Is Emotional Cheating As Serious?

Cheating in marriages and relationships has been very rampant especially in the contemporary society. Many people have lost their marriage partners due to cheating either emotionally or sexually. People are usually less committed and satisfied in relationships when they get a feeling that their partners are cheating on them. Cheating or deceiving on ones partner is usually driven by less commitment in one relationship whereby some people may cheat as an attempt to get out of a relationship (Gunderson and Ferrari 2008 2). In most romantic relationships the most common type of cheating is the sexual cheating where someone practices sexual behavior outside a committed relationship.

The other type of cheating that is highly practised in today’s relationships is the emotional cheating where someone shows stronger emotional bonds with someone else outside a committed relationship. Over the recent past there has been heated debate on the impacts caused by either of the infidelity in relationships. Many people have diverse opinions on which of the two is more serious and more disastrous to a relationship. However there has been general consensus that both are capable of breaking relationships and that the seriousness of either of them will vary from one individual to the other (Gunderson and Ferrari 2008 3)

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Emotional cheating is betrayal of ones partner although it’s rarely seems like it since it does not involve a real affair like intimacy and sex. This type of cheating does not necessarily create unwanted pregnancies, break vows or infect diseases (Pawlik-Kienlen 2007). Emotional cheating is known as the type of cheating that cannot be easily detected since it has less rigid boundaries. According to Pawlik-Kienlen (2007), it’s much easier to tell when your partner is cheating sexually but it’s difficult to precisely tell the extent your emotional attachment with your partner or with any other person.

Emotional affairs may encompass movie dates, innocent dinners and even short picnics which the involved individuals take as normal activities in life. The distinguishing feature of an emotional friendship from other normal friendships is the sharing of problems, intimate secrets and triumphs that may not be shared with any other person even their spouses. Long conversations over the phone are also main characteristics of these friendships. According to experts on these studies the main characteristic of an emotional affair is that mostly the involved individuals are absolutely unaware of their behaviour and that they rarely see themselves as being unfaithful (Jet 2004 15). The fact that these people may not practice sexual affairs makes them to perceive their relationships as normal friendship that should not hurt anyone although in actual sense its hurts sometimes even more than the physical or sexual cheating.

Emotional cheating becomes more dangerous and hurting to a woman when she discovers that her partner has someone else whose personality he prefers than hers. This then brings her a feeling that she is no longer interesting to her partner and that she cannot satisfy his emotional needs. Some people argue that emotional cheating has more adverse impacts on relationships since emotional affairs simply mean that these people are not just after physical satisfaction (sex) but they actually love the other person which makes their relationship long term. According to (Pawlik-Kienlen 2007), this cheating takes away more from a marriage relationship because one takes to another person feelings that should be preserved for his or her spouse (Pawlik-Kienlen). Emotional affairs are also more difficult to end because of the feelings involved and can easily break marriages when one is caught between serious choices to make. Emotional cheating is found to stick around and mostly results to future problems. On the other hand problems from physical cheating can be easily resolved and forgotten since sometimes they occur mindlessly like when someone goes out and gets drunk. In such cases it’s easily understood that there are no emotional feelings and that there is no existing relationship between the two.

Emotional cheating also encompasses Internet cheating which has taken its place in family conflicts and relationships breakage in the contemporary society (Parker and Wampler 2003 415). People are finding themselves logging more times into the internets to talk to specific people. This type of communication advancing and that men are feeling more pleasure and relieve when talking to these online partners than they do when talking to their spouses. This type of cheating illustrates a pure emotional cheating. In internet cheating the individuals involved may not have seen each other and therefore can not be influenced by the thought of sexual satisfaction. This is viewed as a classic sign of investing ones emotions in other people in stead of concentrating them to your spouse.

Emotional cheating is found to more betraying to women than it is to men. According to Morrison 2009 2), when women are looking for marriage partners, they concentrate more on the emotional and intellectual qualities of a man as well as his ability to be a good father and provide for the family. On the other hand men focus more on the physical qualities of a woman in order to ensure that she is capable of producing offspring and satisfy his sexual desires. This implies that since women invest more on the emotional aspects of the relationship, emotional cheating is generally much hard for her to handle and therefore she may feel more betrayed.

Physical and sexual cheating

Sexual cheating is mostly regarded as the physical sexual intercourse with another person who is not your partner in marriage or in a relationship. It occurs when a partner who is in love with his or her spouse, gives in to his or her sexual desire with another person. According to Grello, Welsh and Harper (2006), this type of infidelity is usually driven by opportunity or situational circumstances, use of alcohol or other drugs and risk- taking behavior (Grello, Welsh and Harper 256). For partners in deep love, such cheating which is mostly unintended, brings so much guilt and regrets in them. This cheating may sometimes be as a result of hostile actions, immaturity or sexual addiction.

