Emotional Cheating Vs. Physical Cheating. The Debate.

October 2nd, 2009

I will never betray this woman’s trust or confidence, but a girlfriend of mine a few weeks ago told me she has been “sexting” and having an emotional affair with a man for two years. Her husband and children have no clue. She says it isn’t cheating.

Let’s look at this together. I’m interested in topic.

Firstly, let’s review a few studies together and see how women and men view affairs and cheating.

Men say: Physical cheating is way more painful than emotional cheating, as men relate to everything in a physical way first. Men are inherently cavemen, and are protective by nature of their possessions. I quote one study where a man says, “The reality is that while we don’t care with whom you shop, talk, eat, or text, we do care deeply about who looks at you, smells your hair, holds your hand, and takes you to bed.”

Women say: Emotional cheating is far worse than a sexual affair. Women are far more inclined to forgive a one-night affair than an ongoing emotional connection. The thought of a husband’s connection with another woman, telling her his intimate secrets, without even physically touching her is way worse than a one night “f&ck.”

You may have your own opinion, but I’m just telling you the research.

And so just what is an emotional affair anyhow?

Emotional infidelity ranges, for example,  from “innocent” daily coffee breaks to the office cafeteria together, to online chatting or talking on the phone until 3 am. Emotional cheating is about sharing your deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings with someone other than your partner. In fact, you can be in the same room as your mate and be having an emotional affair with someone else!

Whatever your thoughts may be, cheating is no doubt both hurtful and harmful to a relationship. It’s truly devastating. Emotional cheating is a new term, and not as black and white as a physical affair. With chat rooms and the explosion of the internet, the temptation is everywhere. If you’re unhappy in your relationship or marriage, you can escape to an online paradise island with the man of your dreams without even leaving the comforts of your own home. This is dangerous. This is scary. This is tempting if you’re not happy.

So I ask you, if you knew your partner was “connecting” with another woman in an emotional way, and not a physical one, how would you react?

And just when does flirting become emotional cheating? A glance, a stare, a wink, a gentle touch, they can all be signs of innocent flirting. But how far do things have to go before they aren’t so innocent anymore? A married woman I know once said, ”It gives me a little rush when someone flirts with me when I’m out for dinner with my girlfriends. I feel like, yeah, I still go it!” For me, this girl is heading down a slippery slope. Now I’m not prude or anything, I just know how fast things can escalate. I’ve heard first hand how it starts out innocent, and before you know it, you’re in a full blown lying and cheating affair.

So, ladies, what can you do if you feel yourself or your spouse getting too close to another person even if you nor they are actually having sex with this person. STOP BEFORE IT ESCALATES. Just think, if my spouse knew what was going on, would they approve? If the answer is no, then put the brakes on. Having an affair is wrong. And in my opinion, if you are so unhappy in your marriage that you are constantly seeking adulation elsewhere, then seek counseling to work on yourself, or leave your marriage. But don’t cheat. Cheaters suck.

Which leads me to another day and other related topics…  Are women worse than men when it comes to this topic? Are we monogomists by nature? And another one to come that many of you have emailed about; do you stick around because of the kids? All “fence” issues…

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Thank you for all your visits and comments. I love reading them.


And tell us, what’s worse for you; the physical or the emotional cheat? Would you leave your relationship if your partner emotionally strayed but never had the physical affair? We want to hear!

P.S. New website coming soon! When it’s up, I need your feedback!

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48 Responses to “Emotional Cheating Vs. Physical Cheating. The Debate.”

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  7. KNo Gravatar says:

    I need advice on weather I was in the wrong because I feel like I was but then again I don’t know.

    I started dating my boyfriend 3 years ago and everything was going great, we dated a year and a half until he started realizing that he had his whole life ahead of him (starting college at this time) and didnt want to “settle” yet, many guys around here seem to think that being in a serious relationship means settling or being restrained, This can be very annoying because male friends always have negative opinons and try to temp their friends who are in relationships with “what they can get”, Needless to say, at some point my boyfriend decided that he wanted to break up and i was devastated, I’ve been in relationships before but I was never in love and thought I was with the one before him, We ended up breaking up but still texting/calling/sleeping together, it was like we never broke up which is where I went wrong because I allowed him to have me fully without giving me committment, I thought he would wanna get back together but he never did, Then out at school he began seeing someone else while he was still stringing me along telling me he loved me and even saying he wanted to be with me and would act that way, But we were not together so I could not say “you’re cheating on me” because he honestly told me he couldnt be faithful at school but I still fought with him rather than moving on like I should have at the time, Eventually i couldnt take anymore and decided to call it off because i did not want to be with him if he was messing with another girl in a EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL way, like he was with me, At first i thought it was bareable because it was only physical but i came to find it was emotional when she saw me at his school with him getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner, I knew she must have texted him because he posted a tweet about me staying the night, which was out of his character at the time, This is when i decided “fuck you” for lieing to me and sayng it was a one night stand type thing and i stopped talking to him which was hard because i never did that before,

