If your gut is telling you that something’s off, here are seven signs to look out for that might indicate she’s having an emotional affair
And the warning signs that she’s having one
When your partner shuts down, it can be hard to tell if what you’re dealing with is just a rough patch in your relationship—or if she’s hiding something from you. Maybe she’s being faithful physically, but what about emotionally?
Emotional affairs are much less defined than physical ones, which is why they’re so challenging to pinpoint, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
With developments as subtle as lingering glances, it’s hard to tell whether your partner is in an emotional affair—where they’ve established a connection that goes beyond friendship and has grown into something deeper.
If your gut is telling you that something’s off, here are seven signs to look out for that might indicate she’s having an emotional affair. If several apply, consider having a discussion to clear the air.
When a person is having an emotional affair that hasn’t yet turned physical, the frequency of sex with their partner can actually increase. That passion for the other man she desires is played out in the relationship she’s already in, says psychotherapist Ginnie Love, Ph.D. Of course, every woman is different—for some, when there’s an uptick in emotional intimacy with someone new, the level of sexual interest in her current partner takes a nosedive.
If your girlfriend is scoring attention and emotional support from someone else, she might stop discussing the intricacies of her life with you. We only have so much emotional energy to go around, says Love, and our attention tends to go where we are most drawn. Over time, this can also lead to physical detachment. If your partner is spending the time she previously spent with you on someone else, that is an immediate warning sign that needs to be addressed, adds Love.
In addition to pulling away, she may start praising the other guy’s new obsession and criticizing you—say, bashing your cooking skills or taste in movies, even though these aspects of your personality never seemed to bother her before. This is especially dangerous territory because she may be unconsciously sizing you up, says Love, comparing you to a fantasy version of the other person and idealizing what it might be like to be with him.
If she doesn’t text very often and is suddenly glued to her phone or spends more time browsing on social media than she used to, this is a behavioral change that might signify something’s up, says Love. And if she starts dodging details about who she’s keeping in touch with, this could be a subtle admission of guilt. On some level, she knows what she’s doing isn’t quite right and that you’d understandably feel jealous, so she avoids and evades, thinking that what you don’t know won’t hurt you, says Gail Saltz, M.D., psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different.
“We mention friends from time to time, but a constant name drop is disrespectful and inappropriate,” says Love. It’s basically an invitation for you to call her on it. And when you do, take note of her reaction. If she’s very defensive about their friendship, reiterates that there’s nothing going on between them multiple times, or is very forceful about wanting you to believe her, it might be time to take stock of her loyalty, says Saltz.
If you’re hearing new and surprising comments from her in response to disagreements you’ve been having for a long time, it could be a sign that she’s been sharing your relationship issues with another guy, and then absorbing his commentary on them. Chances are these are his responses when she tells him about fights the two of you have, and she’s taking them in and using them in your arguments, says Saltz.
Say you’re at a party with your girlfriend and her friend shows up. If your girlfriend immediately leaves you alone to tend to her male friend’s needs, that’s the big red flag. “If you start to feel like you’re not number one and that everything significant isn’t being shared with you first, you may not be on solid ground in your relationship,” says Greer.
If several of these signs do apply to your girlfriend and you can’t shake the feeling that something’s up, it’s better to be upfront about your concerns sooner rather than later.
“Bring it up by saying you feel your partner’s been distant, and that it has something to do with the closeness they’ve developed with another person,” says Saltz. “Be honest about wanting them to stop and reinvest in your relationship, discuss any problems, and rebuild your bond—but the emotional affair has to end first.”
Expressing your hurt and concern doesn’t mean you’re pointing fingers—it just means you care about what happens to your relationship and you’re willing to do the work.
The article 7 Signs Your Partner Might Be Having an Emotional Affair originally ran on WomensHealthMag.com.