There is a popular duel between emotional cheating vs. friendship. Some people think there isn’t a line between these two, and there are some who believe there is a line that can be crossed very easily. On the other hand, there are those who think these two have nothing in common.
What group of people do you belong to? Do you think there is or should be a line between emotional affairs and friendship?
Well, if you think there is a firm line between these two and some key differences, then welcome to the club. Below, I’ve compiled the most obvious differences between emotional cheating and friendship, and it should help you figure out when the line is being crossed.
Emotional Cheating Vs. Friendship: 9 Crucial Differences
As I said in the introduction, there are some very important differences between emotional cheating and friendship. And below, you’ll find the key ones that can help you differentiate one from the other.
1. Spending 24/7 texting Vs. Getting in touch regularly
Friends should be in contact and communicate regularly, but it’s very awkward if they’re in contact 24/7. You probably don’t communicate so much with your partner, and you definitely shouldn’t with your friend.
Send them a text message, get in touch via social media, and hang out with them often, but you shouldn’t spend more time with them than you do with your SO. It means you’re making them a priority, and your partner has every right to interpret it in the wrong way.
2. Making one another’s well-being a priority Vs. Caring for each other
It’s perfectly normal for friends to care for each other because they love one another in a truly special way.
However, it’s not common for someone to make their friend’s well-being a priority over their loved one’s. It would show that the love they feel for their friend is deeper and way stronger than the love they carry for their significant other.
3. Physical attraction Vs. Feeling drawn to a person
You can feel drawn to your friend because of the things you have in common, similar perspectives, beliefs, and other things. However, if you feel physical attraction towards a friend of the opposite sex, it’s clear you don’t consider them just a friend.
There are so many reasons why people cheat. However, being physically attracted and feeling sexual chemistry with another person are some of the most common.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to resist the intense chemistry and passion that exists between two people. However, there are some rules and boundaries that need to be respected. Break up with your partner, and then you’re allowed to do whatever you want with another person.
4. Strong romantic feelings Vs. Strong, friendly love
You can love your friend and your partner at the same time because those two kinds of love are completely different. Yes, you care for both of them deeply and want them in your life equally, but the love you feel for your partner is simply more intense.
You want to be with them all the time, you daydream about them, and you can barely hold yourself back when they’re around.
If you feel that way about your friend, it’s a potential red flag that you’re developing romantic feelings for them. You can try to hide it, but sooner or later, your feelings will come to the surface, and if you get the same feedback from your friend, you’ll indulge in an emotional affair with them.
5. Sharing intimate details Vs. Sharing basic details:
You share secrets with your best friends and basic info from your life with your co-workers, but you should only share intimate details with your significant other.
If you start sharing intimate details with your friend, it’s the first red flag you’re slowly crossing the line. That kind of talk will take your connection to a whole new level, and the relationship you two have will definitely change.
6. Intense sexual tension Vs. Relaxed, friendly atmosphere
The atmosphere between two friends should always be relaxed because they should always know exactly where they stand in that relationship. If they start developing feelings for each other or feel attracted to one another, that atmosphere will become intense.
Friends don’t feel sexual chemistry or tension towards one another. If they do, it’s because they’re more than friends but are still afraid to admit it to one another.
7. Strong emotional attachment Vs. Healthy emotional connection
Best friends talk about everything and feel comfortable opening up to each other. That’s how a healthy emotional connection is established between them.
However, if they start feeling emotionally attached to one another, it’s a sign they’ve also started developing deep feelings for each other.
A healthy level of emotional attachment can be part of a committed relationship, but it’s not healthy if friends become too attached to one another. Well, it’s not that it’s toxic, but it’s a sign the friendship is evolving into a different kind of relationship.
8. Keeping the friendship a secret Vs. The friendship being public
If the relationship between you and your friend is purely friendship-based, then you have no need to hide it from your partner. If you’re hiding it, on the other hand, that means you have a reason to hide it, and your friend isn’t just a friend.
Some people choose to hide their friendship if their partner feels jealous of their friend, but that’s also wrong. In that case, you should talk to your partner and make them believe it’s just a friendship and nothing more.
9. Sexual infidelity Vs. Keeping things purely platonic
I think I don’t even need to explain this one. In friendship, the only physical touch between friends is a hug or a kiss on the cheek, and that is all.
If you cross that line and do something more intimate, you’ve indulged in sexual infidelity. Your friendship will be either lost or upgraded to something more, and that will definitely be the end of your relationship.
How To Not Cross The Line Between Friendship And An Emotional Affair
If you ever start feeling like you’re about to cross the line between friendship and emotional infidelity or want to make sure you never find yourself in such a position, here is what you need to do:
1. Protect your relationship
If it’s a serious, committed relationship, you need to protect it and keep it safe. If you notice that your friend is meddling in it and overstepping boundaries, you should talk to them about it and put them in their place.
