an emotional affair relationshipLast weekend I volunteered to work a baseball tournament.  It was a simple job as all I had to do was monitor the time of the games and call the tournament director with the official final scores.  I went to the first field armed with a bucket of baseballs and a bag of books and was ready to read the day away and work on my tan.

Also at the field was a high school baseball coach, who was required to spend the day doing virtually nothing except dragging the field and performing some diamond maintenance between games. 

Since the two of us were stuck together for about nine hours and neither of us knew anyone else around, it gave us an opportunity to talk.

We talked about our lives, families, jobs, etc.  It was interesting and it passed the time.  It also validated that I am a good conversationalist and that someone else finds me interesting. He could have very easily stayed up in the press box the whole time, but he chose to pull up a chair and sit next to me.

Anyways, when I find myself in these kinds of situations I think about Doug’s emotional affair and how it began. I try to put myself in his shoes and try to feel the way he felt. I know that in his eyes it began innocently with simple conversations with a co-worker. However, when did it cross the line and how did it change from an innocent conversation to an emotional affair relationship?

Thinking back to the many books I have read and the experts I have talked to… an affair begins in the head. The cheater begins to fantasize about the person and they begin to make up a story about that person. The cheater will sort of fill in the blanks with attributes that they deem desirable, but may not necessarily be accurate.

Looking back at my day at the ball field, I felt I knew a lot about this person.  I learned of his divorce, his remarriage, his children, their struggles, his hopes, his dreams, etc.  You can actually learn a lot about a person from a single conversation – especially one that lasts nine hours!  However, I know that it was a very controlled conversation.  He only shared the parts he wanted to and that displayed him in the best possible light.

His “story” was told only from his perspective.  I never had the opportunity to get another point of view.  However, I can see how I could have made him into be something he was not, and that perhaps a compliment or continued opportunities for interaction could have caused it to escalate.

The same is true in an emotional affair.  Cheating spouses are typically only experiencing their partners in a controlled situation.  They are only experiencing each other from their own perspectives.  Virtually every other part of their lives, character and personality are conceived in the cheater’s head. They can make that person be anyone they want, which usually turns out to be the perfect match for them.

The cheater’s other life (their real life) is put into a little compartment, almost like it doesn’t exist or affect them or their relationship in any way.  They know that they have a wife and a family but it has nothing to do with their emotional affair.  It is just a little nuisance that sometimes gets in the way.

What happens when the affair is discovered?  I can understand the cheater’s confusion about their feelings and how they got there in the first place. It seemed so wonderful while they were involved in their secret life, but soon they are questioning themselves as to how well they actually know the other person and what their feelings really are. Was it real, or just a story they created in their head?

When I think about the process of an emotional or physical affair and the feelings involved, I just feel that they are incomplete.  To me the feelings are missing so much of what an intimate, loving relationship should be. It is controlled, fake, and based on selfish needs.

I wonder if an affair progressed for any length of time, would the cheaters eventually feel a void and question if that’s all there is?  As much as I try to understand it and as much as I took an innocent conversation and attempted to move it along in my head to understand Doug’s emotional affair, I still don’t get it.  To me, married love is a complete union that offers so much more.


    14 replies to "Is an Emotional Affair Relationship Complete?"

    • mark

      Such a good post, Linda. Said so much better than my angry outbursts. I still can never reconcile how the cheater can feel that this is a “good person” they are involved with. How the OP can be a decent person with the full knowledge they are deceiving two spouses and two sets of children. I can’t get past that.

      • Amy

        I can’t get past that either Mark! My husband used those exact same words, that she was a “good person, good mother”. And I have to say no way! Good people don’t betray their families. Good mothers don’t sneek around texting, calling and emailing a married man. I will never buy it and I get very offended when he says that I am such a “good person”. Yes I am! But since you’ve also used those words to describe her, they mean nothing to me. As you can tell, I still struggle with forgiveness too! Somedays I think I’ve mastered it and others it just doesn’t make sense that someone can do this to their spouses and families. It’s such a long journey, but I’m hoping one day I will finally reach my destination. Good luck!

