Beth thought her girlfriend Sue had been acting differently. Ever since Sue started spending more time with her friend Amanda, Beth had noticed a change in her behavior.
"At first, I was happy for Sue," Beth confessed. "She doesn't have a lot of close friends, and I thought her friendship with Amanda would bring her out of her shell. But then they started calling and texting each other constantly. I had the nagging feeling that Sue was pulling away from me and our relationship. I know nothing physical was happening between the two of them. It just didn't feel right."
What Beth was experiencing in her relationship was something called emotional infidelity (or emotional cheating) and it happens all too often in lesbian relationships. Sue and Amanda had forged a connection to each other that went beyond a close friendship. Amanda started fulfilling emotional needs for Sue that are integral to an intimate relationship; needs that should only be fulfilled by her significant other. Sue may not even have realized that her behavior and connection to Amanda had moved out of the "friend zone" and into emotional cheating.
An intimate lesbian relationship consists of a framework of emotional connections that create a bond between two women. Before Sue's relationship with Amanda escalated into emotional cheating, Sue would connect with Beth both physically (hugging, kissing, sex) and emotionally (sharing stories, offering emotional support, loving words and deeds, and being attentive). A mix of both aspects — physical and emotional — is important to a healthy relationship. Once one piece goes missing, the intimate bond begins to deteriorate.
Unfortunately, emotional cheating is often far more destructive to a lesbian relationship than physical infidelity. It can go much further before it is acknowledged, because the line between "friendship" and "emotionally intimate relationship" is often blurred. There isn't just one act that points to cheating. Physical cheating is easy to define for most people — it's a specific sexual act. But what constitutes emotional cheating? Ask 10 people and you're likely to get 10 different answers. Keep reading...
More emotional infidelity advice from YourTango:
- Infidelity 101: What Is An Emotional Affair?
- What Lies Beneath Emotional Infidelity?
- How to Move On From A Painful Breakup