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Emotional Cheating

by Linda Jenkinson

Photo Credit: Kristina Flour - Unsplash.com

I heard a new term the other day: emotional cheating. I'm not sure what it means. In addition, there seems to be quite a flap over whether an emotional cheater should confess his behavior to his partner. I was surprised to read that several of the sexperts believe that emotional cheaters should lay their souls bare to their partners as if you had a hands-on tryst.

Although I found several articles on how perilous emotional cheating can be to a relationship, I think it's one of those "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" things, except paraphrased to "emotional cheating is in the mind of the cheater."

From what I gleaned, emotional cheating can be anything from a fantasy or an innocent flirtation to sexting, online romances, and phone sex. The last three activities have one foot in the adulterous frying pan and one foot mere inches from the fire. They each magnify cheating by involving a third person, whether wittingly or unwittingly, in an already troubled relationship.

However, when it is only your thoughts that lead you down the garden path, that's just fantasizing. We all have daydreams and fantasies that don't necessarily involve our partners. Why would you confess an innocent, albeit potentially hurtful behavior to your partner?

If you are tempted to add a third person to your fantasies, just don't. Adulterous conduct in any form is a disservice to your playmate as well as your partner. Do you intend to tell your partner that the other person means nothing to you? If so, you are not only disrespecting and objectifying your playmate, you are also insinuating that your partner is a fool. Why would you make any part of your life meaningless? The people we involve in our lives always have some value to us. They are in our lives for a reason.

In any case, emotional cheating is a problem you have created. It’s up to you to solve it. Actions always speak louder than words. Better than seeking forgiveness and dragging your partner into the situation, look for and support the good qualities he/she brings to your relationship. Work at being a better partner yourself.

Seeking forgiveness is selfish and only seeks to mollify a guilty conscience. Selflessness, not selfishness is the true path to happiness. To paraphrase John Kennedy, “Ask not what your partner can do for you. Ask what you can do for your partner.”


  1. Howard, Laken. “People Are Defining Emotional Cheating & There’s Bad News If You Have A Work Husband/Wife.” Bustle, https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-emotional-cheating-12-people-reveal-where-they-draw-the-line-in-their-relationship-2944421. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.
  2. Stritof, Sheri. “The Dangers of Emotional Affairs.” Verywell Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/emotional-affairs-and-infidelity-2303091. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.
  3. Wait, Marianne. “Emotional Affair: Is It Cheating?” WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/emotional-cheating-guilty. Accessed 6 Jan. 2019.

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