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Emotional cheating (spouse)

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What would you do?  4 months ago, I observe spouse always texting / smiling while on his phone (constantly, all hours). Over his shoulder, I saw the name of a woman he was texting. While in another room, his phone would ping, and her name often popped up (his phone is password protected, so I only can see preview).

Naturally, I googled her name and found an attractive, successful women, she lives in a different country, but is in his niche field of professional work. They've been to conferences together, she often retweets his posts....Last straw happened when we were on holiday, during dinner, I saw that he was still texting (her) throughout entire day. I asked him "you're incessantly texting this woman, who is she, I saw her name, it really upsets me....." And he says, oh we're just friends in same area of work, she also follows this (sport) that I follow, I would never cheat on you behind your back...Then I say, that to me, they have an excessive "texting relationship" then I explain that "emotional cheating without sex, is actually still cheating - to me and to many professionals" (he seems to mainly define cheating as having sex with someone). He said he would tell her it bothers me.

Fast forward a few months, they are still in contact online and via Twitter, and I have gut feeling they are still texting often, he is soon going to a conference in her city. He said she is divorced. What can I do??? I feel like I'm being totally duped, but he denies anything.  I cannot prove anything without access to his texts.

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Posted (edited)

Wow......that is a tough spot to be in......I have never experienced this, so my advice is limited.......Have you sat down and had a serious talk with him about it?.......I know you said you told him it bothers you........If I were you, I would have a talk with him, and tell him it is really affecting you emotionally, and would he please consider stopping it, for the good of the relationship.

The problem here is that you cannot prove anything, like you said in your post......I know you are worried about him going to a conference in her city, and that she is divorced.

Do you still have a therapist that you see regularly?.......If so, I would recommend talking to your therapist about it, and see what suggestions they might have......Hopefully someone else that might have actually experienced this will respond.

25 minutes ago, Blahblah said:

  Fast forward a few months, they are still in contact online and via Twitter, and I have gut feeling they are still texting often, he is soon going to a conference in her city. He said she is divorced. What can I do??? I feel like I'm being totally duped, but he denies anything.  I cannot prove anything without access to his texts.

 

Edited by CrazyRedhead

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speaking from personal experience, and this is just advice (and opinion) as we don't have any intimate knowledge of you/your spouse and this situation:

if your spouse cannot sit down for a serious discussion and answer all your questions about texting/tweeting and this colleague, then something is going on. if there is nothing to hide then why not show at least some of the texts/tweets? why not even introduce the two of you? if the partnership both of you have built is shaking because of this, it needs addressing until everyone is satisfied.

what to do? there wasn't much we could do when we were in this situation either, except express our dismay and anger. we did look at ways to separate ourselves physically/financially too; because sometimes one has to do the painful thing to protect oneself. ultimately this sort of behavior is a symptom of something deeper that needs addressing within the relationship; not casting blame on any one person: it takes two to make a good partnership and two to make a mediocre or horrible one as well. 

you can encourage your spouse to be open with you in a kind and gentle way; signal a truce on any divisive issues, clearing (as much as you can for your part) a way for honest conversation. listen without judgement and try to keep a handle on intense emotions; that will go a long way to give a safe space for both of you to speak openly with each other. 

these are just suggestions and some things we've learned to practice that work for us now. these things may not work for you or you may not be interested in them. whatever you choose to do, strength and peace to you.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, CrazyRedhead said:

Wow......that is a tough spot to be in......I have never experienced this, so my advice is limited.......Have you sat down and had a serious talk with him about it?.......I know you said you told him it bothers you........If I were you, I would have a talk with him, and tell him it is really affecting you emotionally, and would he please consider stopping it, for the good of the relationship.

The problem here is that you cannot prove anything, like you said in your post......I know you are worried about him going to a conference in her city, and that she is divorced.

Do you still have a therapist that you see regularly?.......If so, I would recommend talking to your therapist about it, and see what suggestions they might have......Hopefully someone else that might have actually experienced this will respond.

 

yeah...We already had this talk, in the moment, I told him I didn't feel comfortable, nor did I think it was respectful for them to be texting at all hours, even during our holiday.....I told him it was majorly upsetting me, and I feel it's abnormal....I was just curious if anyone here had been in his situation. To make matters more complicated, he travels for work 2 times per month. He's often away, and all I can do is trust and turn a blind eye. It's just my intuition is screaming to me that he is emotionally invested and engaged in this woman. Not having sex, but emotionally connected - which feels just as awful. I can't access his texts. I can't see the latest interactions and the fact that I've brought it up already --- of course he's going to be more conscientious and aware of this. Or even try to hide it more....

I can't afford to see a therapist now, and I already directly brought it up in the moment that it really bothered me. Now it's just simmering inside, I keep thinking about it, but I haven't actually seen her texts come up lately. I can't stop thinking about her....wondering if they are still talking, or how often....If he's keeping her "in the wing" as an option, if anything crumbles between us.

