At some time, we have probably seen the memes circulating the internet about how "Facebook ruined my relationship," or "If you want to stay in a relationship, don't use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram..." But, why are these memes so popular? Could it be with the increase of social media platforms, texting, and increased internet usage overall, there has been an increase in cheating as well?
As a survivor of cheating, both physical and emotional, my answer would be yes. And while we are all aware of what goes into physical cheating, the signs of emotional cheating may be so well hidden, you yourself might be an emotional cheater and not even know it. Now, I want to make this point very clear. Emotional cheating wasn't "invented" by social media and cell phones. Emotional cheating was always a thing, it has just become easier to either pursue or unknowingly become involved in it due to these advances in technology.
It is sometimes difficult to determine what emotional cheating consists of. A Google search will provide many definitions, signs, and signals. I believe the simplest definition is this: Sharing emotional intimacy with someone other than your significant other, engaging in activities that exclude your partner because what you are doing would make them upset, and failure to disclose information about your relationship or activities to your significant other either because your spouse wouldn't approve or because you don't want to end the friendship with the other person.
At this point, it is worth mentioning that most emotional cheating relationships do not result in sex even though there may be some sexual attraction (not always), but there are almost always sexual innuendos or compliments that, for someone in a relationship, would be considered inappropriate. Usually, these relationships start out as friendships but eventually cross the line either emotionally or physically.
Some obvious signs that someone is emotionally cheating or that you have crossed the line is you're thinking about that person more than your partner, even to the point that when you're with your partner you're texting the other person. You begin changing your habits so that you have the privacy to communicate with your friend, this might mean staying out later than usual so that you can meet up or talk or even sleep in another room so you can text well into the morning hours without your spouse knowing.
You're spending more time texting with your friend than you are with your spouse and you start to see your conversations turn more flirty or sexual in nature: This is a huge warning sign. The conversation doesn't have to be overtly sexual, but you may be using your words to seduce mentally which is almost more intimate than engaging in sex. If you are constantly telling your friend how beautiful she is or how much you "love" her as a friend...Of course, then, you have crossed the line and a sexual relationship may not be far behind. You may also start "dumping" your spouse on date night or leaving your partner home alone a lot more than usual.
Other offenses that might occur are engaging in a new exciting activity that you have never done with your spouse but want to do with your friend. This might include trying a drug for the first time, even if your partner would be up for it, but you choose to do it with your friend. You might even plan short day trips or work meetings with your friend while your spouse is away or at work.
Of course, the most obvious sign of emotional cheating is that the cheater goes to great lengths not to disclose too much information. For example, he might tell you that he worked late which is true, but he doesn't tell you that his friend was there too. He has made up his mind that, for whatever reason, what he is doing with his friend is innocent and therefore none of your business. This leads to what is probably the most hurtful to the "victim", which is when it has been brought to the attention of your man that his behavior bothers you and he decides to continue because he doesn't see a problem with it, as if the fact that it bothers you shouldn't be enough.
If you believe you are the victim of cheating, even emotional cheating, you probably should trust your gut. What you should not do (if you might want to salvage the relationship) is go through your partner's phone or personal email. That is not cool on any level and though you might find what you suspected, it won't end well. Trust me on this. The adage, two wrongs don't make a right, can't get any truer than in this situation. You certainly can't fix one trust issue by piling another on top of it.
You can survive emotional cheating but just like with any relationship issue it takes time, building of trust, and the willingness to say I was wrong, I'm sorry, and the dedication to your partner to mean it and not do it again.