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I am sure this topic has been discussed in depth many times before on TAM. But I’d like to drag a dead horse back up and beat it. So let’s have a discussion.

What qualifies as an EA to you, if anything?

I would like to discuss a couple main themes here, not to start a gender war but to touch upon the way women and men might view this topic differently; in what they are, how damaging they are, and whether you personally would tolerate a secretive and emotionally intimate relationship your spouse is having with an opposite gender person.

Would you tolerate the friendship with the opposite sex if you did know about it? When would that be considered an EA if so?

In an example, the man had what he admits as an EA. Met her online, talked for months in secret, met in person with the woman 8 different times and then says he cut her off when she started to flirt with him. He keeps his secrets until she drops her own bombshell and tells him she already knew about him cheating. Regardless of the suspect nature of these statements, assuming they are true for these intents and purposes, I absolutely believe (just as he admits) that he was in an EA.
 

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For me, an emotional affair would be any interaction with a person that would be hidden from your spouse. this includes real life, chatting, video calls, etc. I think I would also say talking about intimate things in your marriage with anyone other than your spouse or a professional (doctor/therapist) is a big no-no.
 

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For me an emotional affair is a make believe mythical thing, that doesn’t actually exist in reality.

To put it another way it can even be unrequited love, yet that still isn’t anything more than imagination.

Of which I worry about what people actually do in action. Since what they think is for the most part irrelevant, especially when their actions don’t actually match their thoughts.
 

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Hmm, I’d consider an EA to be where two people are starting to develop feelings for each other, sexting and basically carrying on as though they’re in a relationship, but they simply haven’t had sex, yet. All done behind their spouses’/partner’s backs.

To me, it might hurt me worse if my husband were to fall in love with another woman, even without the sex. A physical affair would be horrible too, but people can feel strongly about another person without sex.
 

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I think it’s any friendship where a person is confronted by a spouse about their discomfort, and the person engaging in the behaviour feels torn. If you’re feeling torn, the other relationship with the other person is a priority.

Seen it countless times. I’ve had men try to be friends, we both pick up on it and my husband talks about his discomfort. For me, it doesn’t even get that far, because I know before he does that said person is making my husband uncomfortable so there just isn’t that moment where I have to think or say, ‘oh but he’s so friendly, oh but he’s so nice, oh but why can’t we be friends, it’s not fair’.

An emotional affair starts at the point where you are worried about how the friend will react. You’re already seeking their approval. There might be no attraction whatsoever, not even emotional or physical. Not even an inkling or anything going further. But you’re already worried about upsetting them. It starts exactly there.

Don’t upset your spouse, just don’t. Why jump hoops for another person to argue the point at home, ‘it’s just a friend!’ You’re eventually going to HAVE to lean on that friend and expect a relationship and roof over your head eventually. Think 20 steps ahead, 20 years even before you even care that much about your friend, co-worker, work wife, high school friend.

Are they going to be there when you need nappies, cancer treatments, get sick, need a friend to support you at the ensuing divorce lawyer appointments?

Even if it’s not physical, never was and there’s no attraction beyond some bond?
 

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IMO, the ingredients of an emotional affair are secrecy, emotional connection and sexual attraction that hasn't been acted upon...yet.

Although I'd be a mess in either scenario, I think I would be more hurt if my husband had an emotional affair than a physical one. A physical affair I would think is only about sex. But an emotional affair involves feelings...feelings he should only have for me.

I don't think I would stay married to my husband if he had an emotional or physical affair. I'd probably still love him for life though.

Ugh, I hate even thinking and typing what if my husband betrayed me like that.
 

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Been there and almost had one.

Some years ago when my kids were young and my resentment was at its peak we had a woman in my office who used to coordinate the service engineers. She had only been at the company a short time and as the service team leader we had to converse a lot.

She was married but used to flirt with me a lot and we discussed our issues.

One day I was going to attend a security system issue at a well known lingerie shop and she said "I like there stuff, see if you can get some free samples and I will model them for you and gave me her sizes, this was said in a jokey manner but the underlying tone was obvious.

Tbh I was sorely tempted and it was probably only the fact that it was a work colleague stopped it going further, that and I had not cheated on my wife previously or since.

The eventually had an affair with one of the managers.

