Recently, Village Church evangelical pastor Matt Chandler took an indefinite leave of absence from preaching after confessing to an online relationship with a woman.
The relationship was not sexual or romantic, Chandler told his Southern Baptist Church in Flower Mound, Texas, but elders believed the frequent and familiar direct messages exchanged via Instagram were “unguarded and unwise” and “revealed something unhealthy.” “.
This story sheds light on the phenomenon of emotional cheating – a lesser-known but widespread type of infidelity.
What is emotional infidelity?
The traditional view of infidelity involves physical cheating; being unfaithful by having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone other than a spouse or partner. This differs from emotional cheating, which is part of a broader definition of infidelity. This type of infidelity occurs when a partner shares emotional intimacy and connection with someone other than their spouse or partner. Such matters of the heart and mind have also been referred to as micro fraud. This refers to the small and seemingly insignificant things that a person who, while not explicitly unfaithful, can carry the touch of unfaithfulness can do.
Cheating doesn’t always have to involve sex or even talk about sex. Emotional affairs involve a personal connection that transcends boundaries. This may include conversations that are inappropriate because of their “frequency and familiarity,” like those in the Chandler case. This type of contact can be considered intimate as it consists of sharing feelings and thoughts about personal information about spouse and children or private matters related to health and finance. Emotional infidelity forms a bond that mimics the closeness of a romantic relationship, and it may even involve some level of sexual tension or romantic attraction.
Today’s culture offers ample opportunity for this type of infidelity. Emotional cheating can take place in person in a shared environment such as the office, leading to the concept of “work partners”. Emotional affairs can also include staying in touch with ex-boyfriends and old flames through secret meetings, phone calls, texting, or social media. Emotional cheating often occurs online, hidden in email conversations and chats from messaging programs, or in DMs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Red flags of an emotional affair include people hiding their computers and cell phones and removing incriminating evidence; Deleting their texts, messages and phone calls.
Emotional matters may not even involve a person secretly communicating with someone they “shouldn’t be talking to.” This contact can take place with known friends or colleagues. In the Chandler case, the pastor of his church said he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong — the DMing wasn’t a secret. His wife knew. The woman’s husband knew. However, when scrutinized by elders, the online sharing was deemed “concerning” and “inappropriate”. The village church also hired a law firm to review Chandler’s social media use and concluded that the pastor had violated the church’s guidelines on social media use.
What does emotional infidelity say about a person?
People who cheat emotionally often say they are unhappy in their main relationship and feel neglected or misunderstood. They may connect with a person who offers more emotional support because they don’t feel valued in their relationship. Some emotional affairs have more selfish reasons, like escaping boredom. These people crave the excitement and infatuation of emotional affairs and find them as intoxicating and addictive as alcohol or drugs.
Emotional infidelity is a reflection of character. Those who engage in non-physical affairs may be emotionally insecure or afraid of attachment. This behavior often reveals a lack of self-esteem and a lack of respect for one’s partner. Emotional affairs, particularly in serial offenders, can indicate their lack of a moral compass and reveal a lack of empathy disorder.
What is the harm of emotional infidelity?
Some may dismiss emotional infidelity as harmless or harmless. Those in a relationship can downplay their involvement and downplay the affair as “just” emotional, and also argue, “but we didn’t have sex.” This type of relationship isn’t “just” an emotional affair — it can be destructive and unhealthy. In the workplace, emotional affairs are unprofessional and unethical, causing communication problems and interpersonal conflict. Emotional affairs are traumatic for affected spouses and partners. They lead to a sense of betrayal and a loss of trust. The hurt and deception that accompanies it can create long-lasting resentment and distrust. Many relationships don’t survive emotional affairs and end in separation or divorce.
To repair a relationship damaged by emotional infidelity, the affairs must end and the instigator should see a therapist to address any underlying emotional and psychological issues. Marriage counseling and couples therapy can also help those in a relationship hopefully rebuild trust and recover from the effects of emotional infidelity.
To find a therapist, please visit Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory.
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