You should never be put in a situation where you have to choose between a romantic partner and a friend, but if it comes to it, you should listen to your heart and choose the side your heart is rooting for.
2. Be a good friend
You also need to protect your friendship. If there is nothing but clear, friendly feelings between you and your friend, and your partner is still jealous, you should talk to them and let them know how important that friendship is to you and that you won’t end it just because they feel insecure.
You shouldn’t leave or betray your friend as soon as you engage in a romantic relationship with someone else. That would only make you a terrible and false friend.
3. Set boundaries and make sure they’re being respected
You need to set boundaries both in your relationship and your friendship. Of course, you should encourage your friend and partner to do the same.
Those boundaries need to be respected in both relationships, and that’s how you’ll make sure you don’t cross the line. If there are no boundaries, or you overstep them easily, that line between friendship and an emotional affair will be crossed easily.
4. Talk to your partner
Communication is the foundation of every healthy relationship. You need to open up to your partner about your feelings regularly, and they need to know how you feel at every moment and vice versa.
If you sense some kind of emotional energy between you and your friend, you should admit it to your partner. They definitely have the right to know if you’ve stopped loving them.
In most cases, partners are the last ones to find out about their SO’s emotional infidelity. And it’s so wrong and unfair, and it can really leave awful consequences on their emotional and mental health.
5. Never let anyone interfere with your relationship
It’s okay to talk to your best friends about your relationship and seek advice from them from time to time. However, it’s not okay to let them make decisions for you or meddle in your relationship.
There are some things that need to be and stay between your partner and you. If you give your friends too much influence over your relationship, it’ll bother your partner and damage your relationship more than you know.
6. Acknowledge your emotions properly
You need to be in touch with your inner self all the time. Don’t lose track of your emotions because that’s exactly how you cross the line.
If at any moment, you notice that your feelings towards your friend and significant other have changed, you need to let them know. Don’t be afraid to break up your relationship or friendship because stringing someone along will hurt that person more than a breakup would.
Can You Emotionally Cheat With Friends?
It’s possible, and it happens mostly when someone crosses the line from friendship to an emotional/physical affair.
If you start spending more time with a friend than you do with your significant other, it’s possible that you’ve developed stronger feelings for your friend than you have for your partner. That’s why it’s important to get your priorities straight in life.
You can have close friends, but they can never be more important than your romantic partner. Just as your SO shouldn’t be a priority over your family.
If you notice that your friendship is becoming inappropriate in any way, if you see the red flags that it’s evolving into an emotional affair, you should break it off ASAP. Otherwise, you may risk losing both your friend and your significant other.
What Are The Signs Of Emotional Cheating?
Sometimes, it’s very hard to tell if a person is emotionally cheating. This is because it can be very hard to tell emotional infidelity apart from a close friendship.
However, the first and most obvious sign of emotional cheating is when a person builds an emotional attachment with another person. They start spending too much time together, their emotional connection becomes very deep, and they become each other’s fav people.
They even start sharing intimate details from their lives, which only strengthens their emotional bond even more. Taking care of each other’s emotional needs and providing unlimited emotional support can also be considered warning signs of emotional infidelity.
The two very soon forget about their primary relationships and become more invested in their friendship than their romantic relationships. They become distant toward their partners, which harms their connection, and very soon, their relationship comes to an end.
What Is An Inappropriate Friendship?
Friends with benefits, platonic friendship, and any kind of friendship that involves too much physical and emotional intimacy are considered inappropriate. This is especially true if one party is already involved in a romantic relationship with another person.
Friendship is a close relationship between two people who care, trust, respect, and love one another. Sure, this definition is very similar to the one for romantic relationships, except there is a huge difference.
A romantic relationship is also a sexual relationship, and physical intimacy is never part of a friendship. Friends can build an emotional connection through sharing secrets and opening up to one another, but that’s all.
If there is any kind of sexual tension between friends, that friendship isn’t healthy. They should consider either ending their friendship or turning it into a real relationship.
Even though the line between emotional cheating vs. friendship is a thin one, it still exists, and it’s still there. All couples are allowed to build emotional connections with people outside their romantic relationship. However, there need to be some boundaries.
If a friendship starts turning into an emotional affair, it should be ended ASAP. If you allow yourself to cross that line, you’ll engage in emotional infidelity.
That way, you’ll feel bad, and you’ll also hurt your significant other. Emotional intimacy is welcomed into a close friendship. However, physical intimacy isn’t and can never be part of a friendly relationship.
Please remember this and always respect the boundaries! When three people are entangled in a relationship, one will always end up with a broken heart.