Emotional Cheating vs Friendship: Where Is the Line Crossed?

Ah, emotions… they’re pesky things. How can you tell whether it’s emotional cheating vs friendship you have going on? The lines can easily be blurred.

From time to time, we need a certain amount of emotional understanding that we don’t seem to get from our partner. Have you ever been in that type of situation? If you have, you might have wondered about the line between emotional cheating vs friendship. Is it blurrier then you originally thought?

Perhaps you feel like your partner simply doesn’t understand a situation you’re in. Maybe they’re distracted with a problem of their own, and you feel like your own needs are ignored. It happens. But how you deal with this situation is key in terms of whether your relationship will survive the turmoil or not.

One of the main outcomes in this situation is to turn to someone else.

[Read: 18 signs you’re having an emotional affair with a friend without realizing it]

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean turning to another person in a physical way and cheating on your partner sexually. Every single person on this planet of ours has a totally different definition of what cheating is. For me, kissing is a red line. For another person, that might be totally forgivable.

So, how can you tell whether it’s emotional cheating vs friendship when you or your partner turns to another person to get their emotional needs met?

[Read: The 10 bad things emotional cheating can do to you]

Emotional cheating vs friendship

Let’s break these terms down to really identify where the lines become blurred between emotional cheating vs friendship.

We all know what friendship is. It’s platonic. There is no romantic intention involved. You support one another and love each other almost like family, depending upon the quality of the friendship and how long you’ve known each other.

For instance, I have friends who are literally family to me. I also have friends who I’m not quite so close to. I call them all friends and I have no romantic intention towards any of them, which I’m sure they’ll be very relieved to hear!

We turn to our friends during times of need because our friends know us well and understand us. That means they can give us the help and support we need until we’re feeling strong enough to help ourselves. [Read: 15 qualities of a good friend that sets them apart]

So, what exactly is emotional cheating?

Again, everyone has their own definition, but it’s probably easier if I share mine. Compare in your own mind what you think.

To me, emotional cheating is when a partner turns to another person for their emotional needs, but they have other intentions. They may not know this at first, but they develop romantic feelings and the connection goes a little beyond friendship, e.g. they start meeting up at odd times, they’re always talking on social media. Perhaps the partner divulges secrets about their relationship which they really shouldn’t be talking about with anyone else but their partner. [Read: 12 hints of emotional infidelity that can lead you to a real affair]

To me, when a need develops, that’s when the line has been crossed.

When you need to speak to that person, when you can’t wait to see them, when you get butterflies as they walk into the room.

That’s when you’re in trouble. And that’s when you’ve crossed the line from friendship into emotional cheating.

Of course, you’re not cheating physically; you might never kiss, you might never sleep together, you might never even hold each other for a second longer than necessary. But it doesn’t matter – emotional cheating is often harder to overcome than physical cheating because of the feelings that are involved and their depth.

[Read: Emotional dependency: Are you overly dependent emotionally on someone else?]

Stop and evaluate your actions

If you’re in this situation and wondering whether you’ve crossed the line, think carefully. The fact you’re considering emotional cheating vs friendship in your mind means that you know something has gone a little further than it should have.

Of course, it could be that you suspect your partner may be cheating on you in this way because they’ve become close to someone else. Emotional cheating vs friendship doesn’t always mean that the person is cheating, it doesn’t always have to mean that cheating is the winner in this boxing bout. Sometimes it is genuine friendship. Simply, a conversation between partners will fix the growing rift.

So, how should you deal with it?

Think carefully about your relationship and what it means to you. If you’re growing close to another person, ask yourself a few hard questions and weigh the emotional cheating vs friendship shift. Evaluate it carefully. Decide which side of the line you’re on. If you feel like you’ve crossed a friendship line, it’s time to either take a break with your partner and work on how you feel, or take a step back from your friend and figure out the problem in your original relationship.

You cannot and should not have both in your life. [Read: How to see two people and know if they’re having an emotional affair]

If you’re on the other side of the situation and think your partner has grown a little too close to someone they claim to be friends with, tread carefully. It’s never a good idea to start throwing threats around because if your partner is starting to grow close to this other person, you might push them even further in that direction.

Work on your relationship. Consider what is wrong and what you can change. Talk to your partner and reignite the spark. If that doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to sit down and really address the issue. Explain how you’ve grown suspicious of their connection with the other person and that it makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

It’s never a good idea to accuse them of anything. It’s not a good idea to do this too soon, but if all else fails, what do you have to lose?

Literally nothing. At this point, it’s rescue or walk away.

[Read: Feeling tired of your relationship? Here’s why it happens and how to fix it]

How would you feel if it was the other way around?

A friendship never has a feeling of butterflies attached to it. It’s not normal to suddenly experience a rush of adrenaline and butterflies when your friend walks into the room. If you experience that, it’s not friendship… it’s something else. Perhaps that’s the biggest pointer towards your connection having gone a little too far.

At the end of the day, friendship is something we should cherish, and it helps us through hard times. It’s not wrong to turn to friends when you’re struggling in your relationship. Sometimes an outside perspective can be all it takes to help you solve the issue. However, when you’re reaching out to someone else to get your emotional needs met and rely upon that person as a result, you really should sit down and work out whether you’re crossing major red lines. [Read: Why are affairs so hard to end? The secret reasons for the addiction]

The best measure? Ask yourself how you would feel if the boot was on the other foot. If your partner was close to someone else in the same way, would it make you feel uncomfortable? Would you have a problem with it?

If the answer is yes, you’ve already strayed far beyond the lines of your relationship. Stop before things worsen. If what you’re doing would make you uncomfortable if the situation was reversed, you know it’s wrong. In that case, why are you putting your partner through it?

[Read: Do emotional affairs ever stop? Here’s how to break the connection]

Emotional cheating vs friendship can be a difficult debate. We all turn to friends for support, but when that support becomes a little too much, it’s time to question what you’re doing and why. 

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