How do you survive emotional infidelity?

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Emotional infidelity can be even more hurtful than physical cheating, because it’s more insidious. She’s sharing a deep emotional intimacy with someone other than you, and it’s draining the very life blood from your marriage.

The thing about a physical fling is that you can tell yourself (and maybe your cheating spouse even believes it) that it was just about the sex. Who knows, maybe it was. An emotional affair, though, is something you can’t as easily define (where does friendship slip into emotional cheating?) yet it causes even deeper emotional bonds outside of your marriage.

Now you’re left with the scraps, the lies, the evasions and emotional distance. Worse, she may be turned off from you sexually (or unusually hungry for it, but you can tell you’re not the one on her mind while she’s with you.)

Emotional affairs do tend to happen more easily with women, and the danger is that women are more likely to pursue a new relationship and leave the old one to do it. So, not only are your feelings hurt but your marriage is in very real danger.

How do you survive an emotional affair? Try to look at your relationship objectively and see when things began to become too mundane/stressful/angry or distant. Cordial, cool relationships may be something a guy can endure but a woman needs emotional demonstrativeness to stay happy.

Enlist the help of a qualified counselor, or speak frankly with your Pastor or Rabbi. Discuss the situation calmly with your cheating spouse. Set behavioral guidelines for her (or his) conduct in the future.

You also need to address your own hurt and feelings of rejection, as well as that horrible blow to your self-esteem. Some liken it to a trauma that is experienced both in your heart and your health. Turning to your higher power might give you the healing you need, or perhaps working with a 12-step group focusing on marital infidelity.

It does take both of you to create a happy marriage, and if she felt somehow emotionally insecure, rejected, distant or unsafe with you she would be likely to seek that comfort elsewhere. This isn’t to cast any blame but it might be worth exploring together if you want to get you marriage — and your heart — back on track.