It’s a fuzzy issue and when it happens in a relationship it can be hard to place the blame.
Now I know I’m going to receive a lot of flack for this, but let’s be real, most of us will eventually emotionally cheat on our partners at some point in our lives.
It’s a reality that most relationships either won’t face or cannot escape – but is the harsh reality actually that bad? Can a long-term relationship actually happily sustain monogamy for years and years without a wandering eye? Or is the societal belief that monogamy comes first at all costs so strong that we consider anything outside of this to be a betrayal?
For many who have been dating for some time are or will be faced with the millennial dilemma of can this work in the real world?
I’m sure you have a close friend who you think to be smart, charismatic, motivated, successful, happy and beautiful. Men may be drawn to that particular friend for as long as you’ve known her. And while she has always loved the attention of other men, she never engaged in this attention until her relationship started having problems.
She may now have (what you would consider) emotional relationships with two men since she started having problems with her boyfriend, and while this behavior has had many negative consequences, you have actually seen a lot of good come out of it as well.
Occasionally texting, flirting, and talking with new and interesting men has given your friend a taste of what it would be like to be single and dating. As someone who has been in the same relationship for (insert amount here) months/years, she has never experienced dating an adult. Having these connections with other men has taught her a lot about herself and what she wants from a relationship without throwing away (insert amount here) months/years with someone she loves.
Here’s the catch: just because someone is emotionally cheating doesn’t mean they don’t love the partner they are with. Is is disrespectful? Yes. Can it hurt your partner? Yes. Can it create even more problems in your relationship? Yes.
No matter how long or little you’ve been with your partner, questioning the status of your relationship is just part of life. And in many cases having an emotional affair with someone else can actually bring you back to a positive place with your partner.
Because of the connections with other men, you or a friend may realize that her/your significant other is the person you/she wants to be with and that your/their relationship is worth fighting for.
Now, I am in no way saying that emotional cheating or cheating in general is okay. Participating in any behavior that you know would hurt your partner is selfish and should be a reason to re-evaluate your happiness.
However, cheating is complicated and the reasons people engage in emotional cheating vary from person-to-person.
As a generation that grew up with so much choice and endless options, it’s challenging enough for us to commit to an Insta filter let alone a life-long partner. Sometimes we need to make mistakes to find out what we really want.
And anyone who says that you shouldn’t have to explore other options to be sure about your partner is being naive. Not everyone has to explore other options, but some people might feel like they do.
Our emotions are not black and white. Being in love doesn’t mean you’ll never be attracted to anyone else ever again. It’s human nature to wonder what if. We shouldn’t judge anyone for the journey they need to take to figure out what a happy relationship means to them.