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Surviving an Emotional Infidelity

This blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s Vanessa Blaxland, MFTi.

Sexual infidelity is clear.  You know that sexual infidelity consists of a partner ignoring the boundaries of an intimate relationship and has some kind of physical sexual contact with another person.  However, emotional infidelity on the other hand is much like Internet infidelity, the boundaries and ideas of emotional infidelity are still gray and blurry.  Researchers Ana Maria Fernandez and colleagues define emotional infidelity as a partner forming a deep emotional attachment with another person.

What is concerning is that emotional infidelity often has the same impact on a relationship as a sexual infidelity.  With emotional cheating, a partner becomes emotionally unavailable and cut off in some aspect of the relationship because they are getting needs met by someone else that is typically met with in their primary relationship.  They basically fall in love or have a crush on someone else and have yet to act physically with that person.  Much like a sexual infidelity, there is lost of trust that is replaced by deep pain, anger and resentment.

So how to you begin to get past an emotional infidelity?

1.  Sit down with your partner and have a serious conversation about the transgression.  Many times the partner who committed the infidelity may not see their actions as cheating and may need to hear their partner’s experience to gain better understanding of the impact their emotional infidelity with another has had their relationship and on their partner.

2.  Get to the bottom of why the infidelity occurred.  Cheating doesn’t just happen accidentally or out of nowhere.  There was a need that one partner was not getting from the other and/or didn’t know how to ask for.

3.  Don’t be afraid to ask to help.   It is normal to be deeply affected by an emotional infidelity just as you might a sexual infidelity.  It can rock your relationship and many times it can seem overwhelming to try to deal of fix it on your own.  Seeking help from a professional can help you and your partner get to the root cause of the infidelity, as well as give you the tools to repair and strengthen your relationship.

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