3 hours ago, yarnandcats said:

speaking from personal experience, and this is just advice (and opinion) as we don't have any intimate knowledge of you/your spouse and this situation:

if your spouse cannot sit down for a serious discussion and answer all your questions about texting/tweeting and this colleague, then something is going on. if there is nothing to hide then why not show at least some of the texts/tweets? why not even introduce the two of you? if the partnership both of you have built is shaking because of this, it needs addressing until everyone is satisfied.

what to do? there wasn't much we could do when we were in this situation either, except express our dismay and anger. we did look at ways to separate ourselves physically/financially too; because sometimes one has to do the painful thing to protect oneself. ultimately this sort of behavior is a symptom of something deeper that needs addressing within the relationship; not casting blame on any one person: it takes two to make a good partnership and two to make a mediocre or horrible one as well. 

you can encourage your spouse to be open with you in a kind and gentle way; signal a truce on any divisive issues, clearing (as much as you can for your part) a way for honest conversation. listen without judgement and try to keep a handle on intense emotions; that will go a long way to give a safe space for both of you to speak openly with each other. 

these are just suggestions and some things we've learned to practice that work for us now. these things may not work for you or you may not be interested in them. whatever you choose to do, strength and peace to you.

It's a bit complicated because she lives in another country (like 11 hours flight), so no way to really meet her, not realistic. He's gone traveling twice per month, and lately I haven't even visibly seen him texting with her or anything. I can't really intervene. All he said was she was a colleague / friend in the same industry, that follows the sports/ scores like he does. He says they chat, are "just friends", etc. I don't know what else to say. If I keep making an issue of it, this will just push him away and make him think I have jealously issues.

I wish I could just have access to his texts as reassurance!! I trust that he wouldn't go sleeping around, but I feel like he's still probably texting with her constantly. Sharing things that we share as a married couple - she should not be in this picture!!! 

I wish I had her contact and could text her, tell her he's married...and to step back......I just feel helpless and sort of taken, you know? I can keep telling him how I honestly feel but this does no good - he'll just say I'm being silly, they are just friends/colleagues, he will never sleep with anyone else....and if he wasn't happy he'd leave me, whatever.....I'm at a loss.

Edited by Blahblah

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I'm moving this to the relationships forum. 

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On 3/21/2019 at 4:51 PM, Blahblah said:

yeah...We already had this talk, in the moment, I told him I didn't feel comfortable, nor did I think it was respectful for them to be texting at all hours, even during our holiday.....I told him it was majorly upsetting me, and I feel it's abnormal....I was just curious if anyone here had been in his situation. To make matters more complicated, he travels for work 2 times per month. He's often away, and all I can do is trust and turn a blind eye. It's just my intuition is screaming to me that he is emotionally invested and engaged in this woman. Not having sex, but emotionally connected - which feels just as awful. I can't access his texts. I can't see the latest interactions and the fact that I've brought it up already --- of course he's going to be more conscientious and aware of this. Or even try to hide it more....

I can't afford to see a therapist now, and I already directly brought it up in the moment that it really bothered me. Now it's just simmering inside, I keep thinking about it, but I haven't actually seen her texts come up lately. I can't stop thinking about her....wondering if they are still talking, or how often....If he's keeping her "in the wing" as an option, if anything crumbles between us.

It's a bit complicated because she lives in another country (like 11 hours flight), so no way to really meet her, not realistic. He's gone traveling twice per month, and lately I haven't even visibly seen him texting with her or anything. I can't really intervene. All he said was she was a colleague / friend in the same industry, that follows the sports/ scores like he does. He says they chat, are "just friends", etc. I don't know what else to say. If I keep making an issue of it, this will just push him away and make him think I have jealously issues.

I wish I could just have access to his texts as reassurance!! I trust that he wouldn't go sleeping around, but I feel like he's still probably texting with her constantly. Sharing things that we share as a married couple - she should not be in this picture!!! 

I wish I had her contact and could text her, tell her he's married...and to step back......I just feel helpless and sort of taken, you know? I can keep telling him how I honestly feel but this does no good - he'll just say I'm being silly, they are just friends/colleagues, he will never sleep with anyone else....and if he wasn't happy he'd leave me, whatever.....I'm at a loss.

Hi, I've just gotten back here to talk and start a post about a slightly similar topic, but weirder and more effed up (Haven't read recent rules about profanity, someone please update me cause it's healthy to express violent emotions sometimes). 