Sexual cheating mostly does not involve emotion feelings between the partners as in emotional cheating. This type of cheating may not be so detrimental to women like the emotional cheating but it’s also very destructive to relationships. An activity would be regarded as sexual affair not according to the presence of physical contact but because of other aspects as well. Strip shows, telephone sex and viewing stripers or pornography are all actions done out of sexual fantasies. According to Allen Johnson (2006), people who watch pornography or attend strip clubs are usually engaging in sexual acts and thus if they are involved in relationships they are actually cheating (Allen Johnson 154).

In sexual or physical cheating, when a man or a woman does sex outside the marriage, their partners starts doubting their bed skills and what their partners could be missing in them (Gunderson and Ferrari 2008 4).. The cheated partner may feel that he or she is not satisfying his or her partners’ sexual desires. This then makes them to be very conscious about their performance in bed which in turn makes them loose more their desire of having sex with their partners hence making the problem even worse. A partner cheats, the other partner refuses to have sex with the cheating partner making the cheating partner to cheat even more. Sexual cheating therefore causes a destructive circle which can completely ruin a marriage.

However sexual cheating has different impacts to men from what it has to women. Since men concentrate more on the physical qualities of a woman physical cheating is therefore more hurting to them (Gunderson and Ferrari 2008 3). As the providers in the house men want to be given the maximum respect and attention that they deserve and that physical cheating is viewed as lack of respect and attention for them. Men view sexually cheating women as betrayers who are even a threat to their security. On the other hand men view themselves as naturally potentially polygamous and capable of dividing their emotions and attention to more than one woman. This belief therefore makes men to put more seriousness on the sexual or physical cheating than the emotional cheating. In this perspective, women in cultures where polygamous marriage is upheld will regard emotional cheating as more serious than sexual cheating.

On the other hand this sexual cheating mostly involves sexual intercourse which can sometimes result to unwanted pregnancies, breakage of vows or may cause infection of some deadly sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS (Buss and Shackelford 1997). This therefore makes this cheating more serious than the emotional cheating in cases where a spouse becomes pregnant or impregnates someone outside the marriage or when they contract serious infections like HIV/AIDS. Such cases are more serious and difficult to resolve hence they mostly end in marriage breakages. In case of such occurrences this cheating therefore can result to guilt and depression which may end up to mental disorders.

For many individuals’ emotional affairs is a great source of comfort and relief in times of relationship problems and misunderstandings (Gunderson and Ferrari 2008 1). However these affairs encompass some share of intimate emotions between individuals and when these emotions are invested regularly on someone outside the marriage the marriage relationship is usually compromised. Emotional relationship starts as normal relationship and then deepens through regular contact numerous mail messages and discussions. With time there develops excitement and ease in hearing from the other person. Emotional cheating is known to involve a lot of talking though it may occasionally lead to sex which then makes it like sexual cheating. However although the sex between these people may be passionate, their relationship is primarily driven by the feeling of emotional safety and companionship.

The danger of emotional infidelity become worse when the door of emotional intimacy is opened and deepens the bond making the person in the emotional affair to start comparing between his or her spouse and the partner in the emotional affair (Parker and Wampler 2003 416). Sometimes one may argue that it’s easier to talk to his or her partner in emotional affair than it is to talk to his or her spouse. Other times your spouse may not seem to be listening and understanding to you like the other partner. Other times one may feel safe and comfortable when in the company of their partner in emotional affair than they do when in the company of their spouses. However it’s clear from our discussion that emotional cheating may result to physical cheating. Similarly the effect of either of the cheating may vary from one person to the other and therefore their seriousness is subjective.


Cheating in relationships is usually carried out in many different ways. The most common is the sexual cheating whereby research has shown most men usually have no emotional feelings for the woman and that they only show interest in the woman so as to get their sexual satisfaction and excitement. The other type of cheating is emotional cheating. Here men usually find themselves emotionally connected with other women besides their wives or girl friends and sex is not usually given the first priority. A man finds himself enjoying the company of this other woman more than he does for his own wife and they prefer spending their spare time with them (Morrison 2009 1).

