How Do You Know If Your Partner Is Committing Emotional Infidelity? - Exclusive

A survey by the Institute for Family Studies found that 20% of men and 13% of women admitted to having sex with someone other than their spouse while married. It's worth noting that the participants freely admitted their transgression. Another study showed that while 46% of people in total cheated on their partners, 22% of people never, ever admitted it to their partner (via Health Testing Centers).

Infidelity is most often known and accepted as simply cheating on your partner by having sex with someone else, though the exact behaviors and actions that constitute it vary from couple to couple. Marriage and family therapist Dr. Talal Alsaleem, PsyD, explains, "Infidelity in general is a very difficult construct to define because people have different ideas and expectations of what is considered to be appropriate and inappropriate behavior for someone in a committed relationship."  

When an affair becomes physical, knowing that it's wrong is more evident. "Sexual infidelity tends to be easier to define because we can concretely tie it to any behaviors that are aimed to achieve sexual arousal and gratification," says Alsaleem. "Plus, most types of relationships have a clear expected parameter of sexual exclusivity."

However, there are a wide array of behaviors, both sexual and non-sexual in nature, that cross set boundaries and negatively impact relationships. One of the most devastating types of cheating is emotional infidelity.

There is a slippery slope when it comes to emotional infidelity

Dr. Talal Alsaleem agrees that emotional infidelity can be even more difficult to define. "We all have other relationships outside of the relationship we have with our significant other in which we are engaged in emotional needs-fulfillment with each other, such as in the case of friends, colleagues."

Alsaleem, known as the father of modern infidelity counseling, defines emotional infidelity as a partner getting their needs fulfilled by someone other than their partner. He says "you know that your partner is committing emotional infidelity when they are letting someone else fulfill an emotional need that was supposed to be fulfilled by you only." It can also be that your partner is fulfilling a need for a colleague or friend that the person's significant other should be doing instead.

In emotional affairs, there is a lot of secrecy, chemistry, and attraction which can become quite a slippery slope, even if no physical affair has occurred (via Healthline).

Signs your partner may be having an emotional affair

There are some things all men do when they cheat, and signs of an emotional affair are similar to signs of a physical affair (via Verywell Mind). There may be a lack of intimacy yet you may still be having sex as usual. It's also possible that you may be having more frequent sex, too.

Your partner may be pulling away emotionally, not sharing much of their day or checking in with you. You may feel like you are just roommates. They may choose to do more solo activities, in or out of the home, and spend more time on their phone or the computer.

Since the intimacy in emotional affairs tends to be deeper than a brief sexual encounter, some people find emotional affairs even more disturbing (via Woman's Day). Of course, emotional affairs can easily lead to sexual encounters.

If you suspect your partner is having an emotional affair, the first thing to do is talk to them about your concerns. The worst thing you can do is ignore it or justify to yourself that since no physical infidelity happened, it was no big deal. A transgression occurred in the relationship and needs to be addressed.