I've been married to my spouse for almost two years but we've been together for almost five. This exact same thing happened to us and unfortunately, it progressed to more upsetting things. She had been talking consistently with this girl she only met online -- and also lives in a different country. I guess I don't need to tell you how that feels since you've already described it so accurately. This was the girl she pursued before me whom (I later found out) she never got over. So many months spent on pleading, explaining my feelings, having those "talks" for her not to communicate with her anymore. They talked about sex, intimate details of our relationship, details about her (my spouse's) life plans that she doesn't even discuss with me. I broke up with her, several times before we got married and she got back with me, telling me it meant nothing and I'm the one she chooses. But this emotional cheating continued until one day, she finally admitted she still has feelings for her even though they never met. This was when I decided to confront the girl via messenger and told her to keep her distance because my spouse still has feelings for her and I don't know if they share these feelings. The girl told me she didn't and that she's not interested in a relationship with my spouse then she gradually stopped responding to her which was respectful and I appreciated it. 

But my spouse continued to think about her. She even brought up the idea of polyamory so that she can have us both -- something she already proposed before we got married to which I repeated said NO. She admitted that she wants to have sex with her, travel to places with her but that I will still be her main partner. The only thing that sort of saved us was that the girl didn't feel the same way so my spouse basically was forced to choose me. 

There was one thing that helped throughout all that conundrum. I told her firmly AND meant it that if this continues, I am out. In the end, she chose me. What I can tell you is to think about making that choice for yourself. Contrary to what others have pointed out, you don't necessarily need to have that "proof" that he is cheating. The fact that you expressed clearly that you're not comfortable with him flirting with this woman -- do not believe that cr*p that it is not flirting even he doesn't confirm it -- the fact that you've made that clear and refuses to make adjustments and compromises for you, really sabotages the relationship. To not even be willing to talk about it openly means that there is something more to it than he lets on and I am talking from experience. He has to know and you have to mean it that you are NOT okay with this and that you either work this issue out together or you will leave. I hope others will see that this is not the same as making threats in form of manipulation to get him to do what you want. This is different because you are setting boundaries, for valid reasons, that the other person needs to respect. And you are expected to do the same. Please think about this and remember that self-care is more important than being with someone who takes your pains for granted. 

Fast forward to today, my spouse and I are in a better place because the girl is out of the picture. However, I am certain that she is still in her mind because she once told me that she thinks about her everyday. I stay... for reasons. But our marriage has been one big mistake which is another story that I will talk about in a new topic. It turns out that her tendency to cheat and look for emotional support elsewhere is because of a symptom called emotional incest. For this reason, I do not think I will continue to stay.

I would like to point out that sure, there must be issues in your relationship that needs to be addressed which might have pushed him to act the way he does with this girl. But I disagree that you are partly at fault for his behavior. People may make us want to do something that could hurt others but it is ultimately our choice if we do it or not. Do not blame yourself even though it feels like it's your fault. But I know that's easier said than done. Whatever your problems are, those are between you and him and you need to work on those together. But running to a third party to resolve his issues is wrong and must not be justified. 

I hope this helps you see things from a different perspective, from someone who has been in this difficult position. Your case is slightly different than mine but I hope you see the common factors that can destroy a relationship. 

As of now, what he's doing looks harmless especially to outsiders who might even say you are overreacting. Know that your feelings are valid and you are right to be concerned. If this is not addressed sooner, you might find yourself where I am now. I wish for you the courage to do what is right for yourself. If he shows interest in prioritizing your relationship over his thing with this girl, there is hope. Counseling might help, only if he truly wants to make things better.

If you need someone to talk to, I am offering my support. You can send me a message. Or not. Just know that there are people in here who understands the pain you are in and that YOU matter. 

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I've stayed away from this topic for as long as I could because this touches several hot buttons/triggers of mine.

Simply put, I would not tolerate this and would put my foot down with ultimatums if necessary. Emotional cheating is the worst cheating there is. Your husband is giving affection to someone other than you. You should NOT be ok with that. If it were fucking, one could argue that it's just sex, but this goes to the core of your relationship with your husband.

When we were breaking up, my ex had the nerve to tell me that she didn't cheat on me. To her cheating means fucking. But she was going around telling her friends including one particular guy she is now married to all the troubles she perceived in our relationship in intimate detail instead of coming to me about it. I view that as the worst betrayal ever. Maybe, possibly I could have forgiven fucking because I could convince myself that it happened in a weak moment, but I CAN NEVER forgive emotional cheating. As I said, it goes to the core of the relationship.

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57 minutes ago, jt07 said:

I've stayed away from this topic for as long as I could because this touches several hot buttons/triggers of mine.

Simply put, I would not tolerate this and would put my foot down with ultimatums if necessary. Emotional cheating is the worst cheating there is. Your husband is giving affection to someone other than you. You should NOT be ok with that. If it were fucking, one could argue that it's just sex, but this goes to the core of your relationship with your husband.

