Q: Is there such a thing as cheating without actually getting physical with the other person?
A: Absolutely! In fact, depending on what surveys or studies you read, a lot of couples actually engage in what is often called “emotional affairs.” These are affairs that do not involve physical intimacy but rather focus on one person leaning on another for emotional support. In my personal practice, I see more women engaging in emotional affairs while the men engage in more physical affairs.
Emotional affairs usually come about because one person in the relationship is not getting some fundamental need met in their current relationship. For example, one of the fundamental human desires (I call them FHD’s) we have is the feeling of “significance.” Significance, like it sounds, is where one person makes the other person feel special, puts them on the coveted pedestal, and basically does and says things that makes the other feel significant. Of course, every person gets their significance met differently but nonetheless it is a desire we all have in our relationships. As soon as one person fails to get their significance tank filled, they will gravitate to things or even other people that help them fill their tank.
Recently, I had a male friend in his late 30’s, married with two kids and he suspected his wife of cheating on him. He asked her point-blank and she denied it. After pulling her cell phone records, he found her exchanging over 30 text messages per day and having about ninety minutes a day talking to the same phone number. He presented this evidence and asked her to come clean. She again denied “anything was going on.” Turns out she was not being physically intimate with this person, who turned out to be another man and at the same time, for all of the readers out there in a relationship—how would you feel if your significant other was text messaging all day long to another person and speaking on the phone with them over an hour EVERY SINGLE DAY? Regardless of the physical intimacy, it would be natural for you to ask a lot of questions. Why doesn’t she text me that much a day? What are they talking about every day for ninety minutes? Why is he hiding this person from me? The questions go on-and-on, leaving you wallowing in uncertainty.
Lesson to be learned here is to ask your significant other about their specific desires and needs and do your absolute best to fulfill them as much as possible. When your personal desires are not getting met, have the courage and respect to express your feelings instead of turning to another.