The signs in this electronic age may be more than you can bear: she gets texts at odd hours or late in the night; she turns off her laptop when you walk into the room. She hangs up the phone or does not take a call when you are nearby. What is she up to? She is still intimate with you. But something has changed. If she is not seeing someone else, she at least may be trying to get someone else to see her.
Wandering thoughts can undermine a relationship as much as wandering eyes. As Your Tango puts it, emotional adultery or infidelity is “when you or your partner become emotionally connected with someone outside of your relationship, either in person or on the internet.”
You two found each other amid Virginia’s millions. You two have a bond that, you hoped, was unique and strong. You want to be her shoulder to cry on, the cause of her greatest joys, and the steady partner at her side. If she is no longer looking to you for that emotional support, to whom is she looking?
The significant other man—or woman—in her life may be someone from work, someone from the gym she suddenly visits more times per week, or from some outside interest, like a church group or book club. She is not physical with the other man. So what is she doing?
Symptoms and Signs of Emotional Infidelity
As Psychology Today (PT) puts it, emotional adultery leads to that terrible feeling that someone else has stepped into your role, has taken over the emotional space reserved for you, and has fulfilled your partner or wife in a way you cannot.
Because of the complex nature of emotional adultery (after all, no physical intimacy has replaced your bedroom adventures), the problem compounds:
- You notice she turns to someone else for long, deep conversations (by text, by email, by face time, or in person)
- You explain how much this hurts you, how you don’t like her using this new guy as the emotional support you intend to be
- She gets angry that you are controlling, petty, or immature
- She turns to her emotional adulterer to recover from this recent “wound,” and the cycle worsens
If you worry that she is turning to someone else (guy or gal) for the emotional support you want to give her, look for some distinct signs:
- Can you predict times when she will be too busily engaged with this outside person to have time for you?
- Do you feel especially sensitive to any time away from you taken by this other person?
- Does she become unusually upset at your concerns, ignoring your feelings in defense of the relationship?
- Does she refuse to talk about the emotional support this other person provides, that she does not seem to get from you?
Reclaim the Territory
As Psychology Today puts it, “feeling understood on the level of the soul is far more sexy than sex itself.” Your partner or wife has moved beyond you to fill a void. She gives you her body, yes, but where is her heart and mind?
You can try to reclaim the territory, but expect her to be jealous of the relationship she has invested in with this other person. It does not matter that he or she is on the other side of the continent — that emotional adulterer is seizing opportunities you may have given away.
That may sound harsh, but perhaps your work, finances, or the children have made you blind to the lack of emotional support you should have been giving your partner or wife.
She longs for you to understand her, or at least make valiant attempts to understand her. Building back that emotional bond takes time, but if you value your relationship, it is time you must carve out of work, sports, money and the kids.
Most men want to solve problems. It is nearly an instinct: Widget A won’t fit in Slot B, so use Tool C to get it to work. But that is exactly what most women do not want. When she opens up to you about something, stop what you are doing and just listen. Echo her issue, but do not attempt to solve it. That neutral stance may drive you batty, but it tells her all this:
- You care
- You listen
- You support her independence
- You know her
- You want to know more about her
You need not reinvent yourself. In fact, that would probably turn her off completely. What if she sought out someone else because you changed from who she trusted to someone unpredictable? That’s another personality change that would be wrenching. Avoid talking a talk you are not willing to walk. Show her, by doing, that you want to emotionally support her. Restate what she says to you, to show you are listening. Ask her how you can help. Let her know she is your center, your world, your focus.
Considering the possible alternative, a contested divorce, any amount of solicitude may be preferable.
Is Your Marriage in Too Much Trouble?
Few cases of emotional adultery are, by themselves, cause for divorce. Couples Therapy, Inc. points out that some 45 percent of men and 35 percent of women have been drawn into at least temporary emotional affairs at work, but that does not translate into 45 percent of Virginia’s married men ending their marriages.
Emotional adultery can be a warning sign, though, of a fragile relationship. If it is just one indicator that your marriage is in trouble, you may want to brace yourself for the unpleasant reality of divorce. Other warning signs will begin piling up quickly:
- Loss of sexual passion
- Indifference to your daily activities
- Uninterested in spending time with your friends
- Withholding computer, phone and tablet communications
- Unable to alter plans to accommodate your plans or scheduled time together
- Suddenly forgetting or neglecting family commitments
Call The Only Family Law Firm in Virginia Protecting You Exclusively
Your first step is to secure a good family law attorney to protect yourself against a future too painful to contemplate alone. While emotional adultery by itself is not a violation of any Virginia law, other overt and harmful acts are. Let an experienced Virginia family law attorney hear your concerns and help you decide how to handle the changing patterns in your partner or wife.
If you fear your relationship is marred by emotional adultery, a call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or a contact online, can help you resolve some of your questions. What are your options? How will you deal with a spouse or partner who may not have broken the law, but has broken promises? Broken your heart? At The Firm For Men we deal exclusively with Virginia’s men, safeguarding their rights, defending their property, and securing their future.