Most people would probably agree that cheating in a relationship isn’t generally the best thing to do, even if some of these same people have cheated in the past. But by cheating most are referring to physical infidelity — an intimate touch, a kiss, or more. What is less discussed and less clear to many is emotional cheating — the building of emotional and psychological intimacy with someone other than one’s partner, even while remaining physically faithful. Is emotional cheating actually cheating? Some say no, others say maybe, and I say yes.
Not only is emotional cheating as much of cheating as physical indiscretions are, I suspect that emotional cheating is the much more common form of cheating. This is supported by surveys that show that over half of men and women have formed an emotionally close yet physically platonic relationship with someone other than mate. Emotional affairs seem to be the way out for those who are no longer satisfied with their formal relationship but will not or can not be physically intimate with another. By creating closeness with someone else the cheater renews the spark of romance and feelings they once had, without the disruption of ending their current relationship or worrying about being caught cheating.
It may be much harder to definitively pin down what makes up emotional cheating, but many are aware of its existence. However, as with physical cheating, partners find ways to excuse emotional infidelity. Many turn a blind eye to emotional cheating with the thought that, “Well, s/he’s still going home with me.” Songs have been written describing this situation, the singer unabashedly proclaiming to the other woman or man that their partner will be with them in the end. All is well, as long as their partner remains with them, physically.
But it is my view that emotional cheating is as bad or even worse than physical cheating. Neither are preferable, but emotional cheating violates a relationship at the deepest level. By having an emotional affair, a cheater takes away from the intimacy of their relationship and is less emotionally available, if at all.
What their partner is left with is the shell of a relationship, little of substance remains. One may say the relationship no longer exists once the cheater checks out emotionally. Relationships may be dealt with in the physical realm, but they are created in the emotional realm.
What are your thoughts? Is emotional cheating still cheating and how does it compare to physical cheating?