My husband had an emotional affair. Then I was asked this question. It sparked this post. What if my husband had a “real affair”? Indicating that his emotional affair couldn’t possibly be as serious/hurtful/harmful as a physical one. Now this whole blog has been about my husbands emotional affair and the impact it’s had on us both, and I think y’all will agree that it’s been impactful.
But he didn’t have sex with her. He never crossed that line. It remained an emotional affair. That’s not to say, had I not found out when I did, that it wouldn’t have. They were sexting words to each other. He was masturbating over her. She was reciprocating that. They were saying I love you. It was a sliding pit really wasn’t it? He says he never planned to sleep with her, they never made arrangements. But lets face it. It was coming.
But. It didn’t actually happen.
Define Emotional Affair
Flirtationship … heads to emotional affair ville. I’m not going to go on about this too much because I’ve talked about it here and here but an emotional affair is where someone becomes emotionally involved with someone outside of their relationship. It usually starts with a friendship or colleagues becoming close and then crossing boundaries. Relate have a great explanation of it here. Affair recovery explain here the 9 signs you’re heading for an emotional affair.
Boundaries may not be as overt as saying I love you and talking about screwing in the back of her car. It can be subtle too. Being derogatory about their partners leads to an intimacy between you. You’re building a bond between you both. Speaking outside of “normal friendship hours”. Speaking A LOT. Texting. Emailing all the time. Feeling like you wouldn’t want your spouse to see. Emotional affairs grow in secrecy.
Other than my husband telling me a woman at work was going through a divorce and was upset at work one day, I barely knew she existed. I even sent him a link to a “how to help a divorcing friend” article we barely ever spoke about her. He was using his phone during family time though. She cut through every part of our lives. We couldn’t even go to the supermarket without him texting as he was wandering around.
I think it’s fairly obvious the line that wasn’t crossed. There was no physical intimacy beyond a hug celebrating a result he got at work. Don’t get me wrong I hate that she hugged him. I hate the idea of her hands touching him. It’s a hug though. There is a scale.
Is a Physical Affair Worse than an Emotional Affair?
Well, I’ll say now, I try not to play damage top trumps.
Get this betrayal trauma is trauma whether or not sex was involved. I had my first ever full blown panic attack on discovery day. I’ve suffered PTSD symptoms, severe anxiety, moderate clinical depression. I’ve experienced things that I’ve never experienced before despite being in some pretty shitty positions in the past. This was different. This was shocking.
Damage top trumps as I call it is this competition on who has it worse. We are all damaged. All suffering. Social media has made me value my husband more and his efforts to fix things because I see so many other people struggling out there with unfaithful spouses still in limerance, still not creating safety, still defensive. What it hasn’t done, this comparison, is made it easier.
I guess, would I still be here had he actually screwed her in the back of her car? Honestly? I think I would. I can only think that though because I don’t know. If you’d asked me a year ago if I thought I would be here now after everything we’ve been through I would have said hell no. Speculation probably doesn’t help anyone.
Pain is pain. You wouldn’t say one mass shooting was more painful for survivors than another because there were more shooters would you? If you would you’d be irrational and clutching at straws.
vomited in the street even though he didn’t sleep with her.
had a panic attack even though he didn’t sleep with her.
didn’t eat properly for months and lost 20 lbs even though he didn’t sleep with her.
needed therapy even though he didn’t sleep with her.
had anxiety for months even though he didn’t sleep with her.
couldn’t work even though he didn’t sleep with her.
cried every day for months and months and months.
You get the idea right?
I was still betrayed and still devastated by his behaviour. Sex would have made it harder, it’s another layer to the onion, but honestly I don’t believe it would have made it more painful.
In my eyes, instead of being in competition with other betrayed spouses’ over who has it worse, I’m more interested in empowering them.
Affair Recovery did a survey a while back and I want to share some of the statistics with you. We all know I’m a woman of science and I love this stuff.
- 74.66% of betrayed women identified the emotional aspect of the affair as being more difficult to deal with.
- Alternatively, only 55% of the betrayed men stated that the emotionality of it all was the hardest part.
The same study found behaviours associated with an emotional bond aren’t as readily identified with infidelity as are physical behaviours, HOWEVER, while both emotional and physical infidelities are devastating, research says it’s typically the emotional aspect of an affair that proves to be most difficult to overcome.
It’s not a competition. It never has been. We all got hurt. Unfaithful too. I hate to say it but the affair partner too. Betrayed Spouses be hurt. Let yourself feel it. Unfaithful Spouses make your hurt heal you. Affair partners: Learn something about yourself from it.