    This is where i did something that i feel was wrong because i’ve never told a soul, I met a guy a month prior on Facebook, i knew who he was because he graduated 3 years before me but we never talked until he approached me online and said how pretty i was, I was vulnerable with my “Ex” playing games and hurting me, so i had an emotional affair with this guy, He begged me to come over all the time and after i stopped talking to my EX, I gave in, I went over and he didn’t rape me but he got to the point of why he wanted to hangout and It just didnt feel right, I was ashamed and felt terrible so i stopped talking to him completely,

    The next week my EX told me he truly cut off all communication with this girl because he loved me and wanted to be with me, So we started to work on things and continued to do so without the title that i wanted, for another year or so, Then the other guy approached me again when everything was going well for me, and wanted to be friends and even helped me get a better job in his office, We chit chatted and became good friends, until he wanted more, He would always try to kiss me and hug on me in the cafeteria and I would tell him to stop because I didnt want that, He kept pursueing me every single day until finally I kissed him back one time, but did not let it go any further, He got very mad at me that i wouldnt give it up to him but I didnt want to do anything with anyone except my EX, who was like my boyfriend without the title, So i stood my ground and told the other guy that we could be cool but I wanted him to stop flirting with me, texting me, hitting on me, trying to physical get close to me,

    Eventually i got him to stop and 2 months later, my ex wanted the title back between us, we have been dating ever since yet i still feel guilty because i never mentioned the guy i had 2 brief encounters with, Part of me feels like i had the right because of what was being done to me at the time but the other part knows right from wrong and thinks i should say something, However, im positive there are things that my boyfriend never told me about which is probably for the best because we both matured alot since we got back together and its almost like we “got if out of our systems”, it’s strange and i know some people can’t relate but I feel like maybe because we’re still young, we needed to go through these things in order to grow and get back together,

    I don’t know if what I did was wrong, but i’ve kept it to myself for fear of my boyfriend hating me or maybe just fear or him beating the other guy up,

    Either way, Emotional and Physical relationships – wether it’s with a new person or your EX, it’s not a good thing, I am a rare case in which things worked out for us, That does not always happen and one thing i regret most is allowing myself to be stupid back then and let my boyfriend have me after we broke up, The best thing to do is just say okay and as much as it hurts, do you! If he is worth it, he will come back and change over time, if not then he’s not the one, Too many girls around here at like me and stay through so much and never get the outcome they want, they just keep getting hurt and I hope they can read between the lines of my story and see where they should cut if off before it gets to be too much, I wish the best to you,

    (Sorry for the commas, my period button is sticking)

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  10. [...] also the way we cheat. It has introduced a whole new form of infidelity: cyber-cheating or “sexting.” This type of betrayal may never end up between the literal sheets, but it rolls around in the [...]

  11. San antoneNo Gravatar says:

    So…when does it go from being a close friendship with the opposite sex to being considered an “emotional” affair?

  12. [...] wasn’t just “fantasizing.” A little digging around in his computer revealed that he had long been cheating on me with strange men he found on [...]

  13. LJ says:

    after twenty five years we are going thru a divorce because my husband has had an emotional affair on/off for the last three years….

    i no longer can deal with it….should’ve left long ago, but kept giving him another chance….

    the last three years have been a nightmare….every time he tried to break it off with her she would try to kill herself and he would cry over her and yet i have never seen him cry over me like that knowing our marriage is over….he must’ve promised me over a 100 times that it was over with and then the next week he was back to talking to her on the phone for hours at a time, 1,000′s of emails and he changed his phone number at least 5 times in the last three year

    i still have no idea if it’s truly over, because he promised me that once it was i could see the phone records and check his email account….did that ever happen? no

    he has promised me this, and then promise me that and not once in the last three years has he made good on any of them….so i’m finally calling it quits, and now he is dragging/procrastinating with the divorce and dividing stuff up….not sure why he’s stalling, i’m sure he can go back to his “true love” like he once told me it was….he kept saying “she’s my best friend” and i don’t see why i can’t keep talking to her as a friend if we stay married….