The first step into an EA/PA is the hardest.
 

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All good answers. I think secretiveness is the biggest sign. Discussing your marriage or your partner with the other person is also a bad sign. Or making comparisons in your head between partner and other person.
Of course the real sign is the internal "feels", but nobody can prove or disprove that.

I once found myself moving in that direction, with a woman online (in another context) that I had never met, and didnt know what she looked like. So physical attraction is not a prerequisite, believe it or not. In that case the "sharing" was just getting too much, and I was drifting towards making those "comparisons". If we'd met, and it turned out she was attractive, I might have been in trouble. So we never met, and the conversation got dialed back. This was many years ago, and to this day, I have no idea what she looked like.
 

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All good answers. I think secretiveness is the biggest sign.
I agree. Online has made it so these things can accelerate rapidly. If you're married and want to stay that way I'd advise ppl not to start up a friendship with the opposite sex unless you're gay. It might sound primitive but ppl are animals.
 

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For me an emotional affair is a make believe mythical thing, that doesn’t actually exist in reality.

To put it another way it can even be unrequited love, yet that still isn’t anything more than imagination.

Of which I worry about what people actually do in action. Since what they think is for the most part irrelevant, especially when their actions don’t actually match their thoughts.
Your stated reason for dismissing the existence of emotional affairs does not make sense. Specifically you state that “Of which I worry about what people actually do in action. Since what they think is for the most part irrelevant”. Having an emotional affair requires that the cheater take active action, just not physically sex. For example if the relationship between a spouse and an emotional affair partner develops to the point that the cheater spends more of each day texting, emailing, and talking to their affair partner than their spouse, and that these affair partners express feeling toward each other such as saying “I love you”, then the emotional affair is based on inappropriate actual action and not on imagination.
 

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I am sure this topic has been discussed in depth many times before on TAM. But I’d like to drag a dead horse back up and beat it. So let’s have a discussion.

What qualifies as an EA to you, if anything?

I would like to discuss a couple main themes here, not to start a gender war but to touch upon the way women and men might view this topic differently; in what they are, how damaging they are, and whether you personally would tolerate a secretive and emotionally intimate relationship your spouse is having with an opposite gender person.

Would you tolerate the friendship with the opposite sex if you did know about it? When would that be considered an EA if so?

In an example, the man had what he admits as an EA. Met her online, talked for months in secret, met in person with the woman 8 different times and then says he cut her off when she started to flirt with him. He keeps his secrets until she drops her own bombshell and tells him she already knew about him cheating. Regardless of the suspect nature of these statements, assuming they are true for these intents and purposes, I absolutely believe (just as he admits) that he was in an EA.
The minute, I mean the second, you either keep another relationship secret from your SO or minimize the depth of that relationship so as to NOT elicit further scrutiny from your SO, you’re cheating.

Pretty simple
 

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Emotions are internally formed, and driven; stronger, when they are externally validated.

What typical human does not like to be stroked by another of the opposite sex?

This makes EA's easy to fall into, and hard to extract oneself from.

Those who are lonely, those who feel abused of, find themselves, easily in an EA.

The heart is a hungry hunter, and logic is rarely its strong feature.

It is best to become single prior to forming a new relationship.

Hmm.
 

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To me, an EA is when you prefer the emotional attention and feelings created by connecting and communicating with another person over that which you get from your spouse. If you don't prefer it, then it's friendship, and I have no problems with friendships, even if they're close, as long as that preference boundary isn't crossed. In the OP's post, though, the clandestine nature of the "friendship" is a red flag, whether or not the boundary has been crossed (which is unclear).
 

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For me an emotional affair is a make believe mythical thing, that doesn’t actually exist in reality.

To put it another way it can even be unrequited love, yet that still isn’t anything more than imagination.

Of which I worry about what people actually do in action. Since what they think is for the most part irrelevant, especially when their actions don’t actually match their thoughts.
What would you call it when a spouse is secretly talking to someone via text and other apps, complaining about how crappy a spouse you are and how much they love the person they are talking to? They are always in a ****ty mood around you and can't wait to get some free time away from you so they can talk to their online "friend". They are also starting to have some sex talk and saying things like I was thinking of you while masturbating last night. What do you call this?
 
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