Is He Really Just A Friend? 5 Signs Of An Emotional Affair


Would your partner really be OK with this?

Successful relationships are built on safety and trust — and a betrayal of that trust can derail a partnership before you know it. Both in the media and in our personal lives, we tend to associate such betrayals with physical affairs; however, an emotional affair, even without sex, can be just as threatening to your relationship.

What is an emotional affair?

Simply put, an emotional affair is an intimate connection with someone other than your partner. More to the point, it's when that person becomes central in your life and, in some important ways, takes on the functions of your partner: you find that you spend a lot of time with them, confide in them and support each other emotionally, whether it's over the phone or in person. The emotional investment draws energy and commitment away from your relationship, resulting in you growing distant from and less interested in your partner. You may even begin to regard the other person more favorably than your partner, so you become increasingly annoyed or frustrated with your partner's perceived "limitations."

Even if the other person is someone you aren't physically attracted to and there's no risk of physical intimacy between you, it's still a threat to your relationship.

How do you know if you're having an emotional affair?

What are the warning signs of an emotional affair? If any of the following things are happening, you may be at risk:

  1. You confide in this person. You tell them intimate things about your life that only your partner knows.
  2. You discuss personal aspects of your relationship with your partner. Perhaps you tell them about the physical and/or emotional problems you're facing.
  3. The thought of introducing your partner to this person makes you uncomfortable. You don't want to spend time with this person while your partner is around — you want to keep this relationship to yourself.
  4. You find yourself not being fully honest with your partner (or others) about how often you see this person or what you share with them.
  5. You think about the other person a lot, and you're excited to see them and talk to them. 

What can you do about it?

A healthy relationship means that your partner is your first priority. All healthy relationships are founded on trust and honesty, and your partner should be your "go-to" person for most things. If this isn't happening, then it's time to make a change and confront the issues directly.

When it comes to recovering from an affair, most couples need the help of a professional couples counselor. While at the moment of discovery it's hard to imagine, many couples not only recover, but actually improve their relationship as a result.

Need help getting over an affair? Contact The Couples Center, with therapists in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto who specialize in helping you navigate these challenges and rebuild your relationship.

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Article contributed by

Gal Szekely

Marriage/Couples Counselor

Gal Szekely, MFT

Gal is an expert couples tharapist and marriage counslelor in San Francisco who has helped hundreds of couples create thriving relationsihps. Gal is also the founder of The Couples Center, a marriage counseling and relatiosnship education in San Francsico Bay Area. He is an experienced speaker and workshop leader. 

The Couples Center


Location: San Fransisco, CA
Credentials: MA, MFT
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