It doesn’t matter whether someone is rationalizing the emotional affair as totally innocent or that the other person is “just a friend.”

rationalizing the emotional affairBy Linda & Doug

We often hear from readers how their spouses are rationalizing the emotional affair that they’re having as nothing but a friendship, or a business relationship or some other innocent type of relationship.

The thing is though, that much of the details of the “friendship” is being kept a secret or is minimized in some way. Then what often happens is a little bit down the road, it turns out that this relationship has become even more friendly or it really has been so from the very beginning.

Hidden texts and/or emails are found and it becomes quite evident now that the “friendship” was indeed an emotional affair. However, the spouse will probably still deny it.

Even though emotional affairs have become much more common and more prominent in the media, there are still many people who simply don’t believe they exist or just deny that they do. Most of these folks tend to define affairs only in terms of whether there was sex or not.

However, in our opinion an emotional affair is an affair, plain and simple, because there was deception.

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So what is deception?

Wikipedia’s take on deception is…

Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs of things that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand, as well as distraction, camouflage, or concealment. There is also self-deception, as in bad faith.

Deception is a major relational transgression that often leads to feelings of betrayal and distrust between relational partners. Deception violates relational rules and is considered to be a negative violation of expectations. Most people expect friends, relational partners, and even strangers to be truthful most of the time. If people expected most conversations to be untruthful, talking and communicating with others would require distraction and misdirection to acquire reliable information. A significant amount of deception occurs between romantic and relational partners.

The late author Peggy Vaughan (“Monogamy Myth”) wrote that an affair has taken place when someone does any of the following:

  1. secretly engages in a relationship with another person that involves any kind of sexual activity.
  2. secretly becomes involved in a sexually-charged relationship with another person, without actual sexual activity.
  3. secretly develops a deeply meaningful emotional connection that is “platonic.”
  4. secretly engages in any variation or combination of the above.
See also  The Emotional Affair Still Causes Pain

So secrecy and deception are the keys to an affair—not sex.

And many have told us that it’s not always the act of infidelity itself that is the hardest thing to get over, it’s the deception that occurred and the lengths that their cheating spouse went through to carry out the deception. It’s more about the breaking of trust than it is about having sex or not.

Shirley Glass in her book NOT “Just Friends” writes:

Eighty-two percent of the unfaithful partners I’ve treated have had an affair with someone who was, at first, ‘just a friend.’ … Secret emotional intimacy is the first warning sign of impending betrayal.

If a person has an ongoing interaction with someone with whom they have been very honest in sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings, this can generate feelings that perpetuate even more sharing and closeness. If left unchecked, eventually this “friendship” is likely to cause serious harm to the marriage.

It really doesn’t matter whether someone thinks an emotional relationship is totally innocent or that the other person is “just a friend.” The fact is that emotional affairs are deceptive relationships that will eventually escalate if they do not end first. Therefore, it is critical that all contact with the third party be cut off before it escalates – and the involved persons need to stop kidding themselves that the relationship was innocent.


    61 replies to "Rationalizing the Emotional Affair as ‘Just Friends’"

    • Lynn

      yes indeed. Today was the day 3 yrs ago my husband started up with his “friend”, unbeknownst to me at the time. While I was getting ready for our Grandkids to come over for Halloween, he was emailing w HER.I even took a family video and he sent it to HER that night.

      Halloween is a huge trigger for me today…..:)

      Oh and he met her at his work-not a fellow employee but a customer at Home Depot. The color orange and Halloween don’t sit too well with me. And Nov 4 will be when the phonecalls began……

      • betrayedchump

        I am sorry that you have had to become a member of the nightmare of betrayal without asking/wanting to belong to the club. Remember you did nothing wrong!
        It was NOT about you or your marriage or kids or anything else regarding your relationship/marriage. It was all about him & how selfish he was! Keep reminding yourself you have made it through this painful Halloween trigger before, it is only one day, only 24 hours & each hour that goes by today gets you closer to tomorrow! Tomorrow is a NEW day that holds hope, promise & life to be LIVED!
        Peace to you!

        • Lynn

          Thank you, BC

      • AnnaB

        I can so relate to your triggers. Someone who hasn’t been cheated on would find it strange that the colour orange could upset someone. But I must have over a hundred triggers and although they’re getting easier to bear, I can’t believe they will ever stop affecting me. It’s been 3 years since our DDay and I recently started counselling to deal with the anger I feel towards the OW. She and my H were co-workers, and lunches turned into dinners, and then music concerts and the most fabulous restaurants and opera!!!! It hurts that I was never treated to such lovely things, but I guess the fantasy world of an affair means doing things that aren’t mundane, otherwise there’s no point. My triggers range from Dolly Parton to Burberry aftershave!! It would be funny if it wasn’t so bloody annoying!!

    • Jeddy

      The first email I saw was on Halloween too, when things took a turn from business to discussing personal things, but not inappropriately. But still made me pause, having never sent my boss a note at 10pm to try and bust him for eating candy! So cute! Barf.

      I want to bounce the following off some of you, because I’m conflicted. My h had a 5 mo pa w a coworker, and when I divulged the gore to her husband I embellished – outright lied – about 1 thing. She has been fired.

      None of the following is true: I told the other h that the pa coincided with another affair my h was having with a younger single woman attorney who I didn’t know, that while he hid the real ow in hotels and never in public, he actually wined and dined the young one and took her on weekend airplane required trips. That he ended the real ow to focus more on the young one was implied. That perhaps the ow had even met or known her? End of lie.

