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What is an emotional affair?

Marriages must have a strong foundation of trust and respect. When infidelity arises, these pillars of a healthy relationship are destroyed, which makes it difficult to keep a marriage together. Along with physical infidelity, some spouses stray on an emotional level. This is what's known as an emotional affair, and Very Well Mind explains why they're so damaging and how you can determine if your spouse is engaging in inappropriate behavior. 

Many emotional affairs begin as normal friendships. While it's definitely important for spouses to have their own friends and interests, an emotional affair falls outside of a standard friendship. There may be a component of underlying sexual attraction. Even if this attraction is not acted on, it can still be damaging to a relationship because a spouse's affection and attention will be directed at a person outside of his or her relationship. 

To properly identify an emotional affair, one must know what to look for. Many emotional affairs are conducted online. As a result, spouses will be secretive about computer or mobile device use, and may even password protect devices. A person may also suddenly develop an interest in hobbies or subjects that he or she never expressed interest in before. This usually occurs because the target of their affection also holds that interest.

Finally, your spouse may behave differently around you. He or she might criticize you frequently or just be less interested in intimacy. This includes both physical and emotional intimacy. A spouse might also talk frequently about this new friend, to the point where the person's opinions take precedence over yours. Keep in mind that emotional affairs can greatly damage a relationship and may even lead to divorce in many cases. It's also possible to transform an emotional affair into a physical affair relatively easily.

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