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Many married individuals have encountered a similar dilemma. They open their spouse’s laptop and see an extremely personal email to a person they do not know. Others read text messages on their partner’s cell phone and discover flirtatious texts to his or her ex-lover. Still others may notice that their spouse seems to spend a tremendous amount of time with a certain coworker and wonder if it might be related to the high credit card bills they have been receiving. Such couples may be seeing the first signs of an emotional affair, which—if left unchecked—could lead them down the path toward a divorce.

What Is an Emotional Affair?

Marriage therapist Sheri Meyers says, “An emotional affair is essentially an affair of the heart.” Emotional affairs can take many different forms but often include flirtatious or deeply personal conversations, sharing private details about marital problems, or complaining about a current spouse’s flaws. A person engaged in an emotional affair begins to see the other person as more important than their spouse. He or she might fantasize about this individual and become distant or withdrawn at home.

Emotional Affairs are Just as Damaging as Physical Affairs

Many people engaged in emotional affairs simply do not realize that they are actually having an affair. They believe that because there is no sexual element to their relationship with this other person, it is reasonable and appropriate. This is a dangerous line of thinking for several reasons.

Nearly all physical affairs—apart from one-night flings, in most cases—begin as emotional affairs. What starts as a friendship becomes increasingly inappropriate and could eventually develop into a sexual relationship. Even without contact of a sexual nature, being involved in an emotional affair drains time and attention away from your marital relationship. Many people actually see an emotional affair as worse than a purely sexual one. To them, an emotional affair is absolutely cheating. In order for a marriage to be happy and healthy, spouses should be most involved in each other’s lives. They should be able to share thoughts and ideas openly, even about difficult topics.

A Dangerous Road

While there is nothing inherently unhealthy about having a trusted friend or confidant, when another person takes the place of your spouse, your marriage will undoubtedly suffer. Emotional affairs create the need for deception and secrecy, and offending spouses often begin holding things back from their partners. The unsuspecting spouse may become confused and feel as if they are getting the cold shoulder. As a result, he or she may start to withdraw from the relationship. In turn, the spouse having the emotional affair may lean on his or her “friend” even more. It is easy to see how this downward spiral could quickly cause the marriage to unravel.

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer

If your spouse has been carrying on an emotional affair, it may time to start thinking about a divorce. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney to discuss your options. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.