With the expansion of the digital world, cases of emotional infidelity seem to be on the rising as relationships have become artificial.
Today, in most cases it is observed that romance blooms and ends on the fingertips in a mobile or desktop screen.
This is a change through which the society has been going through since the last decade and a half.
We can neither call it as the new norm straight away nor can we discard it something abnormal!
Sanjukta (name changed), unlike many other women of her age, has two husbands!
One is with whom she is married for six years, and the second is the one with whom she has been spending nine hours a day, daily, for the last three years.
Being her co-worker, Sanjukta shares an obvious chemistry with Vicky (name changed) during her working hours.
First, it was mobile SMS, then Facebook chats and now WhatsApp messages- they have made a beeline of messages every morning.
They share in details each and everything about their lives.
The chats, over the years, have gone from friendlier to personal.
Sanjukta finds it easier to share more with Vicky than with her husband.
“I talk to him on a variety of topics- from my husband to my smallest of dreams,” says Sanjukta.
“My marriage is falling and I am unhappy with my marriage and Vicky knows it all,” she adds.
“At times, he understands my silence or the simplest of the one-liner. In the office, we hardly talk because of social norms,” she adds.
“Over the phone, we share a very little. All we share is through the numerous chats,” she adds further.
Can we say that Sanjukta was cheating on her husband?
“Probably yes”, says Dr Madhu Barua, a city-based psychiatrist.
“Studies across the world say that emotional affairs often end up on the bed. And if they don’t, then there is no question of infidelity,” she adds.
“But sharing your deepest feelings with a second person may be termed as emotional infidelity,” she added.
“Emotional infidelity is defined as when one partner goes outside the primary relationship to get his or her emotional needs met,” Barua continued.
“Sometimes the consequences are more damaging than one might actually think of,” Barua continued.
“One of my patients, after 9 years of his marriage, began to find his new office assistant attractive,” she added.
“Keeping his wife in the dark, he began to talk with this new girl,” Barua further said.
“Though the relationship was completely platonic when his wife came to know about it, she filed for a divorce,” she said.
“This had hit him hard and now he is under constant counselling and medication,” she added.
“The attachment to the second person always impacts your relationship with the first person and it ends painfully,” Dr Barua further informed.
The question that arises here is as to why do people get involved in emotional affairs, even after having a spouse?
In most cases, those who share an emotional affair, say that whatever they find at home is incomplete.
“No doubt, my husband loves me, and I do love him a lot. But still, there is something lacking, which keeps me dissatisfied,” said Rashmi.
The 38-year-old banker has been relentlessly chatting with a 28-year-old man, whom she met on Facebook, for the last six months.
“When I chat with him for an hour or so, I feel refreshed and energetic,” she added.
A 27-year old city-based journalist, under the condition of anonymity, said that what started as an emotional affair, finally ended with sexting.
“I met her on Facebook. She is from Dibrugarh and was already in a relationship for seven years,” he said.
“But as we talked on and on, things got deeper and deeper, and we started sexting,” he further said.
“But after her marriage she snapped all her ties with me,” he added.
“I do understand that it is all over. She is happily married and I am happy for her,” he concluded.
But don’t we share our feelings with our friends other than our beaus and spouses?
Does sharing feelings with a friend from the opposite gender mean we are emotionally infidel?
Maybe not, as experts across the world say that there are few signs that indicate emotional infidelity.
“If you spend a lot of emotional energy upon one person other than your partner, and share a lot of stuff that you don’t share with your partner then this is the first sign of emotional infidelity,” Dr Barua informed.
“Secondly if you love to dress up for the second person and you are more concerned about the comments of that person rather than your partner, then it is emotional infidelity,” added Barua
“The second person gradually makes a home in your heart and you find excuses to avoid your partner. That’s emotional infidelity,” Dr Barua said.
An emotional infidel will tend to hide from his/her partner about the presence of the other person.
“Moreover, if you are an emotional infidel then you will feel guilty if your partner sees you with the second person,” said Dr Barua.
“The last sign of emotional infidelity is- you are more dependent on the other person than your partner,” Dr Barua said convincingly.
“But like any other intoxication, one can get rid of emotional infidelity as well,” adds the doctor.
“If a person feels that he is cheating on his partner, then at once he must talk about it to his partner,” Dr Barua said.
“But before that, he should know the reasons for himself at which point he went emotionally infidel,” she added.
“The partner may or may not forgive him and he must be ready to face any consequences,” added the doctor.
“He should approach his partner delicately and must be careful the words he chose. Rest, he should not justify and impose,” concluded Dr Barua.
Affairs don’t always involve hotel rooms and sneaky sexual affairs.
Sometimes a phone call and an emotional weakness towards a second person end up in breaking the beauty of an established relationship.
The key is to understand the signs, talk it out with the partner and fix the broken edges before the crack reaches a point of no return.
With so many social networking sites and ‘hook-up’ apps, emotional infidelity, however, is gradually becoming the new common.
Let’s not getting into the morality of it, we must make an effort to stay loyal to our partners!