Surviving Emotional Affairs | Dealing With Your Feelings

If you are the victim of emotional affairs, you know intimately the inner struggle that you are faced with and the deep pain of the healing process.  Ultimately, time brings the truest healing, yet many people who are working toward surviving emotional affairs want to know if there is a quicker way to heal and put the pain behind them.  You may wonder how to move on from where you are or if what you are feeling is normal.

Having strong emotions in the wake of emotional cheating is entirely normal.  Emotional affairs are traumatic events.  Waves and deep pools of negative thoughts and haunting images as well as explosions of emotions are to be expected in such a situation.  The desire to get through the pain as rapidly as possible is equally as natural.

Though the emotions are normal, becoming completely entrenched in them can become abnormal.  If the emotions begin to overshadow everything else, they can prevent you from taking the necessary steps toward healing.  Your emotions could be keeping you from healing yourself as well as your relationship with your spouse.

There are two main emotions to confront when facing the aftermath of emotional affairs.  Once these emotions are recognized, they must be acknowledged and faced immediately in order to prevent them from blocking your ability to heal.


Who wouldn’t be experiencing jealousy from emotional affairs?  Of course this is a natural response.  Your partner went outside of your marriage to share intimacy with someone other than you.  Jealousy can also weaken self-esteem.  You may wonder what you are lacking or what the other person had that caused your spouse to choose emotional cheating.  Jealousy is a natural reaction to your spouse giving special time and attention to someone else that should have been shared with you. 


Your world has been shaken by your partner’s emotional cheating.  You may find that you are questioning and doubting just about everything.  Your trust in your spouse has been damaged, and things that you assumed or believed to be true do not seem that way anymore.  How do you know where to place your trust?  What is real?  What is illusion?  You have uncertainty about the truth of the past, about what is happening with your life now, and about what is going to happen to you in the future.

Allowing the emotions of jealousy and uncertainty to take control will cause additional suffering and is not beneficial in surviving emotional affairs.  However, ignoring them will not alleviate their effects either.  They will not just go away.  Whether you indulge in the emotions or try to ignore them, both of these strategies will only delay healing.  Replacing these two negative means of coping with the following positive strategies will allow you to open the door to healing.

Strategy One:  Draw a Line in the Sand

Reactions of jealousy can easily get out of hand in emotional affairs.  Negative thoughts and images can run rampant while you are awake and even while you sleep.  You may find that you are tempted to act in response to your feelings of jealousy.  You may have thoughts of finding someone with whom you can have your own emotional cheating and let your spouse experience how it feels.  You may think of other ways to hurt your partner such as giving the silent treatment for an extended period of time.

By accepting that jealousy is a natural reaction to the unnatural behavior of your spouse’s emotional cheating, you are taking the first step in coping.  Make preparations in advance and plan exactly how you will handle this emotion.  Know that it will not be easy.  Know that you will be thinking of retaliatory acts.  Draw your line in the sand by knowing that you will not act on any of them.  Feeling and doing are on two separate levels, and by making a conscious choice to keep it at the feeling level, you are empowering yourself and remaining in control.  Those who act on the negative emotion of jealousy make the emotional pain that much worse for themselves by adding the negative feelings of guilt as well as regret.

Strategy Two:  Talk With Someone About What You Are Going Through

For those who are experiencing the uncertainty that comes with emotional affairs, it helps to have someone with whom you can speak about your emotions.  By giving voice to the uncertainty and the jealousy you are experiencing, you are allowing yourself to alleviate some of that pain.  It was once said that happiness shared is doubled and pain shared is decreased by half.  Your pain may not decrease by half, but you most likely will feel that an amount of the burden has been lifted.

A note of caution here: choose carefully with whom you will share your pain.  Anyone who is too close to the emotional cheating such as family and friends may not be the best choice.  If your ultimate goal is to move beyond the pain and save your relationship, it will not be beneficial to have your friends and family, those who surround your marriage, harboring a grudge against your spouse for causing you anguish.  Consider instead someone such as a counselor or clergy person who can lend a compassionate yet unbiased ear. 

By recognizing and acknowledging the feelings of jealousy and uncertainty, you may be able to begin on the road toward not just survival but healing.  Using the strategies of drawing a line in the sand and talking with someone about your experience will allow you to implement positive means of coping with the natural emotions that surround emotional affairs.