      Telling him this scratched my revenge itch. There is no contact at all between them, but I wanted her to feel discarded and not all that special, and lied to, and used, and unknowing, and sickened. Which was how I had felt. It was an indirect f*** you. Ethically, I know it was wrong, but it seems like a victimless crime frankly. I’d love to know what people think about this. My h is unaware of this exchange. He is in full reconciliation mode, disgusted and ashamed and remorseful, and compensating me for all the $$$. If the marriage does work out, I’m sure this is something we could laugh about later on, but Im pretty sure it’s too soon lol. Anyway I’m throwing it out there. All contact w the other husband has also stopped, his last comment to me was “ow is unaware of the identity of the young attorney”. I’ve never replied and deleted his contact info. How wrong was what I did?

      • CBb

        Jeddy, I would not worry about it. You did far less damage than what was done to you.

        I had to be nice to my CH’s AP/OW to find out what was really going on. All I knew was one day we were reconciling and he loved me, then he wanted a divorce. Next day that was all a big mistake and he wanted me back (while I knew nothing of the EA). Then we went for counseling and he told the therapist how he wanted to be married and loved me, kids, our family, blah, blah, blah. Then he ended it again three days later.

        The onlybreaon I found out anything was b/c I picked up the phone and called her. And she was honest and told me they had been seeing each other the past few months.

        Now it all made sense.

        But I never said one unkind word to this girl b/c she helped me keep my sanity and realize it was my CH’s issue.

        So Jeddy you really did nothing wrong except a minor revengeful act. Believe me I have heard worse.

        These guys who are our H are lucky they are not dead or maimed or scarred for life. Maybe Lorena Bobbit had the right idea. Just cut off their privates to teach them a lesson (LOL)!

        I always wonder if they would put up with the same Bull*?#% if the shoe were on the other foot. That should be an open mic topic!!!

        • betrayedchump

          Yes it is unfair that the law is on the side of the CS & OW/OM, NOT the BS, The law protects them from the CS settling things the OLD FASHIONED way, AN ASS KICKING, PUT THEM IN THE STOCKADE, FLOGG THEM, TAR & FEATHER THEM, PULL OUT THE SIX-SHOOTER, FIND THE TALLEST TREE & GET THE ROPE!!!!!!!
          I envy you that you were able to get your questions answered by the OW. Your case has to be the exception to the rule regarding answers from the OW/OM????
          I can’t answer for any of the other men out there who were betrayed by their CS but when the shoe was on my foot, I would NOT & could NOT put up with the BULLSHIT!!!! The unfortunate part of NOT putting up with my CS’s bullshit was that my CS decided if I wouldn’t let her keep her EA SCUMBAG MM boyfriend, she didn’t want me!!!!!!!!
          Peace to you!

      • Tryinghard


        Rock on sister!!!! That was awesome!! And just think her husband probably embellished even more. I love it.

        The ow in my h life was seeing her ex step son at the same time she was seeing my h. He called me the day after DDay. I will forever hold him in high esteem. He’s a regular beer guzzling, motorcycle riding, guy. So opposite of my h. He called him and really rubbed it in his face that he was getting sloppy seconds from him. It was great but I guess it was also a pretty base and disgusting conversation.
        It’s all so tacky. Nothing you could do is worse than what he did! Good for you girlfriend. This is war after all.

    • allayfig222

      You get a great big BRAVA from me! I truly wish I had done exactly what you did when I found out about the ea three years ago.
      My h had a physical affair with MG during his first marriage and then broke it off. She facebooked him after we had been married 34 years and there were 1650 phone calls totaling 17,000 minutes plus 600 texts and at least 100 emails (no physical contact because she lives 1300 miles away).
      I desperately wanted to inform her husband, but both husbands are lawyers and mine was afraid he could be sued for alienation of affection. I said nothing to her h. Now he has passed away and my h and I have had a very hard time with this, but, to the best of my knowledge, the ow has suffered no consequences, not even emotional ones. I wish I had done what you did! You are my hero!

      • Jeddy

        Interesting how our legal contracts – the marriage licenses – were never a concern, but when exposure is coming, fear of the law kicks in. The ow, as a direct report to my h, had grounds for a sexual harassment suit even though the relationship was consensual, so he kept her on until she signed a termination letter absolving the company of everything a year later.

        I maintained my fidelity – talk about alienation of affection – and upheld the contract to which I was bound, even though I was in the same shitty marriage. He also never thought about my hiring a divorce attorney to deal with his mess. The law only applied when it could be used to protect himself and the affair.

    • Rachel

      Thank you Doug!

    • CBB

      This really IS the issue. Although things are feeling better it’s the attitude of ‘she’s just a good friend’ and ‘it might have been a little of the edge ‘ My H keeps repeting she is convinced she did nothing wrong and just ridiculises it, my H told me even her H thinks it’s just a joke and my lack of humor … I despise of the OW but shifting between thinking he’s not as bad as her but is he? It takes 2 to tango. I’m afraid I’m starting to despise of him for not fully feeling accountable for this mess… But if I start despising I feel like taking distance again instead of moving closer…

      • Tryinghard


        Did I misunderstand? Your h is mad because he thinks it was a joke that you don’t find funny ? Oh please say I am wrong.

        What the eff is funny about affairs and lying and deceit? Nothing unless you are a fucking moron!!!

        Yeah if my h thought any of that crap was funny he’d be feeling that door kicking him in the ass.

      • AnnaB

        CBB, I reckon your H is telling you that the OW’s H finds it funny just to stop you making a scene. What husband would find it funny that his wife is shagging someone else? The Cheats lie during the affair, which means they can lie after the affair. It’s been 3 years since our DDay and although we are making a go of our marriage, the trust will never come back. I don’t necessarily believe that once a cheat always a cheat, but I do believe that once a liar always a liar – they’ve had so much practice that it becomes normal to them!

