An emotional affair is an "affair of the heart" and is predicated upon the attachment two individuals create outside their marriage or relationship. A deep attachment develops by sharing intimate thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities and by relying on one another for emotional support and companionship. Many people convince themselves that because sex is not involved, they are not having an affair. But they are. Affairs, whether emotional or sexual, involve secrecy, deception and betrayal. The more emotional energy put into the other person the less there is for your partner and your relationship. Often the most devastating aspect of an emotional affair is the deep attachment that develops with this other person. This attachment is tough competition for your marriage or relationship.
Emotional affairs generally happen when something is lacking in our relationship or within ourselves. In regards to relationships, not feeling important, desired or understood is often a trigger. Being able to connect with another person who seem to fill these voids feels good, and it's these good feelings that keep the emotional affair going. On an individual level, the emotional affair may be warding off feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy. It's important to note that most affairs, sexual or emotional, do not end well. And when given the chance to be legitimate, often do not survive.
Below are 4 tips for healing from an emotional affair
1. Take responsibility for the emotional affair by being honest with yourself and your partner. We all make mistakes and do things we may regret. Once we no longer deny we are engaging in behaviors that are hurtful and damaging to us, genuine change, healing and understanding can take place.
2. Terminate the relationship. This will be difficult because an attachment has been made. Emotions and thoughts associated with mourning and loss should be expected. And as with any significant loss, will take time to heal from.
3. Be open to marital therapy. Marital therapy can help identify what is missing in your present relationship and the steps you can take as a couple to make your relationship better. Marital therapy can also help with exploring whether to continue or terminate your relationship.
4. Consider individual therapy. Underlying and unresolved issues surrounding intimacy can contribute to one's vulnerability to becoming involved in an emotional affair. Whether repairing your present relationship or considering a new relationship; exploring and understanding the underlying factors associated with the emotional affair will help with achieving genuinely satisfying and fulfilling future relationships and maybe even affair proof ones too.