Could you forgive your partner for having an 'emotional affair'?

Could you forgive an ’emotional affair’? [Photo: Getty]
Could you forgive an ’emotional affair’? [Photo: Getty]

A mum has turned to the Internet for advice after discovering that her husband has had an ‘emotional affair’.

Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful, but what if the cheating wasn’t actually physical? Would that make it easier to forgive them, or is emotional infidelity just as hard to get over?

These are some of the issues posed to parenting site Mumsnet by a mum who uncovered that her husband had forged an emotional relationship with another woman.

She begins her post by explaining that her husband had an ’emotional affair’ last year.

“I strongly suspect it went further, but not all the way. He denies anything except lots of talking and a cuddle when she was crying,” she writes.

She goes on to say that the woman was in fact a friend of hers.

“He promised he’d never contact her again. Yet the next week he was snapchatting her. Innocent stuff but just no f***ing need.”

“He did a lot after that to try and make it up to me and we have limped on.

“I don’t feel the same about him anymore. I used to love him so much it hurt.”

The woman’s husband claims he can’t avoid the other woman as they’re in the same industry and occasionally work together.

Awkwardly, the trio all recently attended an event.

“At the dinner she waited till I walked away then went to speak to him. I saw because I’d left my phone on the table so turned back. They said she was just asking him something about work,” she writes.

“Apparently she has asked him how I am and said how gutted she is as she hates to feel like someone hates her ,” she continues.

The original poster later added that though nothing physical had taken place, the pair had been on business trips together with hotel rooms next door to each other, and their messages featured emojis packed with sexual innuendo.

The woman ends her post by explaining how hurt she is by the ‘affair’.

“I just can’t stand it all. He remains very sorry and keen to make things better but….meh. He’s broken us and I hate him for it,” she writes.

“I won’t leave because of the children.

“Is there any way to make this better?”

And Mumsnet users were quick to step in and offer their opinions on the tricky situation.

Many sympathised with what the mum is going through.

“This situation sounds awful for you op,” one woman wrote. “I am
going to give my honest advice – you have 2 choices (from my point of view)
leave (the option I believe I would take) or stay and move on from it.

“I’m not trying to down play the affair but unless you can both move past it you’re just destroying the relationship and creating a toxic environment for the kids. It is his fault, he cheated, but if you both can’t move on then it’s over.”

“He isn’t really respecting you if he chooses not to understand how much this hurts you,” another poster added.

“He is essentially choosing her over you considering you’ve told him time and time again to get rid of her but he won’t. Just because you work with someone doesn’t mean you really need to interact with them, especially at a dinner. It sounds like an excuse for them to spend time together. It sounds to me like he is still in the affair.”

Is an ’emotional affair’ as bad as physical infidelity? [Photo: Getty]
Is an ’emotional affair’ as bad as physical infidelity? [Photo: Getty]

Others shared their own stories of emotional infidelity

“I had an emotional affair years ago text messages etc with a colleague. So from your husbands perspective he can’t just turn those feelings off same as if he’d had an actual affair. I have to admit it hurt when it ended. It takes time and not seeing the other person as there will always be that temptation to text eta,” one poster shared.

“I had an emotional affair a decade ago. They’re all-consuming and so very damaging. The only way to get over one is to sever contact. There are no shortcuts, you can’t “be mates” shortly after an EA. I think it’s possible after a one night stand but not after an EA,” another poster added.

“So…Your husband MUST terminate contact with this woman. He must make good on his promise to “do anything” to win back your trust and respect. If he doesn’t, then it’s clear he wants to have the two of you on the go, in which case you have to divorce him or suck it up.”

“As someone who felt attracted to an emotional affair during a rough patch, but didn’t engage with it, I found that separation from the other party was essential to overcome it, as was serious effort in rekindling my marriage,” one poster offered.

“What he has done is simply not enough and does not show commitment to the value of your marriage or family.”

What is an emotional affair?

According to Relate an emotional affair is that grey area where you know you’re more than just platonic friends with someone outside your relationship. “There’s an emotional connection, an intimacy and often an attraction to each other – even if there’s no physical or sexual interaction between the two of you,” the Relate site reads.

“At Relate, we know that strong healthy relationships are fundamentally based on trust and honesty, so emotional affairs can be hugely damaging.”

In some cases emotional affairs can be symptomatic of something that’s missing or going wrong in the original relationship and Relate counsellor Priscilla Sim believes discovering an emotional affair can be an opportunity to look at this.

“Perhaps you’ve felt unable to talk to your partner for a long time because they’re too busy,” she writes on the Relate website.

“Or maybe they get angry or upset easily if you want to talk about anything difficult. If you’re in a relationship where you feel a lack of connection with your partner it can leave you feeling lonely and isolated – so when someone else comes along and shows an interest, it can feel like what you’ve been longing for.”

If you’re worried about your relationship, Relate suggests finding out about Relationship Counselling or trying a free Live Chat session with a trained Relate Counsellor.

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