Ways to Tell if You’re Having an Emotional Affair

emotional affair

Have you ever caught yourself wondering if he is more than a friend? You aren’t having sex with him, but you feel closer to him than other guy friends. If this sounds like one of your friendships with a man, you could be headed for an emotional affair.

Twenty percent of marriages suffer from emotional affairs. They are slippery slopes that may seem harmless, yet they do similar damage in a relationship like a physical affair. It’s important to protect your marriage and family from this destruction by knowing where the boundaries are.

Here are some indicators you are headed for an emotional affair:

You act differently when you are alone with him

Do you find yourself changing when you are one-on-one with him? Do you flirt, but think it’s harmless? This can be a dangerous pattern. It is better to keep your interactions consistent so you don’t send a confusing message.

You are keeping a secret

Have you erased text messages or left out details of your interactions with your friend? Do you fear your husband may get mad if he knew everything you talk about with this friend? As a therapist, my rule of thumb for clients is to ask themselves, “Would my husband be uncomfortable if he saw or heard my interactions with my friend?” If the answer is yes, stop now. Measuring your interactions this way can help you know if you are crossing the line. Here are some other ways to affair proof your marriage.

You share intimate details

Getting support from friends is normal, but it gets risky when you lean on a male friend and share intimate details that should be reserved for your husband. It’s a good idea to stay open with your husband. Don’t share information with your friend if you wouldn’t say it with your husband there.

Also, be sure not to complain about your husband to your male friend as it could quickly connect you in a way that leads to an emotional affair.

You fantasize about him

Do you find yourself dreaming about time with him? Is your mind preoccupied with him? Spending so much mental energy on your friend indicates that you are pretty emotionally involved. This is one of the 7 risk factors for having an affair.

You compare him with your partner

This is a dangerous sign. If you directly compare your friend to your husband, you are beginning to justify your actions to connect more with your friend. Doing this can quickly lead to a physical affair.

You long for more time

Do you find creative ways to connect with your friend to have a reason to see each other or talk? Doing this shows you are crossing the line.

You change your looks when you know you will see him

Do you make attempts to look your best when you know you will see your friend? If you are only friends, it shouldn’t matter.

He makes you feel something

Do you feel a rush of excitement when you see he has texted you? Do you feel more alive when you are with him? These addictive emotions can get confusing and leave you chasing to feel them more. Remember that just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good for you {Tweet This}.

You wouldn’t be okay with your husband doing it

It is also good to measure your behavior by asking how you would feel if your husband had a relationship like this with a female friend. If it makes you uncomfortable or jealous, it’s a good sign that you’re having an emotional affair.

You would feel upset if it ended

Does your heart hurt with the thought of this friendship ending? Of course, it is normal to be upset when a friendship ends, but if it feels like a breakup, this feeling can indicate an emotional affair.

It’s time to evaluate your friendships and see if any are leading to a destructive emotional affair.

What are some boundaries you can put in place to protect your marriage from an emotional affair?


  • Babiole

    Hello, great insight in this article! Some years ago I found I had feelings for someone who was not my husband, and what I did matches many of the points you underline: You act differently when you are alone with him > never be alone with him, and see and talk to him as little as possible. You fantasize about him > try to keep your thoughts in the right direction. You compare him with your partner > remember why your husband is great and you chose him in the first place. You long for more time > spend more time with your husband. Etc etc. Now I am free from this one-sided, emotional affair, but it was a real struggle to keep my heart faithful to my husband.

    • Renewed Horizon

      Thanks for sharing such great points and suggestions Babiole! Emotional Affairs can be such a slippery slope to get caught up into. It is such an encouragement to hear how God protected you from the heartache and pain that could have been caused for you and your family. Thanks for reading 🙂
      -Teri Claassen- Renewed Horizon Counseling

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  • Kevin Baird

    My wife started speaking to a new guy in her department, this led to an emotional attachment, texting him all the time but ignoring me, then the inevitable happened, a physical relationship started, this led to her walking away from the family home and moving in with him on the same day, i hate her for the upset she has caused, it really is killing me, but i have to get stronger and get happy again, it might take a while but i will do it.