spend 3 days solid sending him messages. ( but deleting every one ) I told him to back off, but this just made things worse..

      What i find interesting is the narcissistic comment. I am convinced my partner has vunerable NPD. We tried councilling, but it is no use as whatever boundaries we got set, she broke them. Ironically i had a private chat with the counciller who mentioned that she shows traits of cluster B disorder..

      If i bring anything up, i am the bad guy – it always gets turned back on me.. She will never admit any responsibilty.. And i know what you mean about believing you – She has told anybody and everybody that i am some kind of nut case who just keep checking up on her, and am a controll freak becuase i keep trying to tell her who not to talk to.. She doesnt get that sending hundreds of messages to a guy, but deleting them ( and denying it ) isnt something that happens in a healthy relationship – so i feel for you !

  4. When my husband asked me to marry him I told him there was an issue that we needed to discuss before I could answer him. He was always talking to a girl that’s been a friend since we’ve known each other. I told him I know he loved me but I felt as if he was in love with her. He said he wasn’t and that he’d end the friendship. I told him no, I didn’t want him to stop his friendship, just to either include me in on this friendship or at least let me know when they talk on the phone. He said he would just end the friendship. Long story short – I found out they had made over 600 phone calls to each other from 2 days after the engagement into 3 1/2 months of our marriage…in 11 months time. I also found out they had been meeting for lunch while I was at work…even at new restaurants my husband has never even taken me to. Needless to say we split for a few weeks while I could decide what I wanted to do. We’ve gotten back together…but I don’t trust him – to a point that I’ve been secretly recording him while I’m at work. He is texting most of the day (he’s retired). He barely does a thing around the house due to time being spent on his – oh, forgot to mention – his OTHER phone. I haven’t been able to find it but I hear it all day long. In between the texting he talks to his sister on his “primary” phone and does nothing but put me down and lies about things I do or don’t do. Then he acts so innocent when I return home as if he’s so very happy to see me. What is wrong with him?!?! I can’t do this anymore. I’ll never trust him. I haven’t since he was caught the first time. I want out of my marriage – my marriage that is based on lies. I don’t know how to tell him since I don’t like confrontation. I know we’ll end up in an argument and I really just want to part ways…and never speak to him again. What can I do?

  5. It feels like my life is over because of my husband’s emotional affair. It went on for at least 8 months. I am devastated. I am sick over the situation and feel like I will never be good enough, ever. All I am is a joke and a loser. I don’t think either of them even care.

    1. I read and read stuff about emotional affairs but never post anything it happened to me long story 3 years on I still don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Please be assured you are far from a joke and they are the ones who need pitying for their lack of integrity respect for you.. I’m hoping because it’s a while since you posted that the pain they caused is lessening. One day he’ll look back and realize the grass wasn’t greener and he let a good woman slip away. You will have the last laugh as she will move on when bored or finds someone else’s life to mess up and he’ll be alone. You might be alone but I’d rather be alone with my self respect morals and integrity in tact keep smiling

  6. I discovered 8 months ago my husband of 31 years had been having an emotional affair with his deceased best friends wife whom was also a dear friend of mine. It began only a few short weeks after his friends passing. I found out about a year and half later. My husband continues to say it was only casual conversation and only joked about sex a few times. I have over 3500 text messages and numerous phone calls which at times took place at 2, 3, 4am and 9, 10, 11 pm. Many text coversations began when my husband left for work and continued throughout the day as well as whenever I was away from our home or even when I was in the shower. I have not been able to get over this because I know in my heart he is not being honest with me. I love him with my entire being and he has done everything he can to prove his love for me but I’m having a very difficult time. They snuck around like lovesick teenagers whenever they good and I’m completely disgusted but can’t bring myself to leave him. He states there was never any physical activity with the exception of a friendly hug and peck on the cheek at times. If it was so innocent why the secrecy? Secrecy from both of them. I feel completely broken and cannot seem to lift myself out of this.

  7. I have a live in partner for 15 years, last year his boss and college friend give him a job. They have a training in manila and they live in the condo for almost one month. he cannot try to communicate us, no text, no call. i think he is having an emotional affair of the heart. i try to smile and ignore my feelings after the training. our love making is different i feel the coldness. last april his friend is come back from US, her boss is american citizen. i dont know what too do, i see the sparkle in his eyes and smile on his lips when everytime he talks about her boss. it causes me a lot of pain and stress.

