YOUR opinion needed. Emotional affairs. Harmless or Harmful?

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. If you are in the States, I hope you are enjoying a nice, long holiday weekend! πŸ™‚

I have a radio show coming up on June 4th on Cougar Chat Radio and we will be discussing emotional affairs.

This is such a controversial topic because so many people think that as long as there is no physical contact that anything is okay. Some people think that emotional affairs are worse than physical ones because they bind people’s hearts together, which can be even stickier than hot nookie.

Usually, I’d have some crazy story for you, full of fun expletives, smarmy commentary and inappropriate jokes. But this time, I don’t want to sway you one way other another. I would love to hear your stories about how emotional affairs have affected you. Whether you were the one in the emotional affair or were on the receiving end of one.

I have 2 polls below, one for guys and one for girls. But I would also really like to hear your stories. I’m going to list several questions and if you want to answer them, that would be great. If you want to leave any other kind of comment, that would be great too.

Thanks ahead of time for sharing with me.

Questions:

  1. Have you ever had an emotional affair?
  2. If you have:
    1. How did you feel about it? Okay? Guilty? Turned on?
    2. Did it affect your life with your significant other? If so, how?
    3. Did you tell your significant other about it? If so, what happened?
    4. Would you do it again?
  3. Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner had an emotional affair?
  4. If so:
    1. How did you find out about it?
    2. How did you react?
    3. How did it affect your relationship and your ability to trust?
  5. Do you think emotional affairs are worse/better than physical affairs? Why? Why not?

PS: I’ve no clue why the boy poll is smaller than the girl poll. There is nothing subliminal going on, I promise. πŸ™‚

Thanks again for sharing with me. Your thoughts and opinions are very valued and appreciated.

Image procured from: http://www.jerkmagazine.net/columns/single/what-is-cheating.html

55 comments on “YOUR opinion needed. Emotional affairs. Harmless or Harmful?

  1. Okay, I’ll bite. Hope you’re having a nice weekend, also.

    To answer your question, It’s easy to get drawn into them, especially in this day and age of instaneous communication. Without going into detail, everyone of these types of affairs I’ve had have been harmful to all parties, mostly because they’re usually one-sided — one person benefits and everyone else involved suffers.

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  2. This is right up there with real affairs. If you have one, don’t tell. It’s your burden to bear, not your partner’s. And sometimes emotional affairs happen because you need a different ear, not because you need a different partner. You have to figure out why you are having an emotional affair…and decide where to go from there.

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    • Hi GotMyReservations. Thank you so very much for your insight. I would LOVE to share my thoughts on your comment, but I’m trying not to let my opinion out of the bag so that no one feels like I’m looking for any particular answer or will worry about feeling judged as they too comment on the post. Again, thank you for your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate them. πŸ™‚

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  3. I am a betrayed spouse. I’ve never cheated on my spouse emotional or physical.

    My spouse had an emotional which turned physical affair.

    All affairs hurt, regardless. But hearing that he told her that he loved her broke me. The loss of trust, the loss of my spouse being my best friend, the loss of me…(self esteem, confidence, sanity, lol). Recovering my marriage after this has been the hardest thing I’ve had to go through. This has been life altering. The aftermath of an affair is the most devastating thing I’ve ever gone through. It’s changed me, him and our marriage forever. I will never trust the same, respect him the same, or open up my vulnerabilities to him like I did before.

    My blog is dedicated to my trying to heal from this emotional serial he pulled me into, so I assume thats why you liked several of my posts so you would get comments on this topic. It’s obviously near to my life. I could talk more, but don’t want to inundated.

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    • Samantha, bless your heart for what you have been through. I am so sorry you’ve had to go through that. While never in marriage (thank God) I’ve been cheated on too and it’s one of the most devastating things that can ever happen in a relationship. Regaining trust, self-esteem and all the other things that go away when something like that happens is so very difficult–sometimes impossible. Please know I’m sending you prayers and good thoughts as you continue to work through this… πŸ™‚

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  4. Great questions, Jodi! I’ve been married almost 45 years…there have been challenges…and ups and downs along the way…but no emotional affairs…or affairs of any other kind. πŸ™‚ I do think that it is easier these days to have physical ones…and perhaps years ago it was easier to have emotional ones…but either are an indication that there are problems in the relationship that need to be addressed.

