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10 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair

You say he’s just a friend but your actions say otherwise. Here are 10 tell-tale signs that your ‘friendship’ has crossed the line

He’s The One you go to when you are sad about something, and the first one you go to when you’re happy. He’s not your best friend or your boyfriend either. Most of the time, you wonder what to call him or how to refer to your relationship. Or is it an affair? 

You might be having an emotional affair. You’re not sleeping together, but you have feelings for each other. Consummating the relationship is just an uncrossed technicality. 

“When you start telling that person about your feelings, your thoughts—things you would normally tell your partner, that is the start,” says relationship coach Aileen Santos. “It is the intimacy in these kinds of conversations that differentiates it from a normal friendship.” 

Dr. Shirley Glass, a relationship expert, notes that women are more susceptible to having emotional affairs, which are often referred to as “affairs of the heart.” In her book Not Just Friends, Glass states that women long for the intimacy that emotional infidelity offers, and are often pushed by feelings of dissatisfaction with their marriage. Of course, there’s also the guilt factor. Women, according to Glass, feel guiltier about actually crossing the line to the bedroom (and) that affairs stay... emotional rather than physical.

Think you might be on the brink of having an emotional affair or giving in to one? Here are some signs: 

1. You compare your partner to the ‘other man’ and tell him about it. All those little irritants that you can’t stand about your spouse are brought under a magnifying glass when you think about your emotional affair. You compare your hubby to the almost-but-not quite boyfriend and wonder, “Why can’t my husband be more like you?” Sometimes, when you complain about the latest annoying thing your partner did, you voice out these questions. 

2. You start doing things as a twosome. Sure, you grab lunch with officemates and even a cup of coffee on certain occasions. But when you start doing those things as a couple and possibly even avoid the company of others, you’re looking for time to be alone with him—which is dangerous territory. “It was thrilling to be alone with him. I could feel the attraction between us that would just be diffused around others,” says Chloe, 30. She’s been in an emotional affair with Jonas, whom she calls her office-boyfriend. “Nothing’s happened. Basta, I like it better when we’re alone rather than with a group of friends.” 

3. You talk/contact each other outside of normal hours. You text each other in the morning that you’re on your way to work, and text each other again that you’re home already. Seriously, why would anyone outside of your partner and family need to know that? A flurry of text messages and emails flies between the two of you throughout the day (and evening).

4. You make more effort to dress up. Of course, you need to be presentable and polished at work. But are you buying outfits that are snugger and just a tad bit sexier than usual? You might even be buying new sexy underwear to put on under those clothes. You’re not dressing for work, you’re dressing for him. “Not that he’d ever have an occasion to see it,” says Chloe, defending her recent purchase of lingerie. “I just felt sexier around him and bought sexy underwear to match! Wala lang ’yun.” 

5. You find reasons to be with him and lie about it. You don’t really need to do another night of OT, but staying late at the office offers you “legit” time to be together. Your husband would never suspect a thing, and when he does, you have a ready list of other events/excuses up your sleeve to warrant a late night at the office. “I work in sales where odd hours are the norm. But even on days when I go home straight from a meeting, I find myself heading back to the office, hoping to catch ‘him’ there,” says Kathy, 24. 

6. You tell him things you don’t tell your partner. Your pending promotion at work, your spat with your sister, and your kid’s impending first day of school are stressing you out and giving you the jitters. But instead of telling your husband, you tell him. “I didn’t think of it as keeping secrets from my husband. I just thought it would be better to tell my office-husband John because he’ll get it more than my hubby ever will anyway,” shares Louella, a 31-year- old banker.

7. Others have begun to notice your “closeness.” Friends and colleagues have begun to notice your closeness and have given you a serving of both well-meaning advice and malicious innuendo. You give them the usual brush-off—“We’re just friends”—but are secretly pleased. Their observation validates the chemistry. You start to think it’s not all in your head. “My subordinate was getting too friendly with another member of the team. People told me about it, and I’d heard about it,” says Linda, a supervisor in a call center. “I had to call her attention to it. I spoke to her about the dangers of emotional adultery as her boss and as her friend. She didn’t listen at first, though. When the wife came to the office to file a complaint about moral conduct, well, it got messy for everyone in the team.” 

8. You fantasize about him.  And because of No. 7, you start to fantasize about the what-ifs: sana I wasn’t married, sana I’d met him before I met my husband. Be careful, wishful thinking can quickly turn into fantasizing about the possibility of kicking up the attraction. “I knew I had to cut my relationship—or whatever it’s called—with Jason when I caught myself wondering what it would be like to kiss him or cuddle up to him. I knew I was extremely vulnerable,” says Mitch, a 42-year-old entrepreneur. 

9. You ditch your friends to see him. Your best friend asks you to watch a movie with her and you say no. “I can see my best friend anytime,” says Alyanna. “I could only see Noel once in a while. So when it’s a toss-up between the two, I’d ditch my best friend in a heartbeat. She also makes for a good alibi.” 

10. You push the envelope with the touching. You look for reasons to touch him, like swatting his hand or thigh when he makes you laugh. You lean over too closely when looking over a document, your knees touch under the table during meetings. 

Emotional affairs often start with an innocuous friendship. And any psychologist will tell you that friendships with the opposite sex are not to be avoided. They add diversity, interest and different perspectives—just as any kind of friendship does. Things start to get murky when, fuelled by unhappiness and dissatisfaction in a current relationship, you start to want more from the friendship and have unrealistic expectations. Infidelity committed by the heart can be just as hurtful as a full-blown affair. Ask yourself if you’re willing to risk it and if it will be worth it. 

Risky Situations To Avoid

Harmless and innocent, they could become dangerous ground 

Sometimes it just takes a moment alone to spark a magical moment that will prompt you to ask yourself, “What if?” Here are some hotspots that ignite the imagination for the possibility of an emotional heart-rumble. 

Social media: Those likes on Facebook and the little photos and messages sent on Viber or WhatsApp can start to mean a lot when done with regularity. In today’s world, communicating via social media  is as good as talking face-to-face. Limit your interactions, especially if he’s the one initiating conversation. The sure way for him to get the message is when you do not reply. They call it “seen-zoned,” where your message has been seen by the recipient, but it does not merit a reply. He’ll get the (other) message you’re trying to send. 

Yosi breaks: When smokers get together, it’s like a banished lot coming together in a cramped fire escape or teeny corner. The setting in itself speaks of some kind of illicit activity you do on the sly. No wonder many conversations during yosi breaks developed into an emotional affair. 

Overtime: Even if you don’t have to work late, avoiding rush hour traffic means staying in the office after most people have clocked out at 5:30 p.m. The near empty office space and, for some, the long lonely night hours make a perfect backdrop for an office affair. If you need to do OT, make sure you’re working on something, not on someone. 

Hatid-pasabay: “My husband said he just gave her a ride to the bus stop—at first,” says Joanna. “Their office is miles away from the nearest bus stop and he felt sorry for her.” Those rides to the bus stop became longer when he discovered that her house was “on his way home.” The long ride home was filled with stories about common interests and work happenings that Joanna could not readily relate to. “When he began mentioning her more often in our conversations, I instinctively told him that he should stop this act of kindness.” It was not welcomed by her husband who felt that he was being doubted and Joanna was being irrationally jealous. “When she began sending him cutesy messages and bringing him food to thank him for being nice, he knew I was right.” 

This article was originally published in Working Mom August 2015 issue.