How Affairs Start – The Emotional Affair – Part 2 of 4 of our Affair Series
This is the second of our four post series about marriage affairs. Maybe you missed our first post about the psychological reasons behind why people have an affair. This post will cover how affairs usually start, and more specifically, emotional affairs.
Here is the full schedule for our Affairs series:
- The reasons for having an affair
- How affairs usually start – the emotional affair (that’s this post!)
- What happens during an affair
- How affairs usually end.
Comment if you agree or disagree with our viewpoints, we read and respond to every comment.
How Affairs Start
In almost every single case, physical infidelity happens because of prior emotional and mental infidelity. This emotional infidelity is referred to as an emotional affair.
The Psychology Behind the Emotional Affair
As mentioned in the previous post, discord within a marriage opens up the opportunity for something like an emotional affair to occur. Once someone feels neglected or under-appreciated in a relationship, it will start to amplify all of the negative feelings they have about their partner.
Psychologically, anyone that displays the opposite attributes of their current partner will become very attractive. Usually, one of the negative feelings that someone has is
- “my spouse doesn’t listen to me”
- “my spouse doesn’t appreciate me”
- “my spouse doesn’t take the time to really get to understand what I’m going through”, or
- “all we ever talk about is the kids”.
When someone then displays the opposite traits, say, a co-worker who listens and appreciates what the person does, a strong emotional bond occurs. And as that bond increases in strength, it will continue to reinforce the crappy current relationship the person is in.
When someone is in an emotional affair, they are less responsive, less kind, less involved with their current spouse. These actions lead to a vicious cycle that feed off of each other.
The Modern Day Emotional Affair – How Technology Has Opened The Door For Emotional Infidelity
The ability for a married person to connect on a deep level with someone else has exploded in the last decade because of technology. There are two reasons why
1. The shear number of people that someone can connect with has been multiplied by thousands.
Because physical proximity isn’t necessary for an emotional affair, someone on the east coast could have an affair with someone in San Diego, or someone in St. Louis could connect with someone in Germany.
Even the ability to talk to old high school crushes or college hookups has become as easy as a click of a button.
2. Keeping an emotional affair secret is much easier.
As new private communication channels have increased like texting, emails, PMs, video chatting, dating sites, and even sites set up specifically for cheating like Ashley Madison, the ability to hide what what is happening from a spouse has become much easier.
People have multiple accounts on multiple sites, several phone numbers, and even several different internet devices. If someone needs to hide something, they can.
Why Emotional Affairs Almost Always Precede Physical Affairs.
There is one main reason why an emotional affair is the first step to nearly every physical affair.
Most people will not take bold, decisive action, good or bad. Most people like to slowly ease into their decisions.
Connecting or chatting with someone on Facebook is a “foot in the door“. It seems fairly harmless, and usually never has anything explicit in the conversation.
As the conversations continue, it is easier and easier to rationalize behavior. To go from “upset with my marriage” to “sleep with someone else” is a big step. But if smaller steps like “reconnect with someone on Facebook”, “ask about how their life is going”, “send a ‘smiley face’ message” are in the middle, you can see how much easier it is to slide into the behavior.
It is actually for this reason that inappropriate emotional connection can spiral out of control so much faster than anything physical, because it is so easy to justify the behavior.
Conclusion of Part 2
Emotional affairs are like any other affair, there must be escalation or the affair will fizzle out. Because of this, most emotional affairs lead to physical affairs, without the person ever realizing how deeply connected they’ve become with someone who isn’t their spouse.