Emotional affairs have a different meaning for different people. Often they are much less of a problem to the person having the affair and far more hurtful to their spouse. Either way, emotional affairs are indicative of problems within the marriage and a mistake or inability in working through them.
The first thing that will make your partner consider an emotional affair is a problem in your marriage or relationship. As it is left unresolved or recurring your partner might find it much easier to confide in someone else about their frustrations, rather than talking to you. At first this is completely innocent, to them they are simply sharing feelings with a friend, but it can soon escalate.
If you find your marital problems growing gradually and your partner finds it all too easy to ‘forget’ about the problem by going to work, then they could be having an emotional affair. They expel their anger and upset when they meet their friend so it can soon be forgotten about, ready for them to go and enjoy each other’s company over a meal, drink or work project. In their eyes it’s innocent, they probably haven’t even considered that it could upset you, but this doesn’t make it right. You might also find signs of them keeping secrets, such as lunch receipts for two when they told you they dined alone. This indicates they realize you would be upset if you found out and this is where an emotional affair is proven. You will most likely want to confront them about this and you have every right to. Try not to fly off the handle though, they may be very willing to apologize, drop the affair and reconcile with you, but just weren’t sure how to initiate that before.
Otherwise, identifying that your husband or wife is having an emotional affair is tricky. We automatically want to ask them outright because they are the person we go to first when we are upset or worried. However, the spouse has started to go to someone else to relay their feelings first and there’s every chance they’ll deny an emotional affair and then confide in the person that they’re having the affair with that they’ve been rumbled. At the same time you should never go behind your spouse’s back to find out what’s going on. This simply reinforces in both your mind and theirs if they find out, that there is little or no trust in your marriage. Instead, sit down with your spouse and ask them to tell you truthfully if they thing there are any problems between you. Tell them you’re concerned that they’re becoming distant and ask what they think you should do to work it out.
Finding out that your partner is having an emotional affair hurts, sometimes more than finding out about a physical affair, but remember that chances are it started off very innocent with the venting of a minor frustration. Just as you would like to confide in someone else about your marital problems, your partner did but simply chose the wrong person to do it with.