        • mark

          Exactly, Amy. I feel the same way. In fact, a couple days after I caught them communicating five months after it was supposed to be over, she said to me” he is not a bad guy”. I showed the most self-restraint I have ever shown in my life. I was ready to rip the steering wheel off of the care. I couldn’t believe these words were coming from my wife. This “good man” was destroying my life. This ” good man” would tell my wife that his wife is always crabby and bitchy. This “good man’ was an active betrayer of our vows. This coming from a wife who throughout our marriage just ripped apart anybody who was unfaithful.

          I would just like to know exactly, when the disconnect with reality occurs in the cheating spouses? Where are the thoughts about how the children will perceive them if they are caught? Do they not care anymore about the kids? Are they so f…ed up in the head that it doesn’t even occur to them anymore?
          I just don’t understand. I don’t know if I ever will.

    • mark

      Oh…and if anybody can teach me how to truly forgive, I’d appreciate it. This goes back to many people from my childhood.

      • blueskyabove


        Sometimes I think we place too much stress on ourselves and we just need to give ourselves some slack. I’ve come to believe that forgiving, like most things in life, begins with one small step. Just the acknowledgement that you would truly like to forgive may be all that’s needed to set the wheels in motion. I’m not suggesting it will miraculously happen (although that is certainly possible). I’m just saying it’s a place to start. The desire to forgive can be a powerful motivator and your statement seems to indicate you already have that desire. Maybe you just need to let it happen.

      • Saddenned


        I have the forgiveness issue too. It has been 16 weeks since D day. On some days, it feels like a nightmare and on others I am coping much better. We finished marriage counseling, I still go to individual counseling and I am taking anti anxiety medication. We don’t generally talk about what happenned anymore. My fear is always on whether it will happen again or not. I no longer compare myself to her. My husband loves me, I know he does, but I feel like I am trapped in a time warp sometimes and I cannot completely forgive. Many of Linda’s posts have sounded just like me. She has a tendency to analyze situations just like I do. I can cope and deal with everyday life now, but not a single day goes by that hasn’t been changed by this emotional affair. Hang in there.

    • Candace

      I think that by keeping the affair open & incomplete is part of the attraction for the CS & OP. They are only likely to see a happy ending too. Married love is special but often times, taken for granted, thus the PA & EA occur. My H’s EA has effected every aspect of my life. We are truely working on our marriage & it seems much healthier.

      There is something EVERYDAY that makes me think about his EA. I know that we are moving past it, but it does take time. I am no longer feeling the rug completely being pulled out from under me as in the past when I thought of the EA, but the confusion is still there.

      • Dakota

        Candace i completly agree..

    • Paula

      My other half worked out the “fantasy” part of being with the OW really early on. Because she lived a few hours away, they only saw each other in person every now and then – usually she would drive down while I was at work, or kids’ sports events and three times, he drove to her, while I thought he was hard at work. I passed him on the road one day while doing a “town run” at my work, as he had to drive past the entrance to my workplace to get to her, but I never thought anything of it, he says his heart was racing as he sped by my work gate! He is 47, a farmer, and a little technophobic, I should have known something was up when he went and upgraded his phone and call plan himself, he’d never do that in normal circumstances, that was one of my jobs! 500 texts a month for a man of few words is excessive, previously, I looked back, there were between 20-50!