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    • Congratulations on your 45 year marriage!!! How wonderful and amazing. I hope and pray to be able to say the same thing one day. πŸ™‚ Thanks also for your wonderful feedback. It’s great to know there are couples out there who work through the challenges and pull through. πŸ™‚

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  5. The male/female perspective on this is bound to be so different. Most women I know would rather have their significant others pick someone up for a one night “it was just sex” stand than have their partners confide in and feel really close with another woman. Whereas most men I know would only consider the former act “cheating”. I’ve been the “other” woman in what can probably be defined as an emotional affair, and I would not want someone I am involved with to be that close with another woman without my knowledge. Not to say that men and women can’t be friends, but if you feel like it is a friend you can’t talk about with your significant other, it probably isn’t healthy for your relationship.

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    • Hi cateohara. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I can’t tell you how clarifying it is to hear first-hand experiences like yours. And you are very right that quite often, men and women view these things through very different eyes. I wish I could say more, but I’m trying very hard to not put my own personal opinion out there on this (yet!) until after the radio show. I don’t want to sway anyone’s answers or have them worry that I’ll judge them. But I really appreciate you taking the time to comment here. Thank you so much. πŸ™‚

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  6. * Have you ever had an emotional affair?– it depends on what you call an affair. There are people with whom I have a greater level of communication and share similar likes and dislikes than I do with my husband, it does not effect my relationship with him. He has the equation with others too.
    Of the emotional and physical affairs which is more serious depends on what you value more, here’s sharing two of my old blogs. Pick whatever is useful..

    http://parwati-singari.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/06/love-physicl-attraction-and-such-things.htm
    http://parwati-singari.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/09/the-other-side.htm

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  7. When I was married, something happened to me and I became disabled. My wife at the time turned to someone else and had an emotional affair that turned physical. I did forgive her for that as it was about a year after I had to give up work. Seven years later she had a physical affair that I couldn’t forgive her for so we finished. A couple of years later, I met and moved in (along with my kids who I kept in the divorce) with a woman. About six months in, SHE had an emotional affair (as well being emotionally abusive to myself and my kids) so I finished that one. As a result, there is no way I could ever trust another woman enough to have a relationship.

    So in answer, emotional affairs are most definitely harmful.

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    • Mondrak…I am so very sorry you’ve been through so much. It seems utterly cruel to have hurt you like that, especially in a time when you needed your wife the most. Thank you so much for sharing this story with me. And please know that not all women are disloyal. I’d rather cut off my own head than hurt my husband–there are still some good ones out there, I promise. Take care and thanks again…

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  8. I think it’s cheating, and the comments make the point. My wife and I were just last night talking about our marriage and how we are both so glad, happy and fortunate to have a solid, stable marriage. Happy weekend!

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      • Oh yes indeed! I see what people go through in dating these days, and all of the “things” that go around, and the fights. It’s sad. Four years into our marriage we’ve had maybe three disagreements and zero actual shouting matches. Credit goes to a Christian foundation under the marriage…. πŸ™‚

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      • That is so lovely to hear!!! My hubby and I are very similar. We’ve been together almost 5 years and we rarely have a disagreement–not because we keep it all locked up inside, but because we communicate so well and trust each other implicitly. We don’t run around in a constant state of fear and insecurity, so there’s nothing to fight about. It’s bliss. I too am Christian, but the hubby isn’t. He’s more a combination of Pagan/Buddhist, but his philosophy in life is “Harm none.” Because of that belief, he’s a very kind person. Not that I wouldn’t mind him finding Jesus, that would be wonderful, but he’s at peace in his life and that is quite an achievement as so few people are. I’m so happy you and I have such great marriages–not so easy in this day and age. πŸ™‚

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  9. 1. Have you ever had an emotional affair? Yes
    If you have:
    How did you feel about it? Okay? Guilty? Turned on? At first, I did not feel guilty about it since it was something I needed in my life. But as time went on, I realized how wrong it was and felt guilty for it.
    Did it affect your life with your significant other? If so, how? Yes it did. I told my partner and he was hurt and felt betrayed and we broke up for a while.
    Did you tell your significant other about it? If so, what happened? Yes I told him. We broke up for a while, but in the long run it made our relationship stronger since I told him the reasons for it and we were able to fix the problems in our relationship. And we are still together.
    Would you do it again? Never
    Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner had an emotional affair? Not that I know of.
    If so:
    How did you find out about it?
    How did you react?
    How did it affect your relationship and your ability to trust?
    Do you think emotional affairs are worse/better than physical affairs? Why? Why not? An emotional affair is a lot worse since there are real feelings involved, where a physical affair is just usually based on a spur of the moment need and nothing usually comes of it. There are usually no feelings involved besides sexual satisfaction.

