MEveryone thinks that one of the hallmarks of a healthy and committed romantic partnership is being with someone who understands what makes you click, in particular, and also does what they can to accommodate your needs. In reality, however, people need emotionally intimate relationships with people. other than their romantic partner in order to have an emotionally fulfilled life. But what are the signs of emotional infidelity that may indicate that platonic intimacy isn’t what’s really going on?
According to relationship experts, the best advice here is to understand the differences between deep, intimate friendships (or platonic intimacy) and deep, intimate situations (or unlabeled relationships that are more intense than a platonic friendship).
In its most distilled form, platonic intimacy is the emotional intimacy that exists between good friends. “The people we have emotionally close friendships with are the ones who see us exactly as we are,” says Zoe Korsintimacy expert and resident sex and intimacy coach with coral, a sexual wellness app. “These are the people you could use as a sounding board,” she says.
Usually, you care about their point of view, express yourself with them and process your feelings with their help, and vice versa. But (and this is important!), while you might call these people your best friend, platonic soulmate, or PIC, they are nonetheless. just friends, and you have no intention of taking the relationship to another emotional or sexual level.
“Someone who is not honest and transparent with their partner about the things they discuss or reveal to their friend is one of the main symptoms of emotional infidelity.” —Zoe Kors, Intimacy Expert
So when does platonic intimacy turn into emotional cheating? According Jor-El Caraballo, LMHCrelationship expert and licensed therapist, cheating is a violation of your relationship boundaries, and emotional cheating involves developing a deeper emotional connection with someone your partner(s) would not be comfortable with.
It also usually involves some degree of secrecy. “Someone who isn’t honest and transparent with their partner about things they discuss or reveal to their friend is one of the main symptoms of emotional infidelity,” Kors adds.
Key Differences Between Platonic Intimacy and Emotional Cheating
First, let’s name similarity: emotional cheating and platonic intimacy involve emotional intimacy. And to be clear, “emotional intimacy is a normal, healthy part of all kinds of relationships,” says Kors. Caraballo agrees, adding that “it’s an important ingredient for people to feel like they have a community and a support system.”
So the main differences between platonic intimacy and emotional cheating are the relevance and sometimes the depth of the emotional intimacy therein, says Kors. “The difference depends on whether or not you engage with someone in a way that threatens the stability of your primary relationship,” she says. This threat can take many forms, but Kors points out that breaching a partner’s trust or allowing romantic or sexual undercurrents to develop are the main points of contention.
3 signs of emotional infidelity
1. You’re hiding secrets from your partner.
“Healthy relationships are built on trust and transparency, and secrets betray that trust,” says Kors. As such, “keeping secrets is the very definition of cheating,” she says. This makes not means you have to share everything with your partner. “But it’s a big red flag when you have a type of relationship that needs to be hidden from your partner,” she says.
If you find yourself glossing over the depth of your dynamic with someone, deleting text conversations with them, or sneaking in to contact them, you might just be cheating.
2. You spend more time with this person than with your partner.
There will be times in life when you spend more time with someone other than your partner. For example, maybe you and your partner are in a long distance relationship and you have a roommate. Or maybe you have a co-worker you sit with five days a week and you don’t live with your partner. In general, though, Kors says to consider how much time you spend with someone else versus your partner as a litmus test.
Ask yourself: Has the quality time I spend with my partner decreased since I got closer to this person? Am I spending more time with this person than with my partner (and enjoying it)? Do I prefer to spend time with this person than with my partner?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are in troubled territory. “If dealing with your friendship distracts you from your partner and drains the time and energy you would otherwise devote to your partner, something is wrong,” says Kors.
3. Your gut (or groin) is telling you you’re in cheating territory
Emotional cheating can be an affair of the heart, but it’s usually the other parts of your body that register the cheating first. “Typically, emotional cheating is associated with active cheating, which can create feelings of guilt and shame,” says Caraballo. If you have an anxious stomach when you think about the nature of your relationship with your non-partner, your body is telling you something.
Kors also recommends paying attention to the type of sexual responses you have when you’re around this person. Do you have a tingle? Is the blood rushing to your cheeks (or elsewhere)? “Developing sexual desire for your friend threatens the stability of your relationship,” says Kors, especially if you find yourself looking for the rush.
How to Stop Your Close Friendships From Turning Into Emotional Cheating
If you’re getting closer to a friend and want to make sure you’re on the same page, invite them over for a chat about the nature of your friendship. “Start by expressing what you appreciate about them as a friend,” Kors says. “Describe what they bring to your life, what you gain from your relationship, and what it means to you to have a clearly defined friendship that does not threaten your romantic partnership.
Texting or articulating those feelings gives them space to share the same, she says, which in the long run can help you create a bond that nurtures each other but still works within the confines of your romantic relationship. .
What to do if you think your partner is emotionally cheating on you
There’s nothing more painful than thinking that your partner has allowed another person to become the co-leader of their life. But rather than sitting around anxiously about the unknown or checking your partner’s phone or email for evidence of infidelity, talk to them.
Avoid the blame game, Kors suggests, and “try to have a larger conversation about what it means to be intimate, about the nature of friendship, and what they need to feel safe in the relationship and about which inspires confidence”. a larger context creates a container in which to work on any of your current (or future) jealousies with care and respect.
Just as important as initiating these discussions is listening to what your partner is saying during them… Really listen. After all, it’s possible that your partner is really just friends with this person and revels in having someone to share their love of fishing with, for example.
Ultimately, “these types of conversations can be tough, but they’re so much easier when you approach them with patience, openness, and sincerity,” says Caraballo. And if you can’t bring those things to that conversation, it may be a symptom that the person in question isn’t the right mate for you anyway.