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Emotional cheating a prelude to sexual cheating

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Emotional cheating gets little respect in this social media frenzied age. However, most therapists continue to work with couples who are unraveling due to emotional cheating. Where do you draw the boundaries on what is cheating and what is not? Is sending someone a tweet every day so they become dependent on your tweet cheating? Is a text showing you with little clothes on cheating? What about if you are the first person to send a Facebook message every morning to wake your "friend" before their spouse awakens? Your message is always full of loving positive thoughts, while their spouse can barely manage a morning peck on the cheek. The more blurred the boundaries become, the more emotional cheating can exist, and lead to more intense intimacy.

No one can tell you exactly where to draw the line, but a line must be drawn between couples. Preferably, this line is drawn earlier rather than later. Emotional cheating has one variable that runs deep and every couple understands it. This one cord of truth is that when you are overstepping your emotional attachment to someone you don't want your spouse to know. The secrecy is the first real symptom. Once emotional cheating has taken place seeds of mistrust begin being planted, and the lack of trust is what eventually destroys the relationship. If you suspect emotional cheating in your relationship, there are things you can do right away to help minimize damage. Here is a list of behaviors that can help.

1. The first thing you must do is sever the emotional relationship. This means talking to the person face to face and telling them you have to stop, and you want to be left alone to work on your marriage or relationship.

2. Emotional attachments happen because couples expect to get all of their needs met with one person. This is naive and a myth. Take the focus you had on your friend and put it back on your partner, your friends and family. This will help lessen the intensity of the void you may feel after breaking up with your friend.

3. It's important for you to change your attitude toward your spouse. Behaviors follow thought, and nurturing your intimacy and time spent with your spouse will help refocus your marriage.

4. Share passwords with your spouse and shut off social media at a set time in the evening. If they can't contact you in secrecy, it will deflate the hold they had on you emotionally.

5. Fill the void of the emotional affair by taking up new hobbies or investing in yourself with classes or hobbies that will benefit you and your marriage.

6. Talking to your spouse about why the emotional cheating happened is so important to help resolve the past. This can be done with a counselor or between the two of you. Identifying why you turned to someone else, what was missing in the relationship with your partner, and how the two of you plan to avoid this ever happening again are extremely important to discuss.

A marriage takes two willing and engaged people to make it work. An emotional affair means that stronger boundaries are needed in the marriage, and more together time spent with each other. Emotional cheating doesn't have to end a marriage that both people are committed to saving.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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