  8. I feel ashamed to admit I am having an emotional affair with a long lost love. I have been married for 20years to a lovely man, we have three beautiful children together. All was well in our marriage until four years ago our daughter almost died from anorexia. My husband couldn’t cope very well and emotionally shut down. I went through utter despair, I have tried connecting, complementing him, appreciating him, giving him the space he wanted. I have tried everything in my power but he fails to fulfil my emotional needs at any level. I reduced my expectations to virtually zero so I wouldn’t bear the disappointment. In truth I am heartbroken and he has refused counselling. When my old flame and I reconnected he fills the gap. My emotional needs are met by him and my confidence and self esteem have grown. He too is married and enjoys the connection with me to support him in his marriage. We are both fully committed to our spouses. However I no longer feel guilty as when my husband rejects me yet again I can cope with it knowing my needs are met elsewhere.

  9. I hope this thread is still active, because I have a recent issue that has left me hollow and uncertain. My wife of 10+ yrs has recently instigated an emotional affair with what I assumed to be a mutual friend. It is a coworker of hers who she wanted to make a mutual friend approximately 18 months ago. Both my wife and this friend suffer emotional issues(him PTSD, her severe depression and cutting) and they seemed a good fit not just for each other, but our relationship as well. For months everything was great. The worm turned in August of 2016, when she started blurring lines….how to correct his kids, who he should/shouldn’t date and so on. I was ALMOST always present, and while uncomfortable wrote it off to her intense control personality. Quickly and quietly, their texting communication has culminated to well over 30+ a day, including good morning/good night texts. She can’t go a day without contact, even on recent vacations. The time spent together without me present has increased as well, even if mundane(grocery shopping, car pooling) or not (showing up hrs before I can for scheduled group things, helping him more with his kids interests). It came to a head a week or so ago when I had left my phone in the car, and because she couldn’t reach me for a few hrs I was accused of cheating. As I found out the very next day it was her guilty conscious. After texts till 11 pm the night before and a 7:30 am that morning, I was impelled to see what was so important. I didn’t scroll very far at all when I see 2 nude photos and a hearty emoticon text saying I could be showering with you. I lost it. On the day you accuse me of cheating YOU did THIS?!?! To be clear, he did not respond in kind, yet there was no text of offense to it either. She has apologised and admitted it was wrong, but more in the context of a simple accident then the extreme breach of trust that it is, claiming it was meant for me. Yet both my wife and friend know this happens and no one felt obligated to clue me in??? I do truly believe no physical contact has been made…YET…but does that really matter? I laid down the gauntlet of him or me, and she used her cutting against me, saying she would hurt herself. Against my better judgment it has been whittled down to supervised texts and nothing else, which she wasted barely a day breaking, meeting him at his house while I was at work to pick up stuff ordered from his kids school. He has been man enough to offer to walk away and she refuses to let him, stating she doesn’t feel obligated to end this friendship because I’m suddenly jealous. Since she has agreed to counseling, she can’t understand why I can’t let it go and let the entire situation “go back to normal”. Since the episode I have tried giving her the attention she claims to have been missing, only to be rebuffed as clingy, possessive and suffocating. I feel as if I’m making all the effort, and she can’t even show remorse or the attempt at trying. It’s barely been a week since the incident, so maybe I want too much too soon, but as far gone as this feels can marriage counseling save it? I really love my wife, and want to be married yet I’m not seeing her doing the same. Today is the first day I see this mutual “friend”, and she has begged me profusely not to say or do anything that will make him pull away. Is she too far gone in this EA (which is starting to appear a 1 sided one at that) to be reached?

    1. Hi Patrick –

      Sorry for going through this. Here is what I have learned through my pain the last 2 years. Your spouse should not put themselves in a situation that would make either of your uncomfortable. Relationships with the opposite sex just don’t work. There is always a boundary that is too easy to cross, even when it comes to innocent flirting. The friendship is inappropriate. Its creating a problem when there doesn’t have to be one. Going to lunch as a group is safe. Going to lunch just the two of you is intimate, close, so why do it? Go as a group and keep the boundary firm. Help him in other ways, not at his house, where a private boundary has been crossed. I wonder if the boundary has already been crossed about physical intimacy. I know it was crossed in my situation when i thought it was just an emotional affair. Numerous text messages a day. And they rarely talked on the phone. They saw each other at work, texted and eventually started meeting outside of work. Even text messages lead to a boundary being crossed. You are sharing things you should be sharing with your spouse. And yes, the nude pics were for him, not you. I think therapy would be good, especially since she previously had issues. Its not fair of her to throw that back at you. She does need her space, but she is going to find comfort in him. This is why some couples separate. Absence makes her miss you. Or you will find your answer that she chooses him in the end.

  10. If your husband can’t see or won’t accept the fact that an emotional affair with another woman outside your marriage is toxic, then I don’t know what to suggest. You can’t force him to see reality….or to care about your feelings.

    Amy, you say that if the roles were reversed and you were causing your husband pain, you’d never continue doing it.

