Virtually Cheating An Emotional Affair

03-17-11 18:02

One buzzword in the virtual world and in the ranks of psychologists these days is the term Emotional Affair. What is an Emotional Affair? Why do we have them?
by Louise Edgerton

One buzzword in the virtual world and in the ranks of psychologists these days is the term emotional affair. While many people believe that a physical affair involving having sex and cheating on your partner or spouse is wrong an emotional affair may be seen as innocent or not may not appear so clear. People's definition of a situation of developing an emotional affair with someone else in the virtual world when no sex is involved can be confusing to many individuals. What Is An Emotional Affair? Emotional affairs are emotional outlets. An emotional affair is a strong bond with someone else that isn't your partner. It's sharing intimate emotion and creating a connection that can shake any real-world relationship. An emotional affair places above your current spouse or partner. It's receiving and giving support to someone other than the person you previously committed to. An emotional affair is considered a form of cheating just as devastating as a physical affair by psychologists; an emotional affair can bring a couple's union to its knees. It's an act of infidelity that is very difficult to survive and forgive. Why Do We Have Emotional Affairs? Emotional affairs are easy to have in the online environment of the virtual world. The anonymity and the distance of computer communication make an emotional affair a simple situation to create. In real life and in a committed relationship, flirting is a no-no. In the virtual world, we can flirt – heavily. Emotional affairs can be replacements for physical affairs, though emotional affairs aren't at all about sex. They're about feelings. We can type something intimate to someone else that we might feel we can't share with our partner. A real-life lack of communication and emotional sharing in a relationship is a prime situation for an emotional affair to happen. Keep in mind, though, that a number of factors contribute to an emotional affair and each person's set of factors is different. Emotional affairs are damaging to a relationship because they shake the foundation of trust, the building block of a marriage or commitment to another, and they shake it badly. This form of affair involves a great deal of deception, lies, and betrayal, but even more so, an emotional affair involves a person's heart and feelings. Gender Perceptions of an Emotional Affair Gender may play a role in the differences between an emotional and physical affair. Men tend to disassociate sex from intimacy and love, whereas women equate sex and love. When a man has a physical affair, a woman might have an easier time coping with the betrayal, because she feels that the man's affection and emotion still belong to her despite that he had sex with someone else. Men may accept a woman's sexual contact with another because men already might feel sex and love are not the same thing. When one of the partners has an emotional affair, though, regardless of the gender, the person betrayed can feel that he or she has lost everything. How Does An Emotional Affair Get Started? It's simple. In any form of communication with another person, there are lines, boundaries, and rules about what is acceptable behavior and communication and what is not. In real life, these limits are often very clear to others because they are determined by society. These limits include our body language, our facial expressions, or can be verbally. In the virtual world, there are very few social cues or rules. In short, there are almost no boundaries. Anything goes. Most individuals try to remain true to their beliefs or values and set their own personal boundaries and limits of behavior, while others respond to and maintain a loose set of guidelines for socially acceptable virtual communication. However, because the boundaries of what is appropriate and acceptable and what is not in the virtual world are ambiguous, vague, and open to interpretation, stepping across the line of infidelity is easy. And that's how an emotional affair begin...