Almost all betrayals begin with emotional infidelity

Emotional infidelity takes many different forms. A lot of people argue about what constitutes an emotional affair. In the Gottman Method, we believe it starts when a person gets too close to someone other than his or her relationship partner. Often these relationships begin innocently enough, but they grow into something very dangerous.

The signs of emotional infidelity are: confiding in; flirting; keeping the relationship secret from the partner; and sharing details about their personal life, especially negative details about the partner and the relationship.

People who get involved in emotional affairs find themselves making negative comparisons between their partner and the “friend.” They see their “friend” as being funnier, more interesting, more attractive, easier to talk to, more interested in them, and more understanding. This begins The Cheater’s Cascade.

Social media can play a big role

Social media can play a big role in the cascade toward emotional infidelity, especially in today’s day and age. Reconnecting with old high school and college friends or sweethearts can begin with a desire to “catch up”. Unfortunately, all too often it moves way beyond that. It can escalate very quickly.

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Emotional affairs almost always involve secret-keeping

When people try to hide the extent and the content of their conversations, they are on a slippery slope toward an emotional affair. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “How would I feel if I heard my partner having this kind of conversation with someone else?” If that would hurt, then a boundary is being crossed.

A devastating offense

Almost all betrayals begin with emotional infidelity. Even if the betrayal never moves beyond the emotional betrayal to a physical relationship, the offense can be just as devastating and recovery can be just as difficult.