    But, can’t you see that your husband isn’t affected by your feelings? You yourself said you participated in stuff you didn’t want to do but you did to keep your husband around and happy….. and you said it was a big mistake.

    You do know what to do, but you can’t admit the truth to yourself. You say you’re tired of feeling heartbroken and you love him…but you can’t see the truth about how your husband feels about you.

    So, what benefit are you getting from continuing to struggle in a marriage that is toxic with mistakes, emotional affairs, and ongoing problems?

    What are you not willing to do to change? What are you willing to do?

    This is about you, not about your husband. Take your focus off him. Look at yourself. It’s time for you to take charge of your life and start making decisions that empower and strengthen you. You can’t change your husband…you can only change you.

    Here’s a great resource for women who need to build emotional strength:

    Emotional Chaos to Clarity: Move from the Chaos of the Reactive Mind to the Clarity of the Responsive Mind

    Author Phillip Moffitt shows us that by cultivating a responsive mind rather than a reactive one, we can achieve a state of emotional clarity that allows us to act with a calm mind and a loving heart. He teaches us how to be strong and powerful in our lives – starting with our emotions.

    It’ll take work, but you CAN learn how to cope with whatever the future brings for you and your husband!

  11. My husband had an emotional affair with a female (married) coworker 10+ years ago. He cut ties, and we moved forward repairing our marriage. (Although this subject has been slowly killing me inside since the affair was brought to my attention )
    recently, he told me that he wants me to be “ok” with him having a “friendship” with her, and he needs someone other than me to confide in and talk to…… They still work together, offices right next to one another and I feel like he doesn’t understand how painful this subject is to me. I just can’t mentally go through this again. I’ve had 2 therapists tell me this relationship is toxic to our marriage, when I told that to him, he blew up at me. 3 kids later, almost 25 years together I’m afraid, scared and don’t know what to do. This has been keeping me up most nights as well as crying my self to sleep. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I’m tired of feeling heartbroken and I love him. Help!

    1. My honest opinion. Woman to woman. There is something in her companionship he likes/needs. And he is willing to risk your relationship, trust, and feelings for a friend. I’m curious after 10 years you were ablexpecting to mend and move forward and suddenly he recanted. I understand the always wondering, hurting…perhaps it’s time to set yourself free from a partner who is unable to be empathetic to your needs as his spouse.

      1. Hi JD,
        It feels like something has drastically changed. I feel like we were stronger about 2 years ago and we both were protecting our marriage from crap like this. Over the past year, I have participated in stuff I didn’t want to do, but did to keep the peace, him around and happy….. (big mistake ).

        Yes, suddenly he recanted and started throwing her in my face again. Pushing it regardless of how heavy my heart feels and hurts. Whenever I try to bring closure to this subject, it rears it’s ugly head again, and somehow I’m at fault! I don’t get it, if roles were reversed, and I caused him pain, I’d never revisit that place. Is there something I’m missing in your opinion?

  12. My husband was having an emotional affair with a co-worker. It ended last May after they both had too much alcohol to drink at his retirement party. She was telling everyone about out finances as it related to retirement. Before that my husband and co-workers went out to Happy Hour and she was in attendance . He knew I didn’t approve and would lie about her being there. Bottom line, we are three months out from the end of the affair. I confronted her and several other friends regarding this mess. She told me she likes to flirt and sees these men as special friends because she makes them feel better? After the affair was broken off, our home was vandalized the next day. Police were called, statements taken. The Police said it was a domestic issue and told my husband and I and then her husband and her boyfriend (yes that is correct ) to stop this or someone could be arrested or worst. I thought our retirement. Was going to be great, be so far it’s been the opposite. Can’t forgive him, he tells me he doesn’t know what happened and didn’t want to hurt me or end our 30 yr. marriage.
    We don’t want a divorce, but looking at him everyday makes me wish I was worlds away.

  13. JD,

    Thanks for your input.

    Good to know that you put your husband’s feelings first. I hope that your marriage is well and the bond between you two will only strengthen from now on.

    A gift for her birthday was acceptable. But a dress was just too personal in my opinion. And the parcel that arrived in the house that morning? Don’t even know if it was from him, but it seems like he knew more about it than I did.

    I would love to talk to her calmly about things, somehow my attempts would trigger her and she would lose her temper. To make things worse, some of her friends were accusing me of adultery. Their reason being, ‘He must have done something, why else would he be so paranoid?’

    This is the second time this has happened. The first time was before we tied the knot. She got too close to her coach, even took a trip with him alone to another part of the country without my knowledge. When I found out about it and showed my disapproval, she started yelling and said I didn’t trust her. To be honest, I really do not know if my jealousy was the cause of my marital demise, or her lack of boundaries.