    • CBB

      TH, I don’t really get the feeling he’s mad at me, it feels as if he’s trying to minimize his guilt by bying into her story, and as even her H bies into it we probably should be the “suckers” by letting this ruin our marriage. I can’t really blame him as he was brought up that way. I think deep down he knows just doesn’t know how to manage it as he was brought up in lies and keeping up appearance . Just wish he could be man enough to face the consequences. Or doesn’t he understand what the impact is as he still doesn’t look at it as being as bad as an “affair”…

      • tryinghard

        Well phew that must be a big relief off your mind to know he’s not mad at you!!! Are you serious?? So what if he’s mad? That jerk has no reason to be mad at you. You’re mad at him remember?

        Don’t make excuses for him. Sounds like he makes plenty of excuses all by himself. Yeah so ok he had shitty role models for parents. So what!! Grow the eff up!!! And HELL YES you can blame him!! Who else can you blame, YOU, his parents, President Obama??? WTF he’s the one solely responsible for HIS choices no one else. He did this, no one else. Don’t sugar coat or allow his gaslighting to convince you otherwise!!

        And really you’re letting these two loser friends, the OW and her loser husband, dictate to you how you’re supposed to feel about the affair? Friends like that who needs enemies??? Kick those loser friends to the curb and go NO CONTACT!! Unless of course you’re afraid you husband will leave you and you just need to keep doing the pick me dance! They’re trying to turn you into a fool CBB don’t let them do that to you. You deserve better. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by your friends and your husband. They can’t at least be honest and face up to their nasty, tacky, deceitful behavior what on earth do you have to lose??

        • Strengthrequired

          Cbb, I agree with th, don’t let your h blame you. No way this is your fault. He has to man up and own his actions that hurt you. Tbh, I don’t understand why the ow husband is the way he is, maybe he likes the fact his wife went out chasing another man, or maybe he doesn’t mind sharing with your h. It is just strange that he would think nothing of his wife having an affair with your h, and think it was nothing but a joke. Where did he come up with that idea? I am shocked he is not as upset as you are, yet he seems to just not care.
          As th said, with friends like these who needs enemy’s?
          Am I right at saying that they are not good influences on your h? I believe eb cause of the way the ow h has reacted to his wife affair with your h, that your h now feels as though you are over reacting and if her h thinks it’s just a joke, then you should be laughing hysterically along side her h. So ownership of how much he hurt you, isn’t taken on board so much. They are treating it as nothing, then where is the guilt your h needs to feel, if he thinks it is ok? Maybe her h chests on her, and he let her get one out of her system, I really don’t know, but I believe you need to get away from these people for your own sanity.
          You know your h wronged you, don’t let him sugar coat it into nothing.

          • CBB

            Thanks for the support. Being 3y past Dday I did manage to come back to ‘ME’ that is a person with strong principles of respect, I have my own values and my own ranking of them but I was quite tolerant towards others as in ‘ I would hardly Judge’ anyone in the idea that I didn’t know the whole story and it was not up to me to Judge. That is to say I mingle in the social circles of schoolyards, work related events of our small town where a lot of fake snobisme goes around. It never really bothered me because I stood above it all, I didn’t need to follow the troops but I appreciated those variety of people without having them to close. But now it’s hard to stand above it all, it broke me real bad. I don’t need them as friends but she’s a narcissist. Ever since Dday she tries climbing up the ladder of every social circle I’m in. I volunteered in the girls sportsclub, she looked down on it before, I couldn’t care but I made some nice contacts. This year she volunteered to manage our girls (best friends) team. Do I change my kids sports activities on her account. She climbs up some social contacts who are convinced we’re still friends so we end up being invited to dinner, do I chicken out once I find out she’ll be there to… This is how far it goes. If I want no contact the only thing we could do is leave this town all together, break up all contact with the childrens friends because once she feels we might be finding new friends she tries to get in. I’m not really buying the ‘joke story’ of the OW H either. I just don’t think he’s been told the real story. Or indeed he has accepted his wife’s needs of attention . I’m waiting for the day I’m strong enough to politly decline one of his invitions just mentioning enoug mess was made already…You know “fully in controle” no emotions exept maybe some contempt just to see his reaction. If he’s as bad as his W I’m keeping face, if not it might wake him up. I’m convinced that any tiny emotion would feel as playing in her cards again. Just afraid if I ever heve the guts I’ll end up with a boiled bunny (she’ the type just because she was exposed not for teh persuit…)

            • Strengthrequired

              I hear you, cb, just please make sure you do what is right for you. The ow sounds like she is trying to get to you, by keeping in your face. Please just be careful, and don’t do anything you are uncomfortable with, you need to look after you. hugs to you.

    • 2nd Time Around

      Okay I need a reality check. My husband claims that none of his EA’s where aware of his feelings or fantasies about them. Although he did refer to one of them as his “work wife”. She is the one that he spent the most time talking to and interacting with.

      So let’s assume that he is correct would you still consider this an EA? He did not tell me about any of these women, his fantasies, or feelings. He did however “check out” of our marriage while this was going on. So secrets and deception were certainly a part of what went on.

      We have been unable to give what he did a name. I know that sound silly but I need it to have a name in order to continue to move forward!


      • exercisegrace

        Sorry but I am going to throw the bs flag on this one. Just because he didn’t tell them he was attracted to them and had feelings for them, doesn’t mean they didn’t know. Women in general are very perceptive, and can read the extra attention, body language, and topics of conversation and easily tell if a man is attracted to her. I am sure this woman reciprocated, because something was feeding his fantasies and behavior. Just because it isn’t called a spade, doesn’t make it something else.

        At best, I would call it a betrayal. If you are doing or saying things you wouldn’t want your spouse to see or hear? You are betraying them. The fact that he was checked out of the marriage means he was more invested in this other relationship and in my book, that is pretty much the definition of an affair.

        • tryinghard

          LOL EG I think we are soul sisters!!! Well said. At the very least he was acting inappropriately and very worst he was having an EA or even a PA given all the women he chose to fantasize about.

          Fantasies are ok as long as you leave them as fantasies. Normal people know where to draw the line and you leave them in your imagination. But too many fantasies and the urge to act upon them spells nothing but trouble. This is what the H has done in 2nd Time’s case.

          I recommend 2nd Time read Not Just Friends. What you call it is beside the point. A better question is How do You Feel Staying With a Person Who Has Checked Out Of the Marriage due to his fantasies?? You’re a big girl, you know what reality is. And more so he’s an adult. He knows what he’s doing. Call BullShit on it like EG said. He wants to live in LaLa land that’s his mistake, you do the same that’s YOUR mistake.

          • 2nd Time Around

            EG and TH,

            LOL!!! I have thrown up the BS flag many many times!!!

            EG you made the same point that I have made with him over and over again! Women are very perceptive and they would not have kept talking to him if they didn’t get something out of the encounter!!

            Part of his denial is that he swears that he didn’t do anything that he wouldn’t do right in front of me! Well I know that is BS because there were a couple of instances when he got calls after hours on his work phone and left the room to talk to them.

            If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck!!!

            You both are saying the same things I have said over and over!! If he checked out of the relationship that is the real issue!! Everything else is secondary to that issue.

            I have read the Not just friends post as has my husband. I completely agree these relationships no matter what label we give them are inappropriate to say the least!

            Just needed to get a reality check!!

            Thanks ladies!!

          • exercisegrace

            TH, we are TOTALLY soul sisters!! But I will disagree with fantasies being okay. Because I actually think that is where affairs are conceived. When we begin to fantasize about how that person at work might react to our good news, or our desire for sex tonight or our need for some pampering? It’s the first step onto the slippery slope. The cheating spouse conveniently forgets the reasons why their spouse is tired. They were up all night with a puking child, dealing with their own work crisis, facing a mountain of chores after arriving home from work, and so on. If the person at work begins to be inserted into a fantasy of , then of course their actions/words meet ALL the needs of the cheating spouse who is writing the script in his mind. While the needs in this example might be valid, the timeline for getting them met is not. When the fantasy is run over and over, the person begins to take on traits they don’t really have. And the spouse always comes out the loser. Sadly, none of it is based on anything close to reality and the cheating spouse begins to interact with the potential affair partner at work based more on the “idea” of this person rather than the person they actually ARE.

            • tryinghard

              I mis-spoke. I wasn’t referring to fantasizing about a specific person. Fantasies in general. Heck I fantasize about living in Paris someday and I’ve been there many times. But I know I won’t ever live in Paris! But I can dream. It’s a stress reliever, kinda Walter Mitty like.

              Even sexual fantasies are ok. Maybe not about a specific person especially one at work. That’s where fantasy and reality crash. I do think if you can’t have sexual relations with your primary partner and have to rely on fantasy something is obviously not working. That should be a red flag for everyone. But a little escapism never hurt anyone 🙂

              I restarted the Co-Dependent No More book. How far are you in it? I think when I first started it I was right in the middle of discovery and NONE of it resonated. Now it’s really applicable.

            • exercisegrace

              Gotcha. And I think David Beckham totally could make the acceptable fantasy list, ha ha ha. I very much agree that if you spend more time and energy on your fantasies than in your reality, it is a huge red flag.

              I also put that book down for awhile. I’m not really sure why, except perhaps it was hitting too close to home? I will pick it back up if you are sister!! I don’t remember where I am, but I will check.

            • tryinghard

              Ah yes David.Beckham!!! LOL I’m so old I still fantasize about Sting!!!

              I know I put the book down because it started talking about co-dependents and rescuing people. I was not going accept the being the rescuer was a bad thing. It was only until I went through therapy did I learn that rescuing normally sucked for the rescuer and that there are just some folks you can’t rescue. Much more to it than that. Regardless the books resonates more intellectually for me now.

              Can’t wait to hear your take on it.

      • theresa

        What did the AP tell him?
        Did he say or do anything to give the AP the wrong idea?
        Did he discuss his marriage, you in unflattering terms, eg, she’s a bitch, frigid, fat, stupid, etc?
        Did they ever discuss the future?

        You can show affection without saying a word. It’s just a matter of semantics. Both verbal and non-verbal.

    • tryinghard

      When you are truly genuine, there will be people who do not accept you. And in that case, you must be your own badass self, without apology.
      Katie Goodman

      Please friends, let’s just go out and be our own genuine badass selves!

    • CBB

      2nd TA, we kept arguing over that same definition, I intially was glad to find this site as I never heard about the term EA before. For me it defined what I felt was wrong. The fact my H keeps arguing that it wasn’t a “real” affair kept me replying : so what DID it was then, are you saying it was a normal way of ineracting with a female friend/co-worker? At least he did admit it wasn’t realy cosher….I don’t think either of them had any intention of leaving their marriages, they just enjoyed flirting behind my back. My H was in a depression at the time, the OW just moves to the next prey.
      But even if I did want to believe they never knew it was flirting wich might be at first. I would imagine that if a friend or my husband told me (s)he felt like I was coming on to her H or OM I would react otherwise : If it were true but I really didn’t mean any harm I would appoligize and back-off in a way there would be no doubt in my further actions but not go undercover and hide even more. I would not tease trying to figure out where the limits were. It doesn’t really mather what they want to call it .For me the tormenting question is how ” accountable ” they realy are. I would like to compare it to “psychopats” to put it extreme they know whats wright and wrong, they are in controle of their actions but they will never “feel” guilt. I (and i guess most of us) are so sensitive we distinguisch all those little nuances they probably can’t. No use waiting for an appolagy it won’t be worth it. I do get some feeling of guilt and remorce from my H but not enough… Just want to have a sense of how far he stands in that spectrum. The OW was quikly moved to the edge of narcisme. With my H it’s a lot more difficult to place .Is it because it’s less easy to stand back and observe?

      • 2nd Time Around


        Nice to hear that I am not the only one dealing with someone who like to argue over what to call it!!

        He admits that checking out of the relationship was wrong and does feel both guilt and remorse for that. He still just can’t wrap his head around how the things he did while he was checked out have had such a big impact on me or our relationship. He gets stuck on this whole fantasy vs reality thing!! It makes me crazy!!

        He swears that he is no longer living in a fantasy world. I am looking to tangible changes in how he interacts with these women. I have seen changes in how he acts toward me but he doesn’t get that he may still be sending the wrong message to these other women.

        You hit the nail o the head! After D-Day he continued to do some things and just lied or hid them from me. That just made the problem worse! Depending on the day and his mood he sometimes gets that and sometimes doesn’t.

        My favorite part is that he just wants to sweep it all under the rug and move forward!!

    • theresa

      I used to think the term “flirting” was a female label. The list of the symptoms of flirting contains a lot of mannerisms, terms, behaviors, body language specific to women.
      The signals are out there and are easily recognizable by both sexes.
      I do think that at times the acting out may be on a subconscious level. The flirter did not realized the message their actions were sending, how those actions were perceived by the flirtee.
      Once you are aware of the label of “flirting behaviors” is assigned to those actions it becomes a conscious choice. (Sound verbose?). You both understand the signals.
      You can no longer claim ignorance. I did not know, that’s not what I intended, it’s just harmless fun,you are crazy, that’s bullshit, …..
      You have created a private intimate connection between you.
      exercisegrace has said it best.
      You are engaging in an “intimacy building opportunity”.

      Anyway, so what do you think are the flirting behaviors of men?
      Men do you know what signals you are sending?
      What the op assumes from the way you are acting?
      What the rest of the world assumes from your behavior?
      What the rest of the world thinks about your wife?
      Are you open to the fact that what you are doing is out of bounds?
      Do you disagree on the label?
      Do you refusemto modify your behavior?
      Even when she tells you it is hurtful to her?
      You play, your wife pays.

      • exercisegrace

        Really good Theresa. I think men flirt as much as women, it just isn’t as universally recognized. I also think it is more subtle behaviors, such as a dominant body posture, a lingering smile for no reason, unnecessary touches, etc. More direct things might be stopping by your desk or office more often than usual, asking if you need help, offering to pick up coffee when they are “going out anyway”, and trying to create “inside jokes” or other small connections that are just between the two of you. Mostly it is some combination of these things, with a dead give away being someone who suddenly begins to veer conversation into the personal realm, asking about your hobbies, interest or your weekend.

        After spending the last two years reading the blogs of betrayed spouses, it is clear that most people can and DO fool themselves into thinking that if there is no physical contact, then it is not out of line. Of course once physical contact DOES happen, it’s too late to turn the bus around. I know that I am now more aware than ever of how I speak to men and how that might be perceived. I am also quick to give a cool response to any flirtatious banter directed my way as well.

      • betrayedchump

        I now look @ my & my X’s interactions with the opposite sex in a totally differant view than I did before my CS EA & eventual divorce. When I had complete trust for my X, my feathers didn’t get ruffled if she danced with another man, accepted a drink from another man, talked to another man or even gave a frontal hug to another man, We both knew these men, a benefit of living in a small town. I trusted her, she was mine & she was going home with me NOT THEM! However if she danced several dances with the same man or a man I didn’t know it would ruffle my feathers. I wasn’t the one getting the constant attention & offers from the opposite sex that she was always receiving. I was not perfect, I would talk to women we both knew when my X wasn’t present, I would buy them drinks but only as a group NOT one individual drink to strike up a conversation with one individual woman. I didn’t dance with other women, NOT my thing, did NOTHING for me, I didn’t want someone else!
        I was/am guilty of being a HUGGER. I didn’t think of it as crosssing the line? I NOW look @ a frontal hug with anyone of the opposite sex in a differant light! It sends signals to everyone that can be percieved as Flirting & wanting something more from that person I/you just hugged! Peace to all!

    • tryinghard
    • Tabs

      My H still doesn’t believe his “flirting” was wrong. He was in a PA while “flirting” with a another girl who is one year older than our daughter. It involved sexting and hidden conversations either on the phone or through skype. But what really pisses me off is the way he thinks his flirting was nothing compared to his PA. I’ll agree the PA pain and confusion. But both affairs hurt. My H also denies that he would ever have sex with the younger OW, but that sounds like “denial” talking. When I bring it up, he adamately states he would never sleep with her. She was just a friend. Does anybody remember the movie Princess Bride? Carol Kane screams LIER! Lier, Lier, Lier! at Billy Crystal. Well, that was me, pointing my finger at my H and screaming “LIER!” at the top of my lungs.

    • Rachel

      My ex was the king if flirting. I could vomit now just thinking how many times he would do it in front of me. So, what was going on when I wasn’t there???
      I would beg him to stop and he wouldn’t . He said he was just a friendly guy.
      The new gentleman that I am dating has never flirted in front of me and quite frankly I don’t think he is capable of doing so. It’s called RESPECT!!! and I love it!

      • Lynsey

        Rachel, I’m so happy that you found a true gentleman, and someone that respects you. I’ve followed your story…you deserve all the best.

        • Rachel

          Thank you, Lynsey

      • 2nd Time Around


        My husband is the same way he is a passive aggressive personality to they way is flirts is very subtle. I have asked the question many time if you do it in front of me what do you do when I am not around!!

        I have to admit that I am a flirt as well. But I know where the lines is and it is very clear. I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do not only in front of my own husband but the significant other of the other person if they have one.

        There is a big difference between harmless banter and flirting with a purpose!

    • theresa

      And here’s the thing. Two actually.
      One of the giveaways or tells, was a change in something, and there are many somethings.

      For example:

      Habits- appearance, work habits, attention to things outside of the home, “I’ve
      always been friendly to everyone. (NOT)
      Relationships- pulling away or over solicitousness, with you, children, family
      and friends
      new or changing attention to work environment…..
      His self awareness “you know me. I would/could never do that”, I’ve always been that
      way/done that…..
      he sees who he wants to be in the mirror. Not who he really is. He
      tries to fit himself into the picture he envisions to justify his
      acknowledged “different” behavior, opinions, lifestyle. He is now
      being true to himself

      And you’re not in his viewfinder.

      • antiskank

        Every time I think that I am the only one that is dealing with the ridiculous, I read the comments here and realize that it is rampant! Anyone who says that this is not an affair and is harmless is FREAKING CRAZY! I can attest to the life altering, crushing pain that pervades every moment of every day and destroys your very life!

        exercisegrace, your descriptions of how the fantasy builds in the affair are just so right!

        “If the person at work begins to be inserted into a fantasy of , then of course their actions/words meet ALL the needs of the cheating spouse who is writing the script in his mind. While the needs in this example might be valid, the timeline for getting them met is not. When the fantasy is run over and over, the person begins to take on traits they don’t really have. And the spouse always comes out the loser. Sadly, none of it is based on anything close to reality and the cheating spouse begins to interact with the potential affair partner at work based more on the “idea” of this person rather than the person they actually ARE.”

        Although he admits that all of his needs can and were being met at home, my CH always flirted with women and thought he had to be their hero. He would do little things for them, shower them with attention, compliment them, touch their hands of shoulders or hair…… This affair isn’t the first time he has built up extended fantasies about other women or the first time he has tried to get them to join him in his emotional involvement. This last one just played the game a little better and he was hooked!

        After 2 and a half LONG years, my CH is still fantasizing about his AP, even though she has no interest in him and it can never be! She has been proven to be a low class, sleazy, worthless slut with many of the traits and habits that he had always disliked in other people before she came along. He can’t let go of this perfect world and the idea of a perfect life that only gets better the more it is brought to mind. I know how crazy this sounds but I almost wish that they had carried it further, that their “relationship” had a chance to get outside the workplace, to enter the real world. Maybe then, he could get over her, once the fantasy was shattered. He still spends all of his time and energy on a figment of his imagination rather than returning to his marriage.

      • Rachel

        Or the gallon of cologne on him when he left for work.

    • theresa

      If the emails, texts, and any other form of communicating, were “innocent”, “fun”, “means nothing”, “just joking around”…..
      Turn it around. A little creative cut and paste, email, or text or whatever, the same fun stuff they say to each other, appears as an “innocent”, “fun”… contact from your good “friend”.

      • Tryinghard

        I think my husband would be relieved so he could say “aha look you did it too”. Alas that won’t ever happen for him.

        It’s so hard for them to even fathom the shoe on the other foot. Because they are lacking empathy. They are so full of themselves and their egos are so over inflated by the strokes from the OW, not to mention all the back pedaling and excuse making, turning the roles around is almost impossible.

        No you have to stand your ground and don’t let them believe for one minute that you don’t absolutely know for sure that it was an affair. No matter how much they try to spackle over it. Do not let them gaslight you. The one simple question is if it were so innocent why did you hide it?

        • Theresa

          I have a rant bubbling. And I’m trying to organize it a bit so I don’t sound like a complete nut. But I’d like to say this now.
          WHY?: For so many different things, but hiding it is one of my favorites.
          Is it ok to do something you know will cause your spouse pain?
          If you felt “unsatisfied” in your marriage, why not try to fix it within your

          I am married. During the formal ceremony we exchanged vows. We promised to love, honor, cherish, forsaking all others.
          I am a Catholic. We follow commandments given by God. There are two that come to mind; Thou shalt not commit adultery.
          Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

          I will assume that a ceremony to commit to another, will include similar points.
          I feel that to justify actions and behaviors that are not explicitly defined, is dishonorable, dishonest, selfish….

          So he accepts the lies he tells to himself.
          I do not accept the dishonesty, I do not accept his disregard for me.

          (I Still sound a little unhinged)

          . I am a Catholic.

    • Tryinghard

      LOL!!! No not unhinged. Moral, good values, faithful, reasonable. Of course we feel unhinged. its very frustrating to try to make sense from nonsense. Don’t try. Seriously you will start to think you are Alice in Wonderland!!

      I’m not catholic but I believe in all those things you said. It’s crazy but they are assholes. Selfish jerks. The have a grand sense of entitlement. Look you h wasn’t necessarily unhappy in the marriage so of course he didn’t think to look for help u til it was too late. They dabble in the affair for a while and it just goes too far. I think some are truly too stupid to know how to get out of the affair so it goes on. And NO I do not think they are victims, just really stupid. Really the most important questions are to yourself, why are you staying and NOT why he did that shit!!!

    • theresa

      I think I’ve worked through the why I stayed. The friends and partners of my children do not “love” the holidays, their memories are painful. Right down the lines, Thanksgiving is the favorite family holiday. Not the joy of stuff, just the joy of us.
      I stopped thinking about what if.
      But, I have started thinking of what’s next.

    • newheartnewstart

      UGh! My thanksgiving was so uncomfortable. I live in another state then my mom and family and had plans to drive home to see them for thanksgiving. Instead I was having to face my D-Day. Discovered my husband was having another EA with the same ex-girlfriend from not even 6-8 months ago. It was so painful for me, to even see my children would make me cry, I feel like my heart is literally broken. I had to stay home a coupe of days and more days when my little ones got sick. My paid time off was now almost empty after saving my time but I had to push my thanksgiving vacation to Christmas. On Thanksgiving I was just not in the mode, I was heart broken and I had to see my husband’s family go about their lives like there was nothing going on. No consequences for my husband just per happiness and koombyaah!! This was so disappointing to me I’ve already showed so much of how hurt and sadden I am but it’s nothing to talk about, not even how are you doing with all this? or I’m sorry your going through all this we are here for you! Especially my husband mom and aunt they just hold on to my husband like “oh his an angel!” UGH!! they think his emotional affair is nothing to fuss about and it should just be “written down burned in a fire and the smoke will carry it all away”………..I can’t get through to my husband’s mom and aunt that this is very serious this has hurt my family, my self worth, the way I look at my husband! Just because sex was not involved it was an AFFAIR! twice in the same year with the same ex-girlfriend. The first time my husband’s mom told me “it’s something southern that we all do”, “I don’t have to worry about her, my son is not like that, his a good man!” Well, he did it again and now I’m suppose to just not care about it and leave it be..So hurting me, and thinking so little of me is ok? I’m his wife the mother of our beautiful babies and I’m not going to devalue myself like that to act like nothing is wrong and keep it inside and just be stupidly happy. AM I the only one who thinks this is crappy and crazy all together?

    • Lynn


      So sorry. It’s pretty clear that your husband and his family don’t respect your boundaries in your marriage. Most importantly tho, is between you and your husband. I’m a little confused-are you still together? Living apart or or?

      Seems like it’s long past time to have a heart to heart w hubby. Also consider doing a 180.

      I can tell you that if my hubby started up w his OW again, it would be over between us….
      Or ANY OW for that matter.
      BTW he is so aware now of boundaries that he will tell me when another woman is flirty and what he did or said to deflect it. But, it has taken a lot of work , insight and commitment on his part. I hope you can get that from yours.

      • Lynn

        I meant to add-no consequences for him??? Bah! I am willing to bet that if the shoe were on the other foot, you would have a load of them, from he and his family!

        But the only one who can really give him consequences are YOU and GOD.

        Chin up !

        • newheartnewstart

          Thank you Lynn for your reply it’s my first time on this blog and expressing this to others who can help is so helpful. My husband and I are trying to piece things back together. I love my husband and he says that he loves me. It’s the whole I’m so sorry, I’ll never do it again, your the only one. But it’s hard to grip these words when he already used them not too long ago when he first got in contact with this OW. Its very upsetting to feel like there is no one here who cares enough to stand up for me, granted now my husband is on board with that but I don’t have any family my friends are also not here so I feel very much alone and the one friend I do have here has a life of her own. I have my daughters first birthday party next weekend and my husbands family is probably going to be the only one’s there I just get upset that they just overlook the issue, any conflict and never ever address it. It took my husband layers and layers of lies to finally tell me the truth the second time I’ve caught him with this same W. Bad enough as it is she works at the same company as I do, its a large school campus but she works a few buildings over. So, I’ve got to deal with this everywhere and I feel like my “family” here could just care less unless it’s their son (my husband) or their grandchildren, just feel so unwanted. I talk to my mom all the time she said she feels like I am reliving her foot steps which is not as bad as she’s had it but similar, my mom’s advise is to tell them that I’m not going to fight for them to accept me and that is ok with me because I am not going to devalue myself in thinking it’s ok to hurt me.

      • Theresa


        I have suggested these questions to help others to,navigate this black hole.
        Wish I would take my own advice. I can’t take that leap of faith. I’ve been burned too many times, I kept hoping that this time he is REALLY being honest, he was truly committed to our relationship. He has walked the walk, but as time passed, the effort to pretend got to be too much for him. Or, since I was in the hope mode, it lulled him (and me) into a false sense of security. My actions may be interpretted by him as if I’ve finally moved on. NOT!
        So I asked these questions of,myself. I was not always honest with myself. I kept finding reasons to quiet my gut.
        How did I know he was truly committed to our marriage?
        Did he just get better at avoiding detection?
        How long has he been making the effort this time?
        Have you heard from your gut recently?

        I pray for you this time is a new begging.

    • Lynn


      I know the pain all too well. Not to sound harsh but I would stop looking to his family for support. Sounds like their attitude re cheating is old school.

      Your husband needs to write a no contact letter to this chick. YOU need to mail it so that you are sure it gets mailed.
      He needs to be totally transparent w/you as far as where he is, who he is with. You need to be able to check his phone, emails, FB account, whatever.

