Did you catch your partner entertaining other romantic prospects, and now you’re wondering how to forgive emotional cheating?
Physical cheating is absolutely painful; there’s no denying that.
But there’s another type of cheating that is arguably more heartbreaking and traumatic – one that feels far more personal – emotional cheating.
Emotional cheating doesn’t just involve one poor decision since you can’t possibly develop an attachment with someone in mere hours.
This type of cheating takes days, weeks, months, or even years’ worth of interaction to progress.
Because it involves a bond, the connection doesn’t immediately go away after a few hours, which is usually the case with physical cheating.
One of the best ways to forgive someone for cheating is to express your feelings openly and let go of negative emotions like resentment.
In this article, we dive deep into how to forgive emotional cheating in a relationship. But first, let’s understand what this really means…
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL CHEATING?
Emotional cheating involves a betrayal of the rules people in a relationship set for themselves.
Developing a sustained bond with someone other than your spouse feels secret, wrong, or even dangerous.
EXAMPLES OF EMOTIONAL CHEATING
Still not sure what emotional cheating is? Here are some examples:
• Your partner is lying about how close they are to another person.
• Your partner is complaining about your relationship with someone else.
• Your partner connects with another person more after you face conflicts.
• Your partner has become intensely secretive about their texts, emails, and phone calls.
• Your partner gets too defensive and sensitive when asked about their relationship with another person.
• Your partner is sending inappropriate messages to another person.
• Your partner is deleting texts or call logs or hiding conversations in general from you.
• Your partner is going to another person to seek comfort and telling them things you don’t even know.
Keep in mind that there’s not a single point listed above that guarantees your partner is having an emotional affair.
However, if you notice that multiple items apply to your relationship, you may take it as a sign of emotional cheating.
SIGNS YOUR PARTNER IS EMOTIONALLY CHEATING ON YOU
Here are some signs of emotional cheating you need to look out for in your relationship:
#1 Your partner doesn’t want you to access their phone
Is your partner very protective of their phone or a certain social media app? That’s a telltale sign that they’re trying to hide something from you.
Around 17% of people have reportedly found someone to cheat with online according to recent studies.
#2 Your partner stops sleeping with you
If your partner turns down your advances in bed, they may be emotionally invested in someone else.
Research shows that roughly 34.6% of cheating women and 25.9% of cheating men did so due to boredom with their love life.
#3 You’re noticing “weird” credit card charges or expenses from your partner
Your partner may feel the need to buy gifts for their affair partner or even pay for their dinner. The average cost of affairs is a staggering $2,664.
#4 Your partner feels more detached from you
Dissociation can be a sign of an emotional affair, as your partner may feel less connected to you because they are connected to someone else.
#5 Your partner admitted to cheating in their past relationship
This is a huge red flag. If your partner admitted to cheating on their ex, there’s a high chance that they’ll cheat on you too.
People who have been unfaithful in a past relationship were three times more likely to repeat the same pattern in subsequent relationships.
#6 Your partner is spending a lot more time with a common friend
Pay attention to what your partner is doing with a certain friend, and if you see them spending a lot of time together, it might be a sign that something more is going on.
Studies show that about 43.7% of cheating women and 22.2% of cheating men cheat on their partners with someone they both know.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR PARTNER IS EMOTIONALLY CHEATING ON YOU
Around 35% of women and 45% of men admitted to having an emotional affair.
Despite this high statistic, it doesn’t make it any less hurtful. In fact, 56% of men stated they would be more upset if their women emotionally cheated on them.
And 73% of women said they would be angrier about emotional cheating than a physical affair.
So what should you do if you experience this?
For many people, their first move is to play “detective” and try to catch their partner in the act.
This can work, but such actions will most likely end in disaster and make both you and your partner feel miserable.
At this point, you’ve probably realized that your relationship is at stake, and you’re thinking of how to deal with emotional cheating.
If you truly feel committed to each other, get to the bottom of the issue and figure out what went wrong. To do this, start a dialogue with your partner about your relationship.
HOW TO FORGIVE EMOTIONAL CHEATING IN A RELATIONSHIP
It can be tough to forgive someone who cheated on you. However, forgiveness is a crucial part of moving forward in your relationship.