    It is too late to save my marriage. She has moved on and keeps telling me that we are done. I need to get help and fix my head. My friends have tried talking to her, she told them to respect her wishes. Perhaps, I am not suitable to be in a romantic relationship. A man who cannot tell if his partner is faithful or otherwise, should not be in one.

  14. Thank you, Erinat1210, for your feedback on innocent friendships versus emotional affairs! I agree with you — it can be a huge mistake to let a partner dictate our friendships. Especially if the partner is abusive and jealous.

    I’m so proud of you for breaking free of that marriage! You are courageous and strong, and you stood up for yourself. You are a wonderful example of freedom and strength, and I hope your positive energy spills over onto everyone reading these comments.

    Relationships can be confusing – especially when we’re in the middle of them, and our partners are emotionally controlling or manipulative. Abusive men will say or do anything to control women.

    Here’s an article to help you see whether your relationship is healthy (but rocky because of the “innocent friendships vs emotional affairs” issue) or abusive:

    Signs of an Abusive Relationship You Should Never Ignore


  15. “…But, if his partner is upset or threatened by the friendship, then it needs to end. I think we need to do all we can to help our partners feel supported, loved, and secure – even if that means letting go of innocent friendships…”

    I do not agree with this statement. My husband was jealous of EVERY friendship I had, whether it was with a girlfriend or a guy friend. He was so jealous, he even sabotaged employment opportunities. I did do away with innocent friendships to spare his feelings for years only to realize I ended isolated and a prisoner in my own home. I got fed up and sought out new friendships but this time I HAD no other option but to hide them. AND there was absolutely no talking about it because then in his mind, I wanted to have an affair. I felt insane. He dropped little hints like he knew what I was doing because people who knew him would tell him what, where and who I was talking to. So I decided to start speaking up to new friends about this abuse I was feeling. Questioning “Is this abuse?” Alot of people said it’s not good to share private relationship issues. That gave him fuel to make claims that he was my victim.
    Finally I said “Speak up…hell yea…especially if it’s abuse. And that’s what it was. He used every “Boo Hoo” ploy to abuse me. Why? Because he could. After 15 years of hell, I am finally free.

    1. Seems like most comments here are left by women. My wife decided to pull the plug on our marriage due to my jealousy and emotional immaturity. She also thought I was emotional abusive. Maybe you can shed some light on my situation.

      First off, let me admit that my marriage has not always been all rainbow and sunshine. We have our differences when it comes to parenting, finance etc. I have good female friends from before I even met my wife, I am still good friends with them, but we don’t keep in close touch.

      Anyway, here it goes. She got back in touch with a former high school friend of hers a couple of years ago. Nothing unusual until she received a dress from him for her birthday. Soon after, texts started flying back and forth between them everyday. I wasn’t happy with it, but my concerns were brushed off. They did things together without my knowledge, I only learned about those outings from the pictures on one of her mobile devices. I started questioning her with increasing frequency. I asked her nicely if she could just ignore his texts, mind you, they were rolling in multiple times a day. I have only seen a few of those texts, nothing flirty. She said she couldn’t understand why her female friends could text her on a daily basis but not this guy. Understand though, I wasn’t the only person who could sense that he is into her.

      Things blew up one night when a message came in, from the same person regarding a parcel that arrived in the house that exact morning. I never saw the content, only the empty box. I asked her again to ignore his texts and how she would feel if another girl was texting me at such proximity, to which she replied, ‘It’s not my problem if there isn’t!’

      Suggestions to marriage counselling were denied. So here I am, still licking my wounds months later. Good thing is that I am slowly regaining my sanity. Still can’t help but think that everyone is just pretending to be loyal when they are sleeping with one another in secret. So what caused the demise of my marriage? My jealousy? Or were boundaries crossed?

      1. Travis,

        My opinion, boundaries were crossed. My husband is the jealous type as well. I too have a few male friends but we a. Never text b. Never go out and c. Talk on the phone. We do however a. Make public Facebook comments like “oh your kids so cute, or omg cubs come on. B. May go out as a group/couples outing. That’s it.

        Friendships of the opposite sex are extremely dangerous. Even if your wife has not crossed the line of affair, it’s obvious the other man is giving her gifts and presents for a reason or goal.

        You mentioned your marriage wasn’t all rainbows. I would look at the bigger picture of why she needs all that attention from someone else as well. Does she give you presents, or take you out, or text you, or do little things for you….AND vice versa…do you give her gifts, take her out, etc. Marriages become stale, same old same old, and someone new enters the picture and gives us attention, and well….we as women like it and I’m sure men do too.

        So, look at how you two were really treating each other and consider if she is worth fighting for. Do you want to save your marriage because it is falling apart by this other guy.

        Again, this is a dangerous game she’s playing and it’s not ok. The sheer fact it makes you uncomfortable so her husband and best friend should carry enough clout for her to end a friendshiproblem with a single man. Its not ok for either partner to have friendly relationships.

