Emotional Infidelity is Still Infidelity

The Surprising Benefit of Helping Others Get a Divorce Online

I didn’t launch OurDivorce.com out of spite or to get revenge on anyone. And I certainly didn’t expect to hear stories so much worse than my own. But since launching OurDivorce.com, I’ve learned that living in a somewhat sexless marriage with a spouse who’s had only two affairs is like a walk in the park.

Thanks For Only Cheating Twice

I NEVER thought I’d be grateful that my ex wife only had two affairs – one sexual and one emotional – but here I am.

One of my customers told me she lost count of her husband’s affairs after the first dozen. It took decades for her to get up the courage to leave. Another customer told me he hasn’t had sex with his wife in years since she gave him an STD she contracted from one of her many sexual dalliances. But he stayed with her for the children.


I NEVER thought I’d be grateful that my ex wife only had two affairs – one sexual and one emotional – but here I am.

Recently, after sharing my story, I was asked to describe the differences between a friendship and an emotional affair. I was also challenged to define “what counts” as an emotional affair vs a close bond.

As a victim of both types of affairs, I’m in a unique position to know the signs for each and the differences between a friendship and an emotional affair.

What Counts as Emotional Cheating?

As a general rule, an emotional affair is ANY outside relationship that interrupts your ability, your desire, OR even your willingness to invest in your partner or the relationship you have with your partner.

Here are a few signs that you (or your partner) are having an emotional affair:

  • You spend more time thinking about the other person than your partner
  • You avoid mentioning your “friend” to your partner
  • If you do end up talking about your “friend”, you’re quick to refer to them as nothing more than a co-worker, Facebook friend, or some other harmless relation
  • And…since deep down, you know you’re cheating, you have a rehearsed explanation to describe your relationship. Something like, “we spend a lot of time talking about [work stuff, art, TikTok, etc.] but there’s no attraction there.”
  • You become less attracted to your partner – physically and emotionally
  • You tell your “friend” all the things your partner does that bother you
  • You tell your “friend” that you wish your partner could be more like them

Unlike a sexual affair, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when a friendship crosses over the line to an emotional affair. So it’s best to just avoid the line.

My Real Life Example

My ex’s friendship with “Steve” started in the summer of 2019. By September, it had blossomed into a full blown emotional affair that checked every item on the list above.

Since “Steve” was a friend of mine, we actually had several conversations about their relationship along the way. As a “friend”, he told me repeatedly that he was “rooting for us” and that he was doing everything he could “to help save our marriage.”

At that point, I didn’t understand the concept of an emotional affair and took him at his word.

I was a fool!

By October, I was living in a hotel, separated from my wife in a vain attempt to save my marriage, and had FINALLY recognized their affair for what it was. 

“Steve” and I continued to have conversations in which he claimed their relationship was pure and innocent and that he was “on my side”. The last conversation took place on November 2, 2019.

Here’s about 10 minutes of that conversation. If you choose to listen, pay attention to the checklist above to see how formulaic their affair actually was. And keep in mind that despite “Steve” claiming it was all in the past, that just 17 days after this conversation, my wife informed me that she was leaving me for “Steve”.

Lessons Learned

I hope, by this point in the post, we can all agree that emotional affairs are NOT just a close bond.

I can attest that men and women CAN be very close friends without the friendship turning into an affair. My business partner, Jill Blankenship, is also my best friend. She’s always there for me. But there has never been a time where we’ve even approached anything but a friendship. And I will always love her – as my friend.

But since I can also testify to the devastation caused by emotional affairs, I will always be watchful for the signs so I don’t end up in an emotional affair and so I’m never again the victim of one.