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You Could Be Emotionally Cheating On Your Partner And Not Know It

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Sometimes, even when you’re in a stable relationship, you might find yourself thinking a little bit too much about That Person. That Person might be a new friend of a friend, a coworker, or an ex you’ve decided to stay friends with. You may have never slept with That Person, or done anything beyond an ambiguously tender hug, but you still wonder: Is there something bigger brewing underneath the almost-daily texts and one-on-one happy hours?

Find out if your relationship might have signs of emotional infidelity:

1. You feel like you have to instinctively hide your texts from your partner.

If you get a message from That Person and your immediate movement is crouching over so your back is facing your partner, or turning away from them in bed, there’s something up. Wanting privacy is normal, but doing James Bond-level maneuvering to make sure they don’t see that this person just sent you five texts is a red flag.


2. You lose track of time talking to That Person.

You find yourself falling behind at work due to an endless game of emoji tennis over Gchat, and sometimes, if they text you while you’re with your partner, you get so absorbed that you don’t notice your actual bae has been silently staring at their brunch for 15 minutes now. You’re not one to get so tied to your phone, but when That Person’s involved, a lit-up phone screen might as well be a blaring siren.

3. You go a little out of your way to hang out with That Person.

It’s natural that when you start dating someone, spending time with all of your friends, as much as you want to see them, might require some extra effort and scheduling. But with That Person, you are eager to squeeze in a happy hour when you’re dead tired, or jump at the opportunity to make plans with them the moment your S.O. has to work late. You marvel at your newfound penchant for making plans, even if you really only make the effort for them.

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4. You never want to invite your S.O. when you’re hanging out with That Person.

If you do bring your partner along, you end up feeling like this time would’ve felt more meaningful without them. Of course, space in a relationship is vital for both parties, but if the idea of your boyfriend or girlfriend joining in makes you incredibly anxious, that’s a sign that you either can’t bring them anywhere (which is an entirely separate issue) or you just don’t want them getting in the way of your one-on-one time with That Person. Honestly, it’s a red flag either way.

5. You compare your partner to That Person, and sometimes you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

You’ll note the objectively smaller flaws in your partner (they’re shy around new people, they wear those jeans you don’t like so much) and fixate on how That Person is a stunning conversationalist with the best taste in pants you’ve ever seen. Airing out your problems in a relationship is obviously important, but if That Person is acting as a barometer for your partner, that’s deeply unfair to your partner.


6. You save special stories just for That Person and not your partner.

To an extent, That Person is now getting to know a side of you that you, for whatever reason, don’t want to share with the one you’re in an actual relationship with. Maybe this side of you that you only show them is the “real” you, but why wouldn’t you want your partner to know that side of you too?

7. You’ve wondered—more than once—what it would be like if you were both now single.

Occasionally, your mind will hop to an alternate scenario where you and your current partner are no longer dating, and That Person is also single and possibly romantically interested in you. Even if you don’t actively see yourselves “together,” you’ve definitely let yourself go there and think about that accidental, passionate drunken kiss. And with time, that image keeps resurfacing more and more often.


8. You spruce up a little (or a lot) before seeing them.

Hey, everyone wants to look their best when going out. But if you’re debating lipsticks for more than a minute each time you’re about to meet That Person, and you never do with your partner, there’s definitely something there. Any real anxiety about how you look around a purely platonic friend just goes to show that their opinion on your attractiveness matters, and you have to ask yourself: Why?

9. You bring up That Person a lot with your partner.

Whether it’s a funny anecdote, or a jab at That Person’s current fling, your S.O. hears their name a lot, though they might not even pick up on just how often you bring them up. But sometimes, you feel yourself wanting to censor yourself, because it’s 11 a.m., and you’ve already brought up three different stories about That Person.


10. You’ve sat a little too close to each other, and you totally worried about it.

That one time where you both sat at the bar and their knee brushed against yours, you immediately noticed and thought about it for the next 15 minutes. You find yourself analyzing the strength and length of hugs, how often they maintain eye contact, if their legs are turned toward you or away. It’s an endless, maddening mathematical equation of “are they hitting on you?” but what’s most confusing is that you’re not sure if you’d be upset if they were.

11. When you read the phrase "That Person," you definitely have someone in mind.

It’s worth exploring the possibility that you might have feelings for someone who isn’t your significant other, and try to figure out what to do next. Option one is distancing yourself from That Person, while working toward fixing your actual relationship. Option two is breaking up, because you might just not be happy in the relationship anymore and That Person is just filling the void you’re scared of facing by being alone for a while. Either way, if these sound like you, there’s a few routes you can take, but none of them involve juggling both people without their knowledge or consent. So pick one route, and bravely move forward.


Follow Julia on Twitter.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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