      HE put himself in this boat, not you. So HE has some things to prove to you.

      • newheartnewstart

        I have made up my mind that I am no longer going to fight for my husband’s mother to accept me. If this happens again if my husband has another affair and I leave there will be nothing there with his mother that would change for me. I’m tired of acting like everything is peachy when it’s not.
        I can identify that all of this resembles a lot of what my own mother had to go through. My mom is a strong women she has gone to hell and back with my father. When I talk to my mom she tells me how she had to fight the very same fear, hurt and pain even tho my relationship with my husband has nothing ever to do with physical abuse like my mom’s marriage she says it’s the same emotional hurt and heartbreak no matter how you look at it. It was hidden in secret. My mom’s advise is that I’ll never get that support from my mother in-law because to her, her son is an angel. BUT if you (me) had an affair with another man then I would be the bad women.
        So, talking with my mom she has never had a good relationship with my dads side of the family because she chose not to. She wasn’t going to be good enough for then, fine. So, I am not going to worry about my mother in-law I am going to focus on my children and rebuilding my marriage.
        My husband hasn’t wrote a no contact letter/message to the OW. I message her and of course she too lied that she and my husband weren’t sneaking around and hiding there relationship for months but I saved the OW and my husband’s messages they had the first time I caught them and gathered what I had from this 2nd time that I’ve caught them and I wrote a long letter to the OW husband attached her conversations, her email replies to me and a screen shot of her picture from my husbands phone and I fedex it to her husband. Of course when he received them she finally messaged me about how sorry she was, everything is falling apart for her, it was wrong what she did and that my husband always loved me but wish I just knew it….I could just go into the whole story but this is a full blown affair no matter how I look at it, it hurts and I feel so unworthy. The OW works a few buildings down from where I do too, I see her from time to time and I just HATE her. To make matters worst my husband started talking to her in June and she found out she was pregnant in July, I found out about the affair in Oct. My husband swears it’s not his baby they never met up only talked on the phone, text and FB each other. My husband says that we both need to fight for our love and get it back, that hurts me because I was already on board with that from the first time and now this 2nd time around that’s even worst…I’ve got to try harder? I feel so lost and unwanted,

    • T

      What message is sent when a child witnesses dishonesty, immorality, unethical behavior?
      What are we teaching them when this kind of wrong behavior appears to have no repercussions, accountability. Indeed, this parent appears quite happy. The ap is nice.
      Would/should we expose our children to people of question behavior?
      Lying, cheating, selfishness, breaking promises are conditional. Don’t apply to certain people, situations.
      Isn’t it always wrong?

    • fooled


      I’m 43, my girlfriend is 44. We set shared expectations when we got together. We promised each other that we are not, and will not, be in contact with any Ex’s except the mother/father of our children. We both agreed that cheating was not in us. Her ex-boyfriend, who she maintained a friendship with after their breakup 2 years before I came into the picture, but had not been in contact for a couple of months before me. We have been together for 3 years, 4 months. About 6 months into the relationship, he contacted her, and they have maintained the secret friendship on and off our entire relationship. They have discussed our children’s blending issues (we don’t live together, but there’s still some blending that happens). It started because he leaned on her, but then she eventually leaned on him also. She texted with him, and helped him with his resume on my Birthday, just to describe a major sore-point. She also text with him before me in the morning and after me at night several times.

      Is this an emotional affair? She keeps saying it was just a friendship. But from what I know, its an affair because it was a betrayal and there was deceit, and she leaned on him.

      I really want to get over it. Even it means minimizing it. I can’t seem to forgive the 1100+ days of betrayal and deceit. She is a good person apart from this, though I have helped her recognize that she is fairly consistent liar, and uses forms of lying like “lying by ommission”.

      I need help.


      • Betrayed

        Fooled, yes she’s cheating by any definition, if someone is involved in an activity that requires them to lie or hide stuff, then they’re cheating. I’m so sorry this has happened to you again. It’s been many years now, what happened? Would love an update….

    • sandy

      please i need your help. My husband has had an affair that has gone on for twenty years. i didnt know until 3 years ago. i got sick and had to quit working due to heart problems caused by it, i cannot get disability i cant move out. i cant support myself. she comes in my house and takes things out of my house my husband lets her. he has had her in my house all the time and this man is a christian man. i am dumbfounded. i dont trust anything he says. she wants me to stay in the house and not talk to anyone cas he wont let me go out without consequences. and i can not buy food hardly. he is not allowed to hardly talk to me not to mention the cameras that i cant get too and he and her are telling everybody i am crazy. i also had horrific childhood abuse which i have horrific flashbacks still on top of all this. she and him are trying to push me out to live on the streets because i dont have anymoney and i am a burden and so uch more. i cant live on my own. please help i dont know what to do. he verbally denies it All. at first he told me bits and pieces now he is denying even that. like we go to the store and it shows how much money was spent well we only spent 300 this month and the next time i looked when we stopped to get something we had 800 dollrs. well she works at krogers and the bank and when he deposits a little in my account and i use it on something she doesnt like she goes in and spends money and i havehad to change my account twice. he wanted me to take my name off his account so she could destroy me. all kinds of stuff started to happen. please any advice when i cant leave and they both hate me

      • Shifting Impressions

        Your husband and his affair partner have gaslit you into believing you have no other options. How much have they restricted your freedom? Are you able to leave the house at all? You have legal rights. Do you fear for your immediate physical safety?

    • VictoriaLD

      You need services. Call 911 and tell them they aren’t letting you out of the house and to send the police. Tell them there are two women at your address and you’re in your room. I wish you the very best.

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