Here are some tips to forgive emotional cheating in your relationship.
1. Don’t rush into forgiving your partner
Emotional cheating is one of the most challenging types of cheating to forgive.
But there are no definitive time frames for you to forgive your partner. You can heal from this, but only if you give yourself time.
While it may be tempting to forgive your partner right away, you may want to give the issue some thought. It sounds cliché, but try to separate the person from the act.
A national survey of 1,500 Americans found that older and middle-aged individuals forgave more than young adults.
Surprisingly, researchers found a link between forgiving others and having positive health.
People over 45 years old experience improved life satisfaction and less psychological distress after forgiving those who have hurt them.
2. Try to look at things from their perspective
I’m not telling you to forgive the act of cheating and pretend as if it never happened.
However, just try to think of the events that may have led the love of your life to stray. For example, they may have felt unappreciated or neglected.
There are also cheating instances driven by an interest in specific intimate activities, solitary desire, longer relationship length, and low romantic love.
Although these do not justify the act of cheating, they will enable you to know their state of mind.
3. Express how you feel openly
Whether you want to watch chick flicks while eating ice cream, scream into a pillow, write in your journal, listen to sad songs, or cry to your best friend, express your hurt and sadness.
Burying your emotions will make it harder for you to forgive your partner.
It’s no easy feat to get rid of the image of your partner cheating, but it’s impossible to forgive if you continue holding on to the past.
Expressing your feelings is the only way for you to let go of all your pent-up emotions. Unfortunately, this is harder to do for men than for women.
While men experience the same level of emotions as women, some are inclined to channel these emotions into aggression or anger.
4. Let go of negative feelings like resentment
Resentment is normal, but you have to free yourself from it. You keep the hurt, anger, and sadness alive when you hold on to it.
We may not be able to completely forget the past, but we can learn to move on.
Around 15% of men and 30% of women cheat just to get even with their partners. Considering this, don’t let your resentment build up into a desire to get even.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to a family member, best friend, or therapist to help you heal.
5. Accept that the cheating is not your fault
This is one of the most self-destructive thoughts a victim of this can have.
Feeling like you are responsible for the cheating is self-destructive and will make it harder to forgive your partner.
Your partner is the one who cheated and broke their promise to you. They are the ones who violated your trust. You are not the one to blame here.
There is no need to forgive yourself. If your partner wants to make amends, they have to understand you didn’t do anything wrong.
It’s important to remind yourself that you’re not to blame. However, you can still forgive your partner.
76% of individuals who found out that their partner has a secret contact tried to work the relationship out.
6. Don’t bring it up in future fights
The last thing you want to do is to use your partner’s infidelity as a weapon in your next fight. This will only hurt you more in the long run.
When you’ve chosen to forgive your partner, you’re also letting go of their past mistake. Instead, use this as an opportunity to build your trust again.
This won’t be a walk in the park, but keep trying to work on it until you don’t find yourself second-guessing your partner anymore.
Roughly 7.5% of the couples who experienced infidelity worked out the problem and recovered trust again in their relationship.
7. Establish new relationship rules
In a 2021 survey by Health Testing Centers that involved 441 people, it was found that 47.5% of relationships affected by cheating enforced new relationship rules like sharing phone passwords to help minimize the chance of affairs.
With this in mind, consider making changes to your relationship after you forgive your partner.
Do you want to establish new rules to protect your relationship from future occurrences? You have every right to do so.
Boundaries in your relationship will give you the sense of safety you need to move forward.
But don’t try to turn your partner into a puppet. Simply come up with rules that you both can agree on.
Many people think forgiving someone makes you weak, but the opposite is true.
Forgiving someone for cheating on you requires courage and integrity. It means you’ve chosen to love again and believe your relationship has a future.
If you discover that you’re still holding on to negative emotions and find it difficult to forgive your partner’s infidelity, consider signing up for individual therapy.
About The Author
Sebastian Klein is the founder of RelationshipsAdvice.co. He loves writing insanely practical guides based on scientific studies to help couples and individuals create the relationship they want.
After a tough breakup, he started studying relationship dynamics to help people get from the “What should I do?” to “How to do it.” If you want to get in touch with him, visit his blog.