    Great question and great subject. I’ll be interested to see how everyone else feels about this subject.

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    • Hi Dog with Fleas (that name always cracks me up!). Thank you SO much for the honesty!! I sincerely appreciate it! I’m really happy you and your partner worked through it and came out stronger. That is a testament to our ability to forgive. I wish I could say more, but as you’ve probably seen, I don’t want to give my opinion on the subject as I don’t want to sway anyone one way or another. But thank you for your thoughts. πŸ™‚

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  10. Hmm. Does my situation count? Anyways, you have beared witness to the emotional rollercoaster that it had become. As for Kristen, as far as I know, she has no idea and I am working hard to keep it that way.

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    • Hey there, doll. Yeah, emotional roller coaster to say the least!!! I’m still hoping for a magical wand I can wave over your head to make everything better. Dangit! Where’s a fairy godmother when you need one?? πŸ˜‰

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      • Well unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) you’re not old enough to be a fairy godmother. The good news is I haven’t had a “bad encounter” in what feels like months.

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  11. Cheating is cheating. Period. I am a serial anti-cheater – I cheated on a girlfriend in high school and that’s the last “affair” I ever had. As far as I was concerned I was about the most evil bastard on the planet for what I did and I was never going to feel that way again. I don’t even like speaking with other women unless they’re friends of my wife’s. Hell, I even view flirting as cheating. I’m not wasting what little charm I have on someone other than my wife – she needs everything I’ve got.

    Of course, my blog makes this interesting from time to time, so I leave my home page open so my wife can read any comment she wishes while I’m out. Fortunately I’ve never bumped into the slightest problem there.

    Relationships are hard enough without trust issues.

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    • Thank you, bgddyjim!!! I have SO much to say to you, but can’t. Darnit! I’m trying to stay neutral here until I get everyone’s feedback. Let me just say that your attitude is simply wonderful and I’m sure your wife appreciates your loyalty and faithfulness. πŸ™‚ There is nothing better than feeling safe with your man. πŸ™‚

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  12. We live in a culture where the expectation to not have intimacy beyond platonic love with people other than your partner dominates. The fact is that whether we want to admit it or not, we are close with other people, we are attracted to them, and we will have emotional attachments to others. In short, we love more than one person, often with romantic/sexual significance.

    What is truly fascinating to me is that rather than admit this openly and allow ourselves to love all people as we actually love them (and do so openly and transparently), we force ourselves to fit into the shape of monogamy, even to the point where emotional intimacy becomes a problem when shared with others. That is unhealthy for a relationship. That is, we delude ourselves into thinking that shying away from this additional intimacy is the right thing to do, usually out of fear and insecurity.

    Having emotional affairs secretly, without transparency, is a violation of trust. (Just as having sexual contact secretly is usually a violation of trust). The question is whether being open and honest about it would be a healthy step. Of course, the answer to this question depends on context, but in most cases it can be incredibly rewarding and wonderful.

    What can make emotional intimacy rewarding is having an understanding that your partners are not our owners. We don’t “belong” to another person, and so having emotionally intimate relationships with others (whether or not there is a sexual component) can be a wonderful addition to your life. There are always going to be ways that you and your primary partner don’t match up perfectly. Additional relationships thus can be wonderfully complementary to that relationship.

    My motto tends to be love each person as you actually love them. Don’t withhold intimacy from a person and don’t artificially emphasize intimacy where it does not feel natural. Love openly, love transparently, and be compassionate and considerate to those you love. If you end up happy with one person, so be it. If the circumstances of your life end up with loving two, three, or ten, so be it. Don’t allow social expectation to limit how you really feel.

    Emotional affairs are only possible if we expect all our emotional life to exist with one person. That’s simply irrational.

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    • Hi Shaunphilly. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer. You have quite the interesting perspective. πŸ™‚ I wish I could say more, but I’m trying very hard (this is not easy!) to say neutral so that people don’t think I am pushing for one answer over the other. Thanks so much for the response.

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  13. I think it’s cheating most of the time.

    I’ve been party to an emotional connection (not an affair, because I wasn’t attached at the time) when I realized too late that, “Wow, we’ve been crossing some lines.” I believe that can happen to married people too, but what happens next is what makes it Really bad instead of just pretty bad.

