9 Warning Signs Of An Emotional Affair And What To Do About It

Written by Harini Natarajan

“Love is friendship set on fire.” – Jeremy Taylor

No wonder most emotional affairs usually begin as friendships. Deep emotional connections with no clear boundaries, harmless flirting, not keeping a check on sexual attraction, and not labeling a relationship can be catalysts that spark an emotional affair. Innocent platonic friendships can contort into an emotional affair due to many reasons. In this article, we discuss what propels people to cheat on their partner emotionally, the different stages of an emotional affair, its tell-tale signs, and what to do about it. Keep reading.

What Is An Emotional Affair?

When a partner is romantically and emotionally attached but not physically involved with another person apart from their spouse, it can be termed an emotional affair. It is often clandestine and usually does not have a sexual component, so such a relationship seems benign. Such affairs start off as simple friendships but soon develop into something more, creating discord between the couple.

Although there can be other reasons for the marital discord, having an emotional affair can only escalate it. It is important to be emotionally tuned with your partner for a harmonious relationship. It builds intimacy and keeps the relationship thriving. When these emotions are diverted, it can destroy the relationship as it can turn into infidelity easily.

No one starts off with an intention to cheat on their partner. So, what causes people to have emotional affairs? Find out in the next section.

Why Do People Have Emotional Affairs?

The innocuous nature of emotional relationships and friendships can blur the line and create havoc in relationships. There can be multiple reasons why people seek emotional fulfillment outside of a relationship. Some of the common reasons are:

Wondering how to catch an emotional affair early? Look out for these tell-tale signs.

9 Signs Your Partner Is Having An Emotional Affair With Someone

1. They Are Emotionally Withdrawn

Your partner has stopped discussing their feelings with you and has become emotionally withdrawn. They would rather discuss how they are feeling with their affair partner rather than with you. They believe that their affair partner can understand them better, so they share their problems and frustrations with them. Their affair partner will know more about your partner than you. They will get the news first-hand.

2. Unexplained Absences

Your partner is spending extended periods of time away from home. They do not spend quality time with you anymore. In fact, they plan how to spend alone time with their affair partner instead of you. You have no idea where or with whom they are. Long office hours or overtime are some classic excuses to cover up unexplained absences.

3. They Are Overly Private

Is your partner overprotective about their privacy? They may be acting secretive, hiding their phone from you, or shutting down the computer screen suddenly when you are around. They may be spending more time on social media and yet trying to keep their friendship a secret.

4. They Are Acting Defensive

Your partner may be trying to evade any questions you ask them about showing interest in someone else and avoiding serious conversations about your relationship altogether. They may also get upset or defensive when you ask them where they were. They are probably also not giving you an account of a sudden or excess expenditure. You may even notice that they are taking their “friend” out on extravagant dinners or pampering them with gifts.

5. Sudden Behavior Changes

Your partner has probably picked up a new hobby or is dressing differently. Chances are they are using this time to spend more time with their affair partner. Any confrontation with them results in defensive behavior. They may make you feel guilty for judging them or not trusting them. They will always maintain that they are just friends and accuse you of being jealous.

6. Lack Of Intimacy

You may have noticed a sudden lack of intimacy with your partner. They don’t show affection toward you or say that they love you anymore. They may also seem distracted or preoccupied with some other thoughts. On the flip side, they may try to allay their guilt by overcompensating with token gestures. They may randomly take you out on dates to soothe their guilty conscience. Although they may not have cheated physically, they do realize something is off about the relationship.

7. Changes In Sexual Dynamics

They seem to have lost interest in sex with you and don’t initiate sex anymore. The frequency with which you used to have sex has decreased. Even when you do have sex, you may feel something is amiss – like they are not completely present.

8. They Are Overly Critical

Your partner has probably started getting angry or irritated with you easily or is criticizing you constantly. They may be comparing you to their “friend” or suggesting something that you do not understand them as well as said friend. They idolize their “friend” and pit you against each other.

9. They Constantly Talk About The “Friend”

You will never hear the end of their friendship. Your partner goes on about how special this friend is or how much they admire the friend. They may tell you about how effortless and easy it is to spend time with said friend. This is probably because they are constantly thinking about them.

These are the most common warning signs indicating that your partner may be emotionally cheating on you. The next question is, how do you approach this situation discreetly? Find out below.

How To Put A Stop To An Emotional Affair

  • Be honest with your partner. First and foremost, talk to them and have a discussion about what you feel is happening. Chances are your partner is unaware that they are walking on a thin line. A simple reality check is all that is needed to put most emotional affairs to a stop. Couples realize what is at stake and set their priorities straight once the affair is out in the open.
  • Bring to their attention how much time they are spending with their friend and how it is affecting you and your relationship.
  • Check in with your partner often. Let them know that you care about them and are interested in them. Let them not feel neglected or unappreciated.
  • Try to take into confidence common friends or family members who can help you both communicate properly. Do not instigate or accuse your partner of having an affair, though. Give them a chance to explain themselves and set things right.
  • Try couples therapy. This will help highlight the miscommunication in the relationship and address the underlying issues in a professional manner.
  • Try to bring back the romance. Set up romantic dates and have deep conversations with each other. Try to get connected with each other emotionally and physically.


An emotional affair often starts as a friendship and ends up as a full-fledged affair if left unchecked. The lack of trust and intimacy or feeling neglected can push a partner to seek an emotional connection outside the relationship. Since, in the beginning, there is no physical component, they may feel it is not cheating. However, the consequences of having an emotional affair are just as devastating as infidelity. That is why it is important to identify the signs early on and address them as soon as possible.

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As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.