  16. One thing I never did was ask my partner to promise never to see the woman again. I told him that if he wanted someone else then our relationship had already ended. I dont want a man who i know wants someone else!! It would be soul destroying! He cut it off himself. No way would i ask any partner of mine to be with only me!! Its a given!!!! It would be humiliating for me to say it. Its like saying im not worth him choosing me! Thats why its so wrong of them to force you into the position without choice.

  17. I am grateful in a way because the emotional affair being discovered caused a crises that led to a reconnection that i know would never have occurred otherwise.
    I was shocked and dreadfully hurt that i found out accidently. Following feelings of anger and devestation, i began to think about how this could have happened. Although i do not blame myself for what happened, i could understand that a need that was not met within our relationship existed. I want to blame my partner here but I cannot. I tried to fix things, i couldnt. So maybe he couldnt. We didnt know how. This forced us to look long and hard at what we wanted and what we needed to do to get there.
    The thing i find hardest is that my partner is not who i thought he was. My beliefs about him were proved wrong. The lying and colluding were directly aimed at me. My rights were violated and i was forced to be a victim with no choice given to me. I feel as if that is what i find painful still. Its one thing to say things to each other but another to allow someone else to join in treating you like you are insignificant. Finally the emotional connection, intamacy and affection shared between them made me feel confused, rejected and insecure because i didnt get anything like that from him and couldnt see how this could be if i was loved and this person was not. It took a lot of communication and introspection to find the answers.
    Our relationship has changed. All the little things that were wrong have writed themselves since we reconnected emotionally. Doing things together, talking, Intamy, affection, understanding, support and an effort to show appreciation for the other seem easy to do now. The bickering (and im ashamed to say, name valling has stopped) i dont feel angry tense sad or frustrated. I feel happy and contented. His anger over (seemingly) everything has dissapated. We are even laughing together again.
    Im still hurt though but i no longer see any gain in lashing out at him and i have to deal with it myself. It was hurtful and itll take some time before the pain is dulled. Ive reacted in the way that is best for me and that is what matters. We have been together nearly 30yrs and this was not typical behaviour from him. I can say with some confidence it wont happen again because our needs are being fulfilled within our relationship and we are both are best at being aBle to do that for each other. But i can now also say that he is capable of it so it is possible if unlikely.
    Ive learned trust is not the same as knowing. Trust is not knowing something as a certainty, but having enough reason to put your faith in believing something.
    In conclusion, its been a tough and confusing journey and im still on it. Emotional affairs are definatey as life changing as any other type of intimacy that should not be shared outside the marriagwle/relationship. Im not sure that sex would have been more hurtful considering it doesnt nessasarily involve any emotional connection. For me personally, its the emotion involved that i find most threatening. People can be attracted to others. Its normal. No one can help that. Sex can happen in a. Instant. Emotional connection takes time and some amount of feeling. I think that is more painful.

  18. Read His Needs Her Needs by William Hartley. You’ll be amazed. Also Not Just Friends is another good resource to learn about emotional affairs and innocent friendships.

  19. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for being here! It takes strength and courage to share your personal experience with emotional affairs. You are helping other readers see that they’re not alone. There is comfort in that, even if there aren’t any answers.

    I can’t offer advice, but here’s a link to an article I just wrote, to help you move past the emotional affairs (or the innocent friendships) in your marriage:

    6 Ways to Rebuild Trust in Your Husband After Infidelity

    May your marriage be blessed with peace, joy, and reconnection. May your love rebuild, and may you and your husband both be willing to work on regaining trust in your relationship.


  20. I feel my husband of 6.5 yrs is having an emotional affair with his female co-worker (she is married too). I met her on few occasions and know that they are good friends. He told me that he picks up and drops her home as it is on the way. I was ok with it. But now I see he calls her when we are on a vacation. We have not been intimate for sometime and thought we will use the vacation to get intimate again. But his calling her turned me off and I told him that it was very insensitive of him. He apologised. But now I see that they have been chatting on whatsup. That was nothing knew and nothing incriminating on that. But what’s puzzling me is that he has been clearing out conversations with her. That looks very suspicious to me and this was not the first time he cleared his conversations with her. When I confronted him about it, he says, that he didnt want me to get upset that he was still chatting with her. That makes no sense as I know that he is still picking and dropping her home and they spend the better part of day at work together. So I do know he is still talking to her. Then why this statement that he clears conversation not because there is something incriminating in it, but just he does not want me upset?? This was last night. We are thinking of going for another baby (I have a 2.5 yr old). Now this kind of behaviour makes me doubt if I should bring another child into this. He left notes on the fridge today morning saying not to look for something that is not there and me and my son are his life. I am very confused and upset. Is he having an emotional affair but does not realize it? Or is he lying to me??

