How you can know:
1. Intimacy avoidance: When developing an emotional affair most will begin to forgo intimacy with their partner. This can include avoidance to conflict and a strong fear of closeness to your partner. This will cause a new desire for connection with another person whether it’s an acquaintance, or an already stable friend.
2. Approval seeking: By avoiding issues in a relationship and settling for a false intimacy causes a need for approval from others. So what happens when you find someone who hangs onto your every word? Who’s put you on a pedestal higher than the clouds? You aren’t sleeping with them, so it’s not a real affair right? By allowing yourself to believe that this new person accepts who you truly are, you might begin to blame your real partner for not providing that same validation.
3. Pimp tenderness: You might be wondering what “pimp tenderness” means; think of it as someone who shows intense emotional affection towards another person. When it comes to an emotional affair, this usually entails an almost “unmatched” concern for their life. You might feel the need to defend them around your partner if they’re brought up negatively; your other friends might see your new friendship as a little too close or even odd. If your real partner does something you find irritating you might compare them with this new friend. Like a pimp, you have raised your affair partner onto a pedestal where they provide you with the emotional intimacy you feel your real relationship lacks. The moment you feel that others are getting in the way of your time with this “friend” you’ll know you’ve official started an emotional affair.
4. Relational lethargy: In every relationship, couples will have their own ups and downs. Some last longer than others, and sometimes it will feel like you’re putting in far more than you’re getting out. Relational lethargy can cause you to justify your actions by believing that your partner doesn’t truly care or doesn’t want to be around you. You’ll tell yourself that it’s “so easy” around your “friend” and how effortlessly it feels to be around them
5. Objectification: During this time you’ll begin to only see the negative aspects of your partner in order to push away the denial and guilt from the affair. When your mate raises concerns about this “friend” you’ll brush it off as them being jealous or petty. You’ll even start to objectify your affair partner in order to sustain the affair. Most of the affair has revolved around you seeing them as almost god-like. They are the most intelligent, talented, or even the most beautiful person in the whole world. They have consumed your own world. And by enhancing their qualities and traits, it will only justify your decision to continue the affair.
6. Minimization: When someone has an affair, whether it’s emotional or physical, you’ll begin to minimize the impact of your overall actions. How can it truly hurt anyone if you’re only spending time together talking? During this time you won’t considerhow it could affect your other friendships, your children, and most of all: your actual relationship with your partner.
7. Self-deception: By convincing yourself that you’re just as wonderful as your affair partner, then you’ll have obtained the maximum benefit from your new found relationship. You’ll ask “why hadn’t I found them earlier”? Or “why couldn’t my real partner see me as they do”? The self-deception will cause you to suspend reality and see yourself on the pedestal from your affair partner’s eyes.
8. Emotional confidant: The whole point of why an emotional affair starts is to find the emotional intimacy lacking in your actual relationship. Many will also try to be the primary source of support for their affair partner aw well. By them looking to you as their main confidant will increase your own importance in their life.
9. Common interests: By finding common interests together such as hiking, painting, or working out, you’ll begin to find new reasons to spend more time together. It can increase feelings of exclusivity and will feed into the denial that you two are only “friends.”
Remember this list isn’t set in stone, but it’s a good indicator to understanding if an emotional affair is developing or is already established. No matter where your relationship currently is, whether you are on the path to fulfillment or on the road to recovery after an affair, it’s a journey that is not designed to be done alone.
Article by: Hasani Pettiford. Infidelity Recovery Specialist. Couples Academy.