    If my husband said, “I realized my relationship with Friend has gone beyond where it should. I won’t be talking to her anymore, I want to show you that I am dedicated to you,” I’d be stung, but wouldn’t consider myself cheated upon because he didn’t indulge in it and gave it up at the first realization that it could be a threat to us.

    If instead, he put that relationship as equal to or more important than our marriage, I would consider it cheating. I’ve been in that situation with a person I dated and they denied having those feelings, but it was evident that our life together was being judged against the life he thought he could have with the other person. In that situation, which seems to be pretty common, then cheating is definitely a fair word to use.

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    • Hi MrsWalker! Thank you for your insight! You seem so self-aware–what a wonderful thing. I’d love to give you my thoughts on your comment, but I am trying to stay neutral until all comments are made. But I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks again! πŸ™‚

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  14. Well, I think it is harmful. At first I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t the one being in a relationship. I never really thought it would be cheating, but I knew it would hurt. This guy I was talking to, we had an internet relationship and he had a girlfriend. I fell for him and he fell for me too. He didn’t brake up with his girlfriend and we had an emotional affair. He eventually did leave his girlfriend for me, but didn’t get over her and dumped me. I admit it, I had it coming. And yes, I regret it. So much. The situation was very confusing. He was terrified of being alone, so he had to jump from a relationship to another. At least that is what I understood.

    I kinda felt that our relationship was okay, even if he was in a relationship with an other girl. His relationship with this girl was unhappy and he didn’t really seem to get anything from it. I supported him and tried to make him happy when he was down. I tried to give him things that he didn’t get from his girlfriend.

    It’s been a week now since he dumped me, but I haven’t felt angry at all, mostly because it was my fault that this went like this and I guess I deserve this, but also because I still care about him. I don’t want to waste time being angry at him, it wouldn’t help me at all. So, I think we all got hurt by this. I think I grew up a little after this and I’m pretty happy. Life goes on! πŸ™‚

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    • Hi Littlesad. I’m so sorry things are rough right now. Few things are as painful as losing your sweetie. I really appreciate you telling me your story. As I’m trying to stay neutral on the subject until I get everyone’s comments, I can’t actually say what I think about your perspective, but please know how much I value your input. Thanks you so much for sharing and I hope you feel better and better (and less sad, every day. πŸ™‚

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  15. Of the two, I would say an emotional affair is worse, but quite often the two are intertwined.

    That said, I actually agree with shaunphilly. I think most of the time we pigeonhole ourselves. In a secure relationship, you don’t need the other person to be your everything and vice versa. You just appreciate the other person for who they are and vice versa. And they may well be attracted to others at times. That’s not to say it’s okay for them to go outside the relationship (to have sex) without asking. Then they’re cheating. However, to assume my husband will never be attracted to anyone but me and never have emotional connections with anyone other than me… It seems a little bit contrived. At what point, are we turning into the thoughts police?

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    • Hi Love & Lunchmeat (btw, LOVE that handle!!) Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Great insights. Thought Police. I like that. I wish I could say more, but I’m reserving my own opinions until everyone has commented. Please know how much I appreciate your thoughts. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for dropping by.

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  16. OK, I’m going to be concise and not write a blog within your blog. It was a tough vote for me because I truly think men and women can be friends and a lot of what is “just friends” gets misinterpreted as emotional cheating. In the end, I voted that it is cheating because you shouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t want your significant other to know about. You also shouldn’t take your relationship outside of the relationship. Women tend to interpret emotional sharing between their man and another woman as out of bounds, so under the scenario I’ve described, it is cheating. As a man, I’m not overly concerned with my woman sharing as that kind of talk will put the other man SQUARELY in the friend zone. Trust me, I’ve done it to myself with women who were available. Ugh. What I don’t like is that a lot (not all) of men are just waiting for their opportunity and that can cross the respect line, making it inappropriate.

    Hmmm…I’m not sure if I made sense or not. I might have to lay out my case in a full on blog post.