    1. Oh my gosh this is an exact replica of my life right now only we have no children and we been married 3 years together for the last 8 this is my first marriage and it hurts. I would love to talk to talk to you and compare notes about emotional affairs and innocent friendships.

  21. My live-in boyfriend of 10.5 years had an emotional affair with his ex-girl friend he went out with for 13 years. About 4 years ago I went through menopause, and was in no mood for sexual encounters! I never knew this would happen. Perhaps I should have gone to the doctor to take care of this problem, but I did not. Anyway, to make a long, long story short. He left his cell phone home twice the first time I called the # (not out of suspicion) just to be polite to the caller. it was his ex and she was very nice to me and told me a few things regarding her daughters health. I told her I hope things were better with her daughter and we hung up. The 2nd time he left it home (approx) 3 weeks later same deal, but there were 2 missed calls from her. I asked him when he returned home, how often do you talk with her? He said once a month or about every 6 weeks. Which I knew about and I was alright with. Anyway by this time I wanted to be intimate with him, and he denied me about 3 or 4 times saying I have conformed to your ways. I read on the internet to look at his call log. It took me about 1 month to get the code when the phone was left alone on the nightstand next to the bed. I got the code logged in to his account and I was absolutely shocked!!!!! They were talking everyday for the last 18 months (I know it was going on longer) from anywhere 10 minutes to 40 minutes at a time. He was actually having the nerve to ignore my calls and just continue on to talk to her. I should have waited and gotten as much information as I could before I confronted him, but I was so furious, hurt, and felt so betrayed… I confronted him the minute he walked in the door, and told him I will not play seconds to any other woman I know you have been talking to her for x amount of time etc… You have a big choice to make he came back and said he wanted to be with me. I know more happened then is being told, he won’t admit anything. Needless to say for the last 8 months have been nothing but arguments ugly words being said. I’m done!! This is my house and I am going to kick him to the curb! Thanks for reading. Regards, Christine

  22. My husband of 9 years had an emotional affair when I was 9 months pregnant. I discovered “her” because of my husband constantly texting someone, then he said he was going to visit a coworker in the hospital but didn’t want me to go, then stayed out all night drunk and called to say he was spending the night in a hotel. I found receipts for restaurants and a clothing store around Christmas. I didn’t get any clothes from this store. The night he got drunk I texted him, 9 months pregnant and cursed at him. Everything clicked. I looked up our cell phone records and found hundreds and hundreds of texts from a mysterious number. With some detective work and Facebook creeping it was a coworker of his. I confronted him and he got upset about snooping, shutdown, ignored me and locked himself in our bedroom. He said he wanted space. Keep in mind I am 9 months pregnant and we already have a 7 year old. I tried to be as calm as possible. Finally he told me he didn’t know if he loves me anymore but she has nothing to do with our current predicament. Which is in part true. I was a bad wife. We did not go out, we were not intimate, things were not going well. But just prior to getting pregnant I was determined to fix that and make it right. We were doing things, being together, etc. But then first trimester hit and I was ready to sleep by 6pm! And boom, he shut me out, I shut him out. So for a solid month, I thought he was leaving. I tried to talk, but he wasn’t interested. One night we had a good talk. But he said he wasn’t ready to talk about her. So basically, he admitted to liking her, talking to her, etc. And on this night my water broke. I was so alone. Oh he was by my side. He was there. But I was alone. Its 6 months later and he is still around. We talk. He apologized. I am working on being an awesome wife. But truth be told. I will never know what happened those 2 months with her. They no longer text or call. But he’s not here. I can tell. I think its only a matter of time. So for me…don’t take advantage of your spouse, appreciate them, my poor wife skills this is what happened. Now, don’t get me wrong…he did wrong, not me. But it was a great self reflection on me as a wife.

    1. Changing yourself, becoming an awesome wife, is good to do for your own personal growth. I just don’t want you to have a false sense of security in the idea that these things will ultimately change your marriage, stop the emotional cheating. I started out being the most awesome wife….my husband said I used to be “cool” but no matter how hard I tried, he just rejected me little by little. I know what you mean, when he’s there but not there. Mine has been emotionally absent for a long time. Noe that I’ve become so depressed by the way he treats me, I’ve started to make it known that things are wrong. It seems he’s had atleast one FB conversation going on with another woman, texting, even someone he feels the need to “help” with moving, auto repairs, etc. Seems he always has at least one going. He gets bored of one (or she realizes he’s married) and searches out another. Or I find out and make a big deal out of it. The one thing I’d notice, if it wasn’t innocent, and produced guilty feelings, he wouldn’t chat with her on my birthday, mothers day, anniversary…the most *special* days. This has been a pattern for years. They like using blame because it relieves some of the guilt for them. If you only wanted to go out (this is one I hear) but yet, when I would want to go somewhere or visit a mutual friend, he had a headache, something would “come up”, we would conveniently get into a fight, or use an excuse…took too long, I wouldn’t go anyway….I didn’t keep the house well enough–even though I’d try so hard even dealing with him tracking dirt all over freshly mopped floors, discarding clothes around the house, didn’t make dinner enough, it goes on and on. I’m tired of being the blame. I’ve had to realize that nothing I do will solve the lack of commitment he has.