When we were breaking up, my ex had the nerve to tell me that she didn't cheat on me. To her cheating means fucking. But she was going around telling her friends including one particular guy she is now married to all the troubles she perceived in our relationship in intimate detail instead of coming to me about it. I view that as the worst betrayal ever. Maybe, possibly I could have forgiven fucking because I could convince myself that it happened in a weak moment, but I CAN NEVER forgive emotional cheating. As I said, it goes to the core of the relationship.

Yeah, I don't want to worry you but I agree with this. My ex had a number of emotional affairs and I hated sitting there watching him text and being told I was being unreasonable for having an issues with it.  I later found out just how much personal details about myself and our relationship he had shared with others and it hurt like hell. He also managed to always spin it so I came across as massive bitch and he was some hard done by guy who was kind enough to stay and support his crazy gf. One of his 'friendships' progressed to a relationship and he left me for her. 

If its upsetting you and feels wrong to how you want your relationship to be then it needs to be talked about especially as even though she lives far away there is still the possibility of them meeting at a work event. .An emotion affair can hurt just as much as a sexual one. It should matter to him how you are feeling and he also needs to understand why its making you unhappy and weather or not he is willing to change his behaviour

 

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On 3/21/2019 at 3:29 PM, Blahblah said:

He said he would tell her it bothers me.

Sorry but this is just BS. It's on him to recognise this is bothering you. Kind of makes it sound like he's shifting the blame. 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/25/2019 at 9:20 PM, jt07 said:

I've stayed away from this topic for as long as I could because this touches several hot buttons/triggers of mine.

Simply put, I would not tolerate this and would put my foot down with ultimatums if necessary. Emotional cheating is the worst cheating there is. Your husband is giving affection to someone other than you. You should NOT be ok with that. If it were fucking, one could argue that it's just sex, but this goes to the core of your relationship with your husband.

When we were breaking up, my ex had the nerve to tell me that she didn't cheat on me. To her cheating means fucking. But she was going around telling her friends including one particular guy she is now married to all the troubles she perceived in our relationship in intimate detail instead of coming to me about it. I view that as the worst betrayal ever. Maybe, possibly I could have forgiven fucking because I could convince myself that it happened in a weak moment, but I CAN NEVER forgive emotional cheating. As I said, it goes to the core of the relationship.

@jt07 I'm sorry to hear this....I've read that today in this digital age, emotional cheating is much more common and probably many many people are doing it. Can I ask how you found out exactly who she was talking to and what she was saying? I don't think my spouse is going around "spilling dirt" about our private relationship- hell I don't even know if she knows anything about me.

It's just this attention to his phone that is killing me. I can't see the messages. Our intimacy died a long time ago, we went to counseling, was no help. He does not really emotionally support me. We are living apart temporarily at moment also. For all I know, they maybe only talk about hockey scores and work, which is fine but there is a point where it crosses the line, you know?? And this is an opportune time (easy, convenient) for him to get away with whatever he desires. He's in control of the marriage.

On 3/25/2019 at 10:29 PM, Raspberry said:

Yeah, I don't want to worry you but I agree with this. My ex had a number of emotional affairs and I hated sitting there watching him text and being told I was being unreasonable for having an issues with it.  I later found out just how much personal details about myself and our relationship he had shared with others and it hurt like hell.

One major thing that complicates my situation is that we are currently living apart (temporarily). Yet I am completely financially dependent on him due to unemployment, many international moves (long complicated story which i can't go into). So I cannot see if they are still texting or anything. I just find myself extremely angry still - maybe I'm being paranoid, but I can't stop obsessing if they are still in regular contact? Basically, it's just my intuition gut that his behavior is continuing, but I have no proof! If I bring up the subject, he just says " we are just colleagues, don't worry"  But I still worry!!!

Basically it's me that is losing trust and feeling suspicious, when I have no current proof. I feel insecure about my marriage these days and I'm wondering if it is all on me to change MY mindset, just deal with it? He has conferences and collaborative projects with this woman, so maybe I'll never know. I'm very biased as well, as every boyfriend I've had has cheated on me. I can't help but think that it is just in male DNA to pursue a challenge, and at least "flirt" with cheating, if not explicity cheat (I know this is not true, but IME).

What is the best thing to do? All my close friends say he seems like an opportunist, I should threaten to leave or whatever. But I cannot do this for many reasons and anyhow this will just push him further away from me!

Edited by Blahblah

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Your situation sounds a hell of a lot more complicated then mine was. I wasn't financially dependant on him but was dependant in a lot of other ways. Its clear you can't just leave but maybe you could try and sit down again together and see what each of you want regarding the relationship moving forward. Its clear you can't just leave so I'm pretty unsure what else you can do. Sorry I can't really give any advice but I hope things work out for you. Its a very difficult, hurtful situation to be in. 

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