      Anyway, he told her about 6 months in, that he knew he’d made a mistake, that he was sorry for mucking her around, but he’d like to step out and back to his family, please. She giggled and said, “don’t panic, we’re just having a little fun, that’s all I want, where’s the harm.” So he replied, “okay, let’s end it then,”and every time he did, she threatened to tell me, his parents, our children, etc, so he would carry on for a bit longer, all the while trying to encourage her to see other people, hoping she would form an attachment elsewhere, and he would be off the hook, he would cancel plans, to put her off, as he carefully tried to extract himself from his bad situation, and try to avoid detection, she grabbed on tighter and tighter, blackmailing him, yes, he paid her, but also emotional blackmail, “I’ll tell her if you leave, my mother and I will go visit your parents, and explain to them, etc, etc” This woman turned very bunny-boiler, very quickly. I have since found out she bought a wedding dress and told her aunt she was getting married that year, and that she wanted to have another child, and soon. She lost a diamond ring while away at one stage and told my other half that it was okay, because she’d be getting another one soon, wouldn’t she? He thought it was a joke, but in retrospect, I think he now realises she wasn’t laughing! He never told her he loved her, and I do believe that.

      He told her that they were living in fantasy land, she’s never had a relationship last more than six months in her 43 years, and never lived with a partner, she had no idea how the dynamics of a family worked, and that a blended family would be even harder. He pointed out that they would still have contact with me, as the mother of his children, and he says he could picture a time where he’d left me for her, and very soon after, he and I were having coffee, and he confessed to me that he was very unhappy and had made the wrong call, and she was out having an affair, he’d been with her before, in his early 20s, and that’s exactly what happened every time he got busy with something that wasn’t her, eg work! He pointed out to her, that when they did meet, they were on such a tight schedule, that an hour or an hour and a half was about it, no indication of real life, just fun, fun, fun. What a mess.

      Yes, I have thought about the ease with which we can have “lovely” chats and “connections”with people, especially those of the opposite sex, and how that could turn into an attachment so easily, I just naively thought I had a “good one” who thought the same as me, and knew that taking it any further would be devastating to both of us. Just wish I could keep it together! He knows what he did, he is completely remorseful, and has done everything he can to make it better, but I’m not really better. In fact, the first 6 months after D Day were pretty good, obviously I was hurt, but I was logical, forgiving and loving, everything was gonna work out, but I just can’t seem to keep on the path, my heart is still so shredded, and the glue that’s holding the bits together keeps failing just when I dare to think I’m gonna be okay again.

    • sosad

      I really wish that I could believe that my h would find that his EA is not fullfilling or imcoplete but I think at this point he is beyond that. He has recently moved out. The ow serpareated from her h a few months ago and they have filed for divorce. I truly believe that my h feels that he can have a real relationship with her. His feelings are so strong for her that it seems like he looks at our marriage as just a relationship, like boyfriend/girlfriend. He does not value the seriousness of the marriage and the vows. It was all to easy for him to decided to leave. He left on the pretext of wanting time and space to think about us. He is making no effort to work on us at all but I know for a fact that he has been out with her a couple of times. They get together in a round about way with another couple trying to make it not look like a date but it’s still a date. He also said that he would not pursue a physical relationship with her as long as we were still married. He said he felt very stongly about that but he is weak and I no longer trust him. I have a feeling that they got physical this last weekend. Just some background…the ow was a good friend of mine. Her kids were my kids best friends. We went on all together last summer. About mid summer, my brother became terminal with cancer and went on hospice. For two and a half months, I traveled back and forth helping to take care of him while he died. During that time is when the EA started. I feel so betrayed, humilated. There are days when I wish that I could just stop existing. I went through all of that hell with my brother, all I wanted was to come home and be with my family and love them. Now, I am faced with my world falling apart. One of the reasons that I married my h was that I knew he would be a good father. Now, I wish he wasn’t such a good father, that he didn’t care so much about his kids. I want nothing more than to take my kids and move away. Start over. I do not want them to have to go through the agony of watching my husband build a relationship with this woman. My kids are young but I know that will ask questions. How do you explain this to them. When they get of enough and truly comprehend that dad left me and broke apart his family for her, how will they feel about him then? He keeps telling me that he knows all of this. It’s not a lesson that he wanted to teach them but yet he is still doing it. I just don’t understand how he can be sooooo selfish. I don’t mean to bring others down. I am happy for those here that their spouses are willing to work on their marriage. You are lucky. I wish that my spouse had been willing to at least stay. Sorry, for such a long post. I come to this site everyday looking for encouragement and hope. This is a great site. I just wish that I didn’t need it.

