Finding out your loved one has strayed is heartbreaking for anyone. But is there really a difference between an emotional affair and a physical one? Both are a betrayal and are damaging in a relationship, so which one is worse?
Why Affairs Happen
Affairs generally happen when there are a communication and connection break down in a relationship. One partner seeks validation from an outside source. They might be feeling isolated, lonely, unloved, or experiencing sexual dissatisfaction and this leads them astray. Typically, an affair doesn’t begin to spite the other or to cause hurt. That’s why so many are kept a secret. But, rather, they are usually born out of a place of discontent.
Relationships are like a savings account, there need to be regular deposits made to make it work and when it’s left empty, no growth can take place. Everyone wants to feel loved and wanted, it’s in our nature. This is in no way an excuse for cheating. There are plenty of ways to repair a broken connection, all of which don’t include the ultimate betrayal. But, it’s important to understand where someone is coming from when they do decide to cheat on their partner.
An emotional affair is when a strong bond is formed, without sexual contact, and with feelings involved. It’s important to note that emotional affairs don’t just happen; they are usually planned. With social media and smartphones at our fingertips, connecting with others has never been easier. I’ve seen a lot of emotional cheating start with a reconnection on Facebook with someone from the past. There is giddiness on the part of the cheater, they know they are playing with fire, but they do it anyways. They become addicted to the high they feel when they are communicating, and can’t stop themselves. Many experts believe that an emotional affair is like a gateway drug to a physical one. And some say it’s only a matter of time before it turns physical.
Is there ever really coming back when your partner physically betrays you? This question I often hear when talking about cheating. We view it as the ultimate betrayal. When a partner actively seeks or just has some random wild night out with another person, it’s significant damage done. Often times the sheer intoxication of the encounters are enough to keep the affair going, and not because they have fallen in love. The hiding out, the secrecy, and physicality, all have an effect the production of dopamine and the result is similar to someone being on cocaine.
Both emotional and physical affairs have damaging consequences, without a doubt. The people who are involved are not thinking about their spouses or significant others when they embark on this. And all affairs, emotional or physical, are coming from a place of need and longing. Many would argue that if their partner is having an emotional affair it would devastate them more than a physical one, or vice versa. But, the truth is you will never know how you will react until it actually happens.