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    • You so totally made sense and thank you for your words of wisdom, my friend. As you’ve probably read, I’m reserving my own commentary for later, after I’ve gotten all the comments, but you are such a doll for taking the time to give me the scoop. πŸ™‚ Oh, and heck yeah you made sense!!! If you make a blog out of your thoughts, drop me a line so I go right over and read it. I’m trying to take a tiny break from computer addiction and I don’t want to miss anything you have to say. πŸ™‚ XOXO

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  17. First, well done on the self-flagellation that is blog-restraint!
    Second, we are are combo package. Physical + Spiritual.
    We connect physically through sex.
    We connect spiritually through emotions and understanding.
    The line gets fuzzy in that second one. (And the first one for some presidential types…)

    We seek to know ourselves and to be known. (Blogs would not exist elsewise.)
    This treads closely on the age-old koan: Is there a soul mate for each person?
    One who is the ying to your yang. The Penn to your Teller. The milk to your cookie.
    And therein the language leaves room for only one of these…

    But what if there is another, or two, or three? And what if you are blessed to stumble across them.

    The connection will occur. The desire for more will grow. There is a line.
    The trick to keeping it healthy is….
    Hell I don’t know. If you figure it out send me a text will ya? ~ Working on it, Dan

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    • Holy shit, this made me laugh out loud!! And thank you for understanding this: “First, well done on the self-flagellation that is blog-restraint!” It is SO HARD not throwing out my own two cents!!! You KNOW how mouthy a broad I am!!! πŸ™‚ I guess I have to save it all for the radio show, but it is killing me! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the thoughts too!! I really appreciate it (and the giggles!)

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  18. Emotional affairs are dangerous. For all the reasons listed, but also because if/when they DO become physical… it’s over. The bond will be ridiculous. Save the emotional attachment for your spouse, people!

    “…even stickier than hot nookie.” Gross! Love it.

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  19. What an amazing array of opinions you’ve roused! I look forward to seeing what you do with them, as this is a a tricky subject. The line, as many above have said, is so very fine when dealing with emotions–physical affairs are pretty obvious, but emotions do need to be shared and are different in every relationship. I know some of my friendships with married guys involve them telling me things they don’t necessarily tell their wives, but that’s more of an interest thing–she doesn’t care about X, but I do, so they can talk to me about that. It’s not a hidden thing, but a consideration.
    In that sense, I totally agree with jeffdaleydose and shaunphilly; it’s when it’s a secret that it becomes truly harmful. I still don’t think emotional affairs are something you should get involved in–when you find yourself connecting more to the other person than your significant other, STOP–but the secrecy is where it really breaks things. I have been part of one of these, although I was super naive and didn’t realize it until I was deep in. Although it never escalated into anything physical, I know that it was absolutely wrong to let him lie to his wife about hanging out with me; I was breaking her trust by being that escape for him, and crippling my opportunities for other relationships in the process.
    So yes, they’re cheating, but so very hard to measure–and to catch, in a lot of instances. Does that help?

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    • Hi Christina. Thank you so very much for you wonderful thoughts. I really appreciate it. You sound so wise. πŸ™‚ Now that the radio show has aired I can finally say that I believe that in almost every case emotional affairs are harmful to a relationship and should definitely be avoided. If someone finds themselves sharing things with someone that they can’t share with their spouse, then maybe they need to reevaluate their relationship with their spouse.

      Trust is something that is so hard to earn back–I just can’t imagine risking my husband losing faith in me. He’s the most important thing in my life.

      Thanks again, Christina. I really appreciate you sharing!!! πŸ™‚

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  20. In my opinion, emotional affairs are much more harmful then physcial affairs. John has cheated on me so many times during our 6 year relationship and all of his affairs have been physical. As crazy as this sounds, I would rather him have sex with some random woman then have a long talk, kiss and hold hands. Crazy I know, but I could NEVER get over it if feelings were involved. I could not handle him having long phone conversations and talks with another woman. The physical aspect of the affair is difficult enough to deal with. Just the thought of him having feelings or finding himself emotionally attached to someone else? I just would never be able to get over it.

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    • Oh Ariella…I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through so much. Cheating is, in my opinion, unacceptable in any form. I know your heart must hurt so badly. Emotional affairs really are a nightmare, and on a totally different level, like you said. If the man you love actually LOVES someone else, that would be the ultimate betrayal.

      I really wish you were with someone that cherished you and would never cheat on you. Causing you that kind of hurt is inexcusable. You deserve so much better. Please take care of yourself.

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    • Oh my gosh…I have no clue how to do that. I think that’s something only you can do through your Webpress site. So sorry you are getting email blasted. It’s such an old post though–I can’t imagine too many emails are coming for this one. Or are you getting emails for every comment on every post? That would be a nightmare!!

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