      • betrayedchump

        I speak for all of us members of this BS group, we are sorry that you have unwillingly become a member! I was unfortunately in the same boat as you are in now, my CS wasn’t willing to take even the smallest of steps to try & save/fix/repair/renew our relationship/marriage. There is nothing I can say or tell you that will magically fix how you feel about the betrayal you are going through. For me it has been absolutely the worst thing to happen to me in my lifetime, far worse than the loss of any of my friends, extended family members or the death of my parents!!!! Yes the fortunate ones whose CS have made the decision to work to save/fix/repair/renew their relationship/marriage have NO IDEA HOW LUCKY they are!!!! The BS has to take another leap of faith that their CS was/is worth taking back or the relationship/marriage would be over, grace costs one something when it is given!
        The life lessons I have learned through my ordeal are:
        It is NOT your fault this has happened to you, this was NEVER about you or your relationship/marriage! This is only about your CS’s selfish wants, NOT NEEDS BUT WANTS! I Want to be happy, I want my soulmate, I want my ego stroked, blah, blah, blah!!!! You are NOT the one with head problems, it is your CS!!!!
        Your CS has free-will to do whatever the hell they want to do, you can’t make them want to save/fix/repair/renew your relationship/marraige! It doesn’t matter how much you want them/love them & want your relationship/marriage to continue, this really, really, really hurts mosts of all IMO but this is out of your control!!!!
        I will NEVER UNDERSTAND everything about this bad choice/poor decision my CS made, however it is the CS’s cross to bear not the BS! You can hold your head high, you didn’t make the decision to cheat, betray everything you believed in & who believed in you, you remained true to yourself, your values, your morals & your beliefs!!!!
        It is a long tough road pulling yourself up from underneath the rubble left from the collapse of your relationship/marriage but it can & it must be done, Surviving divorce care classes, surviving divorce support groups, this on-line site, go to Church, bible study classes, Yoga classes, Meditation classes, Karate classes, Cooking classes, Sky Diving classes, Rock Climbing classes, Walking Backward classes, whatever class is available that you want to explore to HELP YOU HEAL DO IT!!!!
        It may seem hopeless, impossible, neverending BUT IT DOES GET BETTER!!!! TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE, you aren’t the one dragging/carrying that heavy cross around, one day the weight of that cross will crush the bearer of it, be glad it isn’t you!!!!!
        Peace to All.

    • appalled

      It has been 14 weeks, things have gotton alot better.Actually better than ever. My wife goes out of her way to communicate many times a day, I think she feels a ton of guilt. As soon as I accidently found out, my wife dropped her EA. She realized how life might be without me and she said it scared her. I am fortunate things are better than ever but not a day goes by that I don’t think of what happened and WHY!

    • Beckyb2

      The only ideal you mentioned that is wrong there are no needs being met by cheating there are self centered selfish WANTS. Needs are basic easily met by never cheating yet wants as I was raised to know for a fact will never hurt me or kill me nor will they ever hurt anyone else. Wants are imaginary wants are illusion as in if they only had what they wanted they would be happy hmm happy is a state of mind not an action . While adultery/cheating/whoring are actions that create UNHAPPINESS and a failure to meet basic needs by cheating and wanting what isn’t ours.

    • Beckyb2

      The one thing that I am at such an unalterable position cheaters never cheat for a need they selfishly and immaturely get their self centered wants playing deadly games. Needs are basic easily met wants are never going to hurt us they can however create devastation when immoralallity and I wantitis fuels the immature childish entitlement cheaters use for self justification. Cheating makes me think of a two year old having a temper tantrum of I wantitis silly adults acting like toddlers

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