According to a recent study conducted on emotional and physical cheating, 75% of women admitted that emotional cheating is more hurting than sexual cheating (Morrison 2009 1). On the other hand most of the interviewed women also admitted that it’s difficult to separate the two types of cheating since both would influence their feelings for their partners. Which way looks at it any type of cheating, whether emotional or physical ends up in ruining a relationship (Morrison 2009 1). Normally when one partner cheats on the other in a relationship, trust between them is lost and chances of regaining this trust is usually very minimal. Everyone who is in a relationship or has been in a relationship does not need to be lectured on what cheating either physical or emotional can do.

Experts say that one cannot be emotionally involved outside marriage and still expect things to function normally in his relationship at home. Whether the relationship does involve intimacy and sex or not it can be destructive to marriage relationships. According to Jet 2009 7 out of 10 emotional affairs result to physical or sexual affairs at the long run (Jet 7). This therefore implies that both emotional and physical cheating are interconnected and that it’s difficult to prefer one over the other. Sharing thoughts, problems and feelings as it happens in emotional intimacy is just like making love to one another’s mind before actually making love to their body. In other words verbal intimacy is just one step away from physical or sexual intimacy.

Annotated bibliography

Gunderson, Patrick and Ferrari, Joseph. R. Forgiveness of sexual cheating in romantic relationships: effects of discovery method, Frequency of Offence, and presence of Apology North American journal of Psychology, 2008, vol. 10 pp. 1-14

This article talks about the seriousness of emotional and physical sex as compared between male and female college students. The article gives discussions as got from interviews with college students about the infidelities and their ease of being forgiven. This article has helped in finding out that sexual cheating is more hurting or more serious to men as compared to emotional cheating. In the article we also find that it’s easier for women to forgive sexual infidelity than it is for men. Here some reasons of cheating like poor commitment in relationships are also revealed.

Grello, Catherine. M, Welsh, Deborah. P and Harper, Melinda. S. No strings Attached: the nature of casual sex in college students: The journal sex research vol. 43 no.3 August 2006 p.255-267

This article talks about circumstances linked to physical cheating among peers. It also informs on the dangers of both types of cheating. By the help of this article in the journal of sex research, the research finds that immaturity, use of drugs and risky behaviours are some of the causes of infidelity especially among college students. In the article the consequences of after sex are also discussed.

Pawlik-Kienlen, Laurie. What is Emotional Cheating? Jun 21, 2007 (

This website describes what is emotional and physical cheating and how they start. In this page the characteristics of emotional cheating are discussed. From this article the research finds out the dangers of emotional infidelity and how they can cause long term problems in marriages. The site helps to disclose why women are more affected by emotional cheating than men.

Morrison, Julia Emotional Or Sexual Cheating: Which Is Worse? Women’s Sexuality Correspondent every other Tuesday (

This website article compares the seriousness of emotional and sexual cheating and how they can easily break marriages. In this article the examples of emotional cheating are discussed. The men’s emotional involvement in sexual infidelity is also discussed in this page. From this website the research finds that emotional cheating cannot be easily identified and that it can be long term due to the emotional connection. The article also helps the research to conclude that both emotional and physical cheating can ruin relationships and that the seriousness of either will vary from on person to the other.
Jet magazine Vol. 105, No. 2124 May 2004 Johnson Publishing Company 64 pages (

This magazine evaluates the ideas of different people on emotional cheating. Ignorance of people in emotional relationships is also discussed. From this magazine the research reveals that people in emotional cheating view themselves and doing no mistake since they don’t venture into sexual affairs

Parker, Trent. S and Wampler, Karen S How Bad Is It? Perceptions of the Relationship: journal of Contemporary Family Therapy, New Jersey: Springer Volume 25, Number 4 / December, 2003 Pages 415-429

This journal discus the various types of cheating. The article talks of internet cheating which an example of emotional cheating. From the article it’s found that internet cheating can also ruin marriages. The article helps the research in unveiling that watching stripers and pornographic material is just like engaging into sexual affairs outside marriage and that those engaged in such activities are actually cheating.

Buss, David M Shackelford, Todd K Susceptibility to Infidelity in the First Year of Marriage Journal of Research in Personality Volume 31, Issue 2, June 1997, Pages 193-221 Academic Press.

This article talks about the consequences of cheating and how they affect families. The book gives results of a study carried out among 107 married couples on the possible signs of cheating among their spouses. From the article the research finds the dangers of sexual cheating like contracting of serious diseases like HIV/AIDS which could make relationships problems more difficult to solve.

Allen, Johnson. S Physical abusers and sexual offenders: forensic and clinical strategies CRC Press. 2006.

This book evaluates the emotional, physical and sexual cheating are their various forms. The book helps the research to conclude that all types of cheating are detrimental to relationships. From the book we are able to argue that emotional sex is interconnected with the physical sex and that it’s difficult to prefer one over the other.

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