How to Survive an Emotