When is it Emotional Infidelity?
When is it Emotional Infidelity?
When is it more than just a crush?
Every weekend in college, around 2 AM, I would send my best friend a text that read, “I’m in LOVE.” It became this ongoing gag. “Who does Zach have a crush on this week?” and “How long is this crush going to last?”
The answers were always the same: some random person and not that long. I bring this up to say that I get crushes often, and when I do, I crush hard. This is fabulous when I’m single because it gets me excited about meeting and dating new people, but it was not good when I was in a serious monogamous relationship with my now-ex.
I was constantly afraid that I was guilty of emotional infidelity. While I would never cheat on my partner with any of my crushes physically, I still felt guilty for daydreaming about them, and having them pop up in my mind during sex.
I was constantly asking myself, am I cheating on my partner emotionally? Have I crossed the threshold from harmless crush to emotional infidelity?
I’m now polyamorous, and one of the main reasons I became poly is because I can’t control my crushes, and I felt guilty about having these intense attractions to other guys. Being poly also allowed me to clearly think about my many monogamous relationships without being in one. While there are no clear-cut rules as to what constitutes emotional infidelity, here’s what I realized about that fine line.
It is emotional infidelity when:
You don’t trust yourself
You may delude yourself into thinking you wouldn’t cheat on your partner physically if the opportunity presented itself, but deep down, you know the truth. You always know the truth. Why else are you texting him drunk at 1 AM? If you don't trust yourself around someone, and you think that you would cheat with him in certain situations because your attraction to him is too strong, then I would consider it emotional infidelity, even if you haven’t done anything physically.
When you imagine them as a partner
We all imagine sleeping with other guys when we’re dating our boyfriends. We’re only human. It becomes problematic if you’re imagining yourself cuddling with him, instead of boning him. That’s how you know there’s an emotional component involved, and it’s more than lust. Do you want to go apple picking with him instead of your BF? Then there definitely might be some emotional infidelity going on.
When you’re using them as an escape
If you’re crushing hard on another guy, simply as a way to escape the relationship you’re in, this means that there are issues in your current relationship. Instead of addressing these issues, you’re avoiding them, and emotionally moving on to someone else. So before you accidentally find yourself on a path leading to emotional infidelity, I would try to redirect the focus back to your partner, and work on the issues in your relationship.
When you feel guilty
If you feel guilty that you did something, that’s honestly the biggest indicator. You know your partner better than anyone. If you know he’d be upset that you’re sexting another guy, and you’re doing it behind his back, then odds are, you’ll feel guilty. Now you may just like the attention and have no intention of doing anything with the guy you’re sexting. You may also not be the type of guy who would be mad at his partner for sexting someone else, but the reason why you feel guilty is because you’re breaking his trust. This broken trust, while it’s not the exact same as emotional infidelity, is in a way, cheating on your partner. That’s why you feel guilty. That’s why you should stop doing whatever it is that’s causing the guilt. Or conversely, talk to your partner about it.
When in doubt, be honest with yourself and your partner. Crushes happen. We’re all human, but don’t let a crush turn into something that can ruin your relationship.