    well, i lost my best friend three years ago when this other woman came into his life and i’m hoping that in the next few years i can get thru the pain of a broken heart….i do not believe in divorce, but no longer can i keep living like this….

    the more i tried, it seemed he kept just pitting one against the other to see who would give him everything he wanted….as he would say things like “she’ll give me a back rub for an hour if you don’t,” i feel totally abused mentally and i have no strength to make our marriage work any longer…

    the sad thing for me, i really don’t think he is sorry that it ever happened….from the day i found out he has always blamed me for it happening….

    he definitely is the not the same man i married, nor the one i knew three years ago….it’s like he died and i no longer recognize him or his way of thinking….

    either way, physical or emotional cheating, they are both wrong and both can be just as damaging

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  19. MontrealNo Gravatar says:

    interesting artical – a friend of mine was telling me that he is emotionally invested in his co worker they are both married – she is happily he says – he wants her to leave her husband – they don’t define the relationship as dating and its nonsexual…
    i would have to say on my radar emotional – physical – financial – psychological whatever however u reached out to another person and didn’t bring it 2 my attention and felt the need to keep it a secret.. thats cheating… we have 2 options and neither are reconciliation, my trust has been broken, i will never respect u, and never look at u the same so u gotta go pick ur destination…

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  21. Dealing With It NowNo Gravatar says:

    2 1/2 months ago, though it had been suspected for sometime, I discovered my husband was having a long term affair, and within a couple weeks of that, I found out he had been on dating and looking for sexual encounters sites for months, and even met/dated a couple of women he met on the sites, during the same timeframe he was having the long term affair! I was totally blown away not to mention extremely hurt! His long-term affair started on Facebook. Even though he has ended the affair and says he’s no longer on the dating sites, I still think he’s having an emotional affair(s) on-line (Facebook). I have experienced all the different types of cheating and they are all painful. But I would have to agree, a one-night stand would have been much easier to deal with! And to top it all off, he “still loves me and always has”……so we are trying to fix things, but that’s another topic of discussion. Cheating is cheating…….period!

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  32. [...] cheating is cheating for me. Emotional, physical, whatever. If you’re texting, sexting, or chatting online with someone and you fear your husband would be [...]

  33. AnnaNo Gravatar says:

    I brought this subject up with a group of poeple around my age (18) and the majority of the guys stated that they were more inclined to forgive a one-night stand then an emotional affiar because the one-night stand was not an ongoing affair. They also said that since they were more emotionally invested in a girlfriend the betrayel would hurt more and last longer. The girls in my group said that emotionally and physically cheating amount to the same thing. Either way the person is hurt and the other knew it would hurt them and had no reguards for their feelings

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  36. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    It’s cheating. Period.

    And from experience, I can tell you that the effects of both are devastaing. Equally as bad.

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  43. Thanks for your comments ladies. I agree with you. They are both equally harmful and hurtful to the betrayed person. Physical and emotional.

  44. SJ TavoNo Gravatar says:

    I think it’s a pretty tough call on which is worse – physical or emotional cheating. Physical is an intimacy with another person while telling your partner, to whom you may be married, sharing a home, a child, etc… that you love him/her. Emotional, you are betraying the underlying relationship you have with your partner by seeking love/support from someone else. Both are a betrayal of the heart, no matter how you shake it down.

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  45. I feel that regardless if it is emotional or physical, it still is cheating. A few years ago I started to like another guy while I was dating my boyfriend, and he started to figure it out (how I have no idea.) I was 17 at the time and have matured SO much since then. I saw how much that hurt him and how badly it disrupted our relationship at the time. I know that I would never put him through anything like that again, and if I really did start developing REAL feelings for another guy, I would break it off until I cold figure my shit out. If you are with someone, that means you are with them emotional, mentally, physically, everything. And by giving one of those away to another person on a romantic or sexual level while in a committed relationship is not only disrespectful, but in my eyes, somewhat pathetic.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Emotional affairs are cheating! Shame shame.

  47. AlysaNo Gravatar says:

    I have a friend that does this, she has no shame. If you are doing something you wouldn’t want your SO finding out about, then you are doing something very wrong. A flirt here or there is no big deal, but over a period of time, constantly is a no go.

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