Emotional cheating, as opposed to physical cheating, involves turning to someone who is not your spouse or partner for emotional support. This typically begins as some form of friendship, but ultimately grows into something that is more threatening to the intimacy between you and your partner. While there are many different opinions surrounding the severity of emotional cheating, it is ultimately a personal decision for how to manage the consequences and begin the forgiveness process. While some partners agree that emotional cheating doesn’t compare to physical cheating, others believe that it is actually even more catastrophic and detrimental to a relationship. Regardless of which camp you are in, there are three initial steps that you can take if you are hoping to forgive someone for emotional cheating.
1. Talk about the bigger issues
If your partner found it necessary to seek out emotional support from a friend, colleague or acquaintance, there is probably a larger issue bubbling below the surface. Emotional cheating occurs when someone turns to an individual that is not their spouse or partner for support, guidance, or just emotional closeness during times of need. If your partner has recently emotionally cheated, and you are looking for ways to cope with the new distrust, consider getting deeper into the initial reasons they reached out for help in the first place. Are there emotional troubles, stressors, or major life events that may have caused this person to reach out for emotional support somewhere else? Is there a chance they are not comfortable speaking with you about the topic?
2. Be emotionally present when communicating
Emotional cheating tends to occur when one individual is in need of help and the other just may not be fully available or present to deal with the issues. Take a moment to consider this: have you made it clear to your partner that you are ready and willing to work through even the hardest of life’s challenges? Have you been particularly busy with work, kids, or friends? There may be a chance they simply don’t think you have the time to take on their burden. Carve out time to have open communication where both of you feel free and empowered to share things that may not be easy to talk about. If you are physically available to communicate make sure you are also emotionally available. This means, put down your phone, reduce distractions, and take a few moments each day to truly work through some of the things your partner may be struggling with.
3. Consider seeking a relationship coach
Emotional cheating may be a result of having traumatic past relationships, or simply not having a healthy foundation that you can build a meaningful relationship upon. There is no reason to blame yourself for emotional cheating, it may just be a consequence of unhealthy relationship patterns from the past. It is not always easy for individuals to break out of an unhealthy pattern, and even with the most open and honest communication, emotional cheating may have crossed a certain line that you just feel as if you cannot come back from. Relationship coaches are there as a neutral third party that can help you and your significant other to work through some of the harder moments in life. While there may be guilt, shame, or anger felt towards your partner for the emotional cheating, it is important to take healthy steps to make sure both of you can forgive each other in the long run. Consider reaching out to a certified relationship coach, such as Jessica Yaffa, for some advice as to how to navigate this confusing moment of life. Coaching sessions can be individualized, or done as a couple, and are targeted to help work through issues with self-worth, toxic patterns, and unhealthy communication tactics.