Emotional affairs are often considered just as damaging as physical cheating. Whether you hook up with someone outside of your monogamous relationship or not, if you have feelings for another person it can cause all sorts of hurt for your partner.
Here, eight women who had what they describe as emotional affairs explain what happened, whether they told their partner, and how they feel about it now.
"I imagined a relationship with a fake person."
"In a nutshell, it happened because I was unhappy about a few things in my relationship of three years. Instead of being mature and communicating to my partner the things that were bothering me, I started getting close to a former male coworker through texting. I started imagining a relationship with them where everything was perfect. All the things that bothered me about my partner didn't exist with this new guy. I was basically creating and imagining a fake person. I barely knew them. Spoiler alert: It wasn't all perfect, and I realized how much about my partner I was taking for granted. My former coworker was really just a fuckboy.
My partner took me back and forgave me, and we are still together. I fucked up pretty bad and I'm thankful everyday he took me back. Im sure people will say he shouldn't have though. We are happy now and have moved past it. I grew a lot through this experience. I realised no one is perfect and I also realised you don't just throw away a relationship when issues come up. You have to talk about them and try to work through it." [via]
"My stomach tingles when I hear the other guy."
"I recently got a crush on a coworker, like big hard crush with the desire to pursue it. At the same time, my partner had talked about opening our relationship. So since the crush wasn't going away like others did before, I told my partner about it, and he did a full 180 on opening the relationship. He freaked out and realised how much being monogamous with me meant to him. While for me, having feelings for someone else didn't remove anything from the feelings I already had for him, and I felt like we could have tried it. I told him I wouldn't pursue anything more than a work friendship with the other guy. But I’m still a bit frustrated and definitely need to work on my feelings. I hate that tingling in my stomach when I hear the other guy laughing." [via]
"It took years to rebuild the trust."
"I had a boyfriend who I thought was The One. We were so happy together and he was my best friend. I started a new job and became friends with one of my coworkers. We got really close and just had this connection I couldn't explain. Even though we had different values and beliefs, we just understood each other so well. I started to develop feelings for my coworker and I eventually told my boyfriend the truth. We tried to work things out for several months but it was too difficult. I made many selfish mistakes along the way. I lied about texting my coworker and hanging out with him.
Although I never did anything physical with him, I would still consider it cheating. Emotionally, I was attached to my coworker. It was really confusing having feelings for two different people, and I didn't know how to cope with it. Long story short, me and my boyfriend split up for about four months and during that time, I realized he was The One. I completely blocked my coworker and quit my job, even though it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Now, I'm married to my boyfriend and we are so happy together, but it took almost two years to rebuild that trust." [via]
"I married the person I had the emotional affair with."
"I was in a pretty toxic relationship for three years on and off. I had an emotional crush on one of my online friends who I never met, just because we shared the same sense of humor and always tagged each other in memes. During one of the breaks of the on and off relationship, I finally met up with Online Friend and we had immediate chemistry. Too much chemistry. I never told my (now ex) boyfriend because he was so jealous and violent—even though he had his suspicions that something was going on. Feelings for Online Friend were always on the back burner on low, just because my relationship demanded so much from me. I didn't realize how thinking, 'Online Friend would love this' or, 'Online Friend wouldn’t have said that' affected me until we broke up for good. It was actually a really really rough breakup but I am now married to and have a kid with Online Friend." [via]
"Every time I see his name my heart sinks."
"It has taken me a long time to admit, but I now recognize I emotionally cheated on an ex-boyfriend. The guy I was involved with had been a long time 'friend' I carried a very flirtatious dialogue with over several years (before I met the ex). Due to circumstance, he and I never had a chance to date. This left me a feeling empty, so I pursued other men like my ex to fill that space in my life. However, over the course of that relationship, I found myself checking out emotionally. Most of my energy was poured into long text conversations and late night calls with my friend. While the conversations weren't sexual in nature, I was betraying my partner by continuing to invest my time in that guy. The affair had a clearly negative impact on the relationship. When we went long distance, my boyfriend ended things and I think he also suspected me of cheating (physically).
Do I regret what I did? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Shortly after the breakup, I went totally no contact with my friend. After explaining why we couldn't talk any more, I unfriended and blocked him on all social media platforms and deleted his number/text history. Every once in a while, he will send a text or a friend request from a new account. I never respond, and every time I see his name, my heart sinks. All feelings of warmth and excitement that I used to feel for this guy are replaced by pure guilt. I never want to hurt another person like I did. It scares me to know that I have it in me to be such a chicken shit to someone who treated me as well as my ex did." [via]
"I still wake up thinking about him."
"I became emotionally involved with someone I was attracted to because of how smart and driven they were...while going through a rough patch with my partner. I lost a lot of sleep thinking about my feelings, and knowing how wrong it was for me to think about someone other than my partner while laying next to him every night. When he saw a text from my crush, he confronted me and I told him everything. He even spoke to my crush and asked if we had been physical—and he confirmed that we never had. I never contacted my crush again, and he never tried contacting me either.
I still wake up thinking about him sometimes. Long story short, my partner was not [able to] handle the situation. Instead, he called me degrading names and told me I would have to pay for 'what I did to him' for the rest of my life! I sucked it up for more than a year, but this last Valentine's Day, when I came home from work and the first thing that came out of his mouth was, 'Why do you have so much make up on? Who are you trying to look pretty for?' I realized I would be better off alone. I left this man and we are currently co-parenting. Best decision I have ever made!" [via]
"I felt so guilty that I was even attracted to someone else."
"When I was 19 and four years into my relationship, I developed a crush on a customer who was in the military. He lived in my neighborhood and we bonded over my interest in joining the military and jogging together. I thought he was cute at first, but I quickly became infatuated. I started doing everything a cheater does [minus] the physical stuff. I found out he was married and stopped talking to him. I thought it was so wrong and felt so guilty that I was even attracted to someone else, that I broke up with my boyfriend with no intention of pursuing anything with the other guy. I told my boyfriend the reason (as nicely as I could) and he ended up telling me that it was okay, it happens, and he deserves it because he cheated on me a few months earlier. He wanted to make things work, but I was too devastated and still infatuated with the other guy. Anyway, the dude ended up pursuing me while I was single and I ended up being his 'makeout mistress.' It was dumb and incredibly selfish on my part. Anyway, it fizzled out and I ended up getting back with my boyfriend after a year or so, then breaking up again after like two years for unrelated reasons." [via]
"It made my relationship better."
"There was a time I found another person attractive due to how drawn I was towards the way their mind worked and how intelligent they were. I'd never found two different people attractive in my life until that point, so it was a little hard to fight against it. However, being in a relationship, I really had to tell myself that it wasn't okay to feel that way because my future was with my partner, and I didn't want to ruin it. We also were experiencing some rough patches at the same time (hardly spent any time together, I felt more and more alone), so that also contributed to how the whole thing went the way it did. My relationship has actually gotten better since I opened up to my partner about it. There was a time he was really mad at me, felt deceived after I had told him, but he understood where I was coming from and decided to work on himself to help the relationship become more stable. I really respect him for that. I thought I was a terrible person, but I guess it happens to a lot of people. We are human after all." [via]
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.