Few relationship topics are as hotly debated as emotional cheating vs physical cheating. Proponents on both sides have equally compelling reasons for arguing the effects of both can be equally harmful and hurtful to the respective party. Being in a committed relationship requires a level of intimacy and trust that comes second only behind the bond we share with our children. All the same, it’s never easy to confront feelings of marital unhappiness, especially when intimacy is strained by factors neither of you are in control of. The growing demands of family life, work and finances can leave little room for kindling the romantic flames in a relationship.
Drifting slowly apart over time can lead some people in search of eHarmony.com. The growing indifference to sex and romance doesn’t happen overnight but gradually, like the change in seasons or the drift of continents. Only a vague premonition guides them to the profiles of eligible singles and other adventurous souls, but the driving force behind their curiosity is often rooted in a desperate need for passion and intimacy.
Coming to terms with neglected feelings when there are always other priorities to discuss takes backseat repeatedly in your daily routine, but the need for excitement, romance, and sexual intimacy are fundamental to a healthy relationship of any kind. Denying or repressing the desire for connection when you’re already in a committed relationship may feel like the right thing to do for any number of reasons – the kids, the mortgage, her poor health, yours, fear – but choosing infidelity will have far greater consequences.
Is emotional cheating vs physical cheating a choice between two evils? Is it better to fantasize about an affair than to actually act on it? Are you guilty of being unfaithful if you’ve only thought about it?
Infidelity is fundamentally an emotional decision. Whether you act on the emotion or engage in imaginary scenarios, you experience the thrill, excitement, and anticipation of an affair in different ways. One is visceral and takes time to process. The other is mental and allows you to safely explore your feelings while avoiding any immediate threat to your relationship. Fantasizing about your wife’s hot co-worker can be a passing, momentary experience that breaks up the monotony of your daily routine. It can even get you excited about your own wife.
Although you control how far the scenario develops, the setting, circumstances and every other aspect of your imaginary tryst, habitually daydreaming about other women when you’re in a committed relationship can lead to reckless behavior. There may come a point when the fantasy isn’t satisfying enough and you neglect your significant other for not measuring up to your idealized image. The impression we create of other people can easily be mistaken for an authentic representation. We fall in love with our own ‘creation’ and out of love with the vital connections already in our life. Emotional cheating can lead to a distorted view of your marriage, and unrealistic perceptions of the object of your desire.
Routinely fantasizing about other people when you’re in a monogamous relationship is a sure sign that something is missing in your relationship. Exploring your sexuality with other people is a necessary part of discovering who we are, but not everyone embarks wholeheartedly on the journey. Some warm up to the adventure many years into their adulthood, others dive in shortly after they reach puberty. After years of exclusively monogamous relationships, you may wake up one day and realize that you want to broaden your sexual horizons, or just curious about what else is out there.
People change. Our needs and our goals change, along with our priorities, our jobs, our relationships, and our perspective on life. How we choose to confront and cope with these changes defines our character. Physical cheating is far less subtle than emotional betrayal, but actions cannot be recalled or undone. There is a finality to the physical act of consummating your desire to cheat that far outweighs the effect of a wet dream. You may feel guilty about your erotic thoughts for someone else, but they are thoughts you can prevent from becoming actions.
Once you actually commit the act, your infidelity is no longer a hypothetical, but a fact of reality.
Even the most devoted couples face occasional tests to the strength of their bond in the form of temptations from coworkers, friends, and helpful neighbors. Traveling away from home frequently can put an extra strain on both partners and leave both feeling disconnected and drifting apart. Whether you’ve thought about cheating or you’ve been unfaithful, whether you’ve cheated or you’ve been cheated on, the road to infidelity is a slippery slope that usually starts at the well of harmless intentions. What might begin as a harmless crush can become an unhealthy fixation if unreasonably prolonged. Being faithful to your partner should extend to your actions as well as thoughts, your devotion in body and mind.
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