Emotional cheating: Is it considered infidelity? What are the features of such a cheating?

Infidelity in romantic relationships was always there. But the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in such marital cheating and extra-marital affairs. Additionally, cases of cheating have also increased since dating apps came into existence. It has helped couples find love outside their marriages. Studies have revealed that men go for physical or sexual cheating whereas women are happy with emotional cheating. Let us take a closer look at these terms and the differences.

Gender differences in infidelity

Experts state that when it comes to extra-marital relationships, men are opportunistic, unlike women. Most men who cheat get into physical relations outside their marriage compared to women. For most women, this type of cheating is at an emotional level. Hence, even though in man such cases the emotional connection could be more intimate than the physical one, women do not want to put it into the cheating category.

Emotional cheating
Cheating physical (Source: Pinterest)

John Shepherd Lim is the chief wellbeing officer at a Singapore Counselling Center. He explains:

“When it comes to the differences in the way men and women cheat, as well as their motivations for cheating behavior, it is important to understand the differences in terms of what men and women value in sexual relationships.”

“Male sexual desires tend to be driven by physical rather than psychological factors, while women are attracted to and turned on by emotional intimacy and connection.”

Women seek higher levels of gratifications and want an element of romance, intimacy, and deeper connection in a relationship.

The main reason for cheating

But despite these differences in men and women, both try to seek physical or emotional intimacy, and when this is not available, their tendency to cheat increases.

And when they cheat, men want to keep their marital relationship to remain unaffected. But women want to move on and jump completely into the new relationship. This implies that men start secret extra-marital relationships but most women would want to end the marriage before they go onto the second relationship. This is what Dr. Annabelle Chow, a principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology states.

Emotional cheating
Emotional cheating (Source: Psychology Today)

Also, read here: No-fault divorce resurfaces in Singapore Parliament! It is a welcome step!

Hence, in Singapore when most women cheat, they have already ‘divorce’ on their To-Do list. This could also be due to the culture and mentality of most people in society. Society easily accepts unfaithful husbands and puts the blame on the wives. Wives who are financially dependent on their husbands for money keep mum over it. These women are also brainwashed since childhood into accepting the cheating of husbands.

Who are the partners in this cheating game?

Both sexes tend to start affairs outside their marriages with some person around them whom they know such as a close friend, colleague, or relative. These people are either in their social or professional circle. A UK stud (2015) also showed something similar. It revealed that 45% of cheating men had affairs with colleagues and 55% of cheating women had it with a friend.

Is emotional cheating also a form of infidelity?

Emotional cheating
Emotional cheating (Source: Pinterest)

In emotional cheating, a person likes another person and this attraction leads to a disruption in his or her own married life. It is considered a form of infidelity. So what are the warning signs of such cheating:

  1. The person cheating shares intimate details of self with another person and not his or her spouse.
  2. Desire to share more time with the other person and not with the spouse.
  3. Happier in the company of the other person and not the spouse.
  4. The difference in interaction with the other person when alone compared to when in a social circle.
  5. Keeping the communication with the other person (online, offline, or personal) secret from the spouse.
  6. Subconsciously comparing this new relationship with that with your spouse.

But in certain platonic relations too, one person may talk intimately with the second person. Hence, it might at times be difficult to differentiate the two. But if it is an emotional affair, it is non-physical and non-sexual and hence many consider it as not cheating.

Annabelle says:

“In many instances, women actually found emotional cheating more upsetting than physical cheating.”

There is a definite risk with such emotional cheating. It can hamper the current primary relationship and it runs the danger of turning into a physical relationship anytime soon. The multitude of dating apps and coronavirus pandemic has only made the chances of emotional cheating rise. Couples therapy and counseling can help overcome such cheating and prevent the marriage and trust from breaking down.