  23. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how an “innocent friendship” is affecting your relationship. Emotional affairs are insidious – they tend to creep up slowly, without anyone noticing. Then suddenly your boyfriend or husband is emotionally attached to another woman and you’re left out.

    May you and your partner reconnect, and find each other again. I hope you and he decide to put each other first, and that he walks away from the emotional friendship he has. My prayer is for peace and strength as you rebuild your relationship. May you find joy in each other, and focus on moving forward as a couple.


  24. We have been married 15 years. My husband got a part time job about a year ago. He always talked about a group of friends then suddenly I noticed only one female coworkers name continuously coming up. I asked about this person. She is half our age with 2 small children. My husband had been talking/texting this person nearly 24hours a day. Anytime I was asleep or out of his presence they talked. I was later told he initially attempted to have sex with her and she said no because he was married. They then pursued this friendship. He has run errands for her, done things with her kids, etc. It is very reminiscent of how we got together. Single mom, hard working with small kids. He says if there is no sex, there is no affair. She said if she wanted him she could have had him. Help

  25. Ever since we had our second child in February my husband has shut down. He won’t tell me anything, disappears on fishing trips with people I hardly know. Now I saw some weird texts, reminiscent from when he was courting me. When I called the number a woman answered. I hung up.

    I asked my husband and he said it was just the girlfriend of one of the guys and I had met her and they wanted to ret the kayaks from us soon (his own business). But he said he hardly talked to her anyway and promises to stop talking to her.

    Then I saw more texts and phone calls. Always when was out night fishing or when I would leave for work. He denied it and blew up at me for “snooping”.

    Now just last night I saw more texts and phone calls after he told me he was going out and wouldn’t tell me where. He exploded! Said its none of my business and he can talk to whoever he wants and he says he’ll never tell me who she really is and that I’m delusional and even though I showed him the all log he kept saying “I never called her I never called her”

    What do I do? He has completely shut me out and I’m packing mine and the kids thins because this just hurts so bad.

  26. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Mialynn,

    It is so devastating and shocking to find out your husband has been having an emotional affair – and lying to your face about it! I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience. You have helped other women who are coping with their own husbands’ emotional affairs.

    My prayer for you is for peace. May you come to terms with your husband’s betrayal, and find the best way for you to cope with it. You know what’s best for you; I pray for courage, strength, and acceptance as you re-evaluate your marriage and your life. I pray that you find the confidence you need to rise above this terrible shock, and the support you need to start moving forward in positive ways. May you confide in wise people who will walk alongside you as you heal, and may you find the right resources to guide you as you make difficult decisions about your life.

    Above all, I pray for hope and faith. May you renew your connection with God, and know that He is working out all things for the good of those who love Him.


  27. Thank you all for being here and sharing. I have been married for 25 years. About 5 years ago red flags and alarm bells started going off for me , and after confronting my husband on several occasions, last night it came to light that he ends up having an emotional affair with any female he works closely with. The first time i confronted him, he lied to me for 1.5 years. I’m pretty sure he is related to Clinton. This part I’m not proud of but I was literally going crazy. After 1.5 years of knowing he was lying to me he finally confessed, but only because I confessed that I had put Spyware on his phone before the first confrontation. Not only was he sharing personal and confidential information with her, inviting her to bring him a beer when no one was home, hiding lunch and after work “meetings”, he was trash talking about me. I no longer have spyware on his phone so now I’m just going with my gut. I came to realize (was blindsided really) that a long time friendship with a older now former Coworker became yet another emotional affair, which includes trash talking about me and how stupid I was being about his friendship with his two female employees. I have attended her family functions with my husband as well as she attending ours with her husband so I never suspected. Last night with only my gut feeling I confronted him and my gut was right on. I am so hurt I have no words. I feel so incredibly stupid. My self-confidence is in the negative and I rarely leave the house. These 3 relationships are not going to end, 2 still work for him and the 3rd lives down the street. For 20 years I believed we had the perfect marriage, bragged about how we rarely fought, and how I awesome I thought he was while he was humiliating me behind my back. I’m not sure where we go from here. For several reasons I am unable to leave. I truly want to curl up in a corner and die.
    Thank you for allowing me to share.

  28. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Ophelia,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how your husband’s friendship makes you feel. Even if you know they’re not having an emotional affair – it’s just an innocent friendship – I can see how it might make you uncomfortable. I don’t think I’d like it if my husband was close friends with a woman, or had a close friendship that didn’t include me.

    I can’t give advice on how to convince your husband to change his mind about this friendship, or how you can accept the relationship and not let it destroy your marriage. But I’m happy to say a little prayer for you and your husband!

    My prayer for you and your husband is for peace and connection. May he understand how uncomfortable it is for you, and may he see his friendship through your eyes. I pray that you and he come to an agreement about what role this friendship should play in your lives. May he realize anew how much he loves you and your children, and may he put you and them first. My prayer is that he prioritizes his marriage to you, even when he doesn’t understand why you feel the way you do. I pray for peace and protection in your marriage, for security and a love that surpasses all understanding. Amen.


  29. I’m in this kind of situation with my husband. We have been married almost 3 yrs and have 3 beautiful children but in the last 4 months he has recently started hanging out with a female co-work who at first never bothered me until they have been constantly texting, snapchatting, playing sports together. He has told me they are just friends nothing more. But he is clueless on how she brings out my insecurities. I have told him how she makes me feel and he doesn’t seem to care. I would like for him to end that friendship but I don’t see that happening. So how do I accept this relationship and not have it destroy my marriage?

  30. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    If you suspect your partner is having an emotional affair – not just an innocent friendship with someone of the opposite sex – I pray for clarity and guidance in your relationship. I can’t tell you what to do; only you know yourself and your partner. Only you know what the best decision for you is – nobody can or should tell you what to do in a relationship where emotional affairs – or any type of cheating – is suspected.

    May you take a deep breath, and spend time sitting in silence. Connect with your heart and soul. What do you think you should do? Who do you want to spend the rest of your life with? How do you want your relationship to unfold? You don’t have the power to make everything exactly the way you want, but you do have options. May you see your options clearly, and feel compelled to choose the possibility that is healthy, wise, and life-giving. May you connect with God, and not lose heart. Don’t lose your faith in the future, or your hope for a happy relationship that is free of emotional affairs.


  31. I had a similar problem with my partner. He had a best friend and they used to do the same shifts at work together. So he would go back to hers for an hour for a drink at least 3 times a week and meet her in the local about once a week. He started to feel bad about leaving me on my own waiting at home for him to finish his time with her so would call on the way home to see if I was up. I always said I was. So instead of upsetting me he would say he is coming straight home when I fact he wouldn’t, so he would lie. I new something wasn’t right so looked into it further and found out he was lying. He stopped his friendship. But recently he brought it up in an arguement and told me he can’t even talk to her anymore and that I had ruined his friendship. I thought about it and decided it was a long time ago ( about a year) and maybe I should let go. So I said why don’t you go and fix your friendship with her and tell her she is more than welcome to come and see our boy (5 months old) any time. He didn’t comment. But since then he keeps mentioning her and it is upsetting me, I haven’t said anything. And I have a gut feeling he went to her house last week and has lied about it. What should I do?

  32. Hello Brent,

    I agree – it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. An emotional affair is very destructive to a relationship, and it’s always better to end the friendship totally. That said, however, I suspect there’s a reason your wife wants to talk this through with a counselor first. I don’t know what her reasons are, but hopefully she’ll be able to share them with you.

    One thing to think about…did you try telling her specifically how you feel about her continuing to be connected to the man she had the emotional affair with? Feeling disrespected is valid…but she might be more moved if you said you felt afraid, hurt, worried, uncertain — those “touchy feely” words are powerful.

    I wish you all the best as you work things through with your wife, and hope you’re able to recover from the fallout of the emotional affair.


  33. My wife had an emotional affair a few years ago. We worked through it and came back together. At the beginning of this year, I found out that she had added the man she had the affair with on facebook, instagram and twitter. She also does not allow me access to any of her social media. When I confronted her on this, she told me that it was harmless and that they had nothing between them anymore. I told her to remove him because I feel that it will break down what we are still trying to fix, that he has no right to see and read about what goes on in our family’s life, and that it feels very disrespectful to me. She told me that she will not remove him until we discuss it with a counselor. Am I crazy? Does my request seem over the top?

    1. you have a right to your feelings and stating what you wish for. Never feel that you do not have a voice. Due to this situation, i can truly understand how difficult it may be. IMO, i personally feel she is only making excuses to justify her actions. I, myself have been through the same situation and it was not until later that the main reason was to show the other person how well they are doing without them, but also leaving the door cracked. You as a husband have the right to keep your family business private. Your request is not over the top and i wish that it may one day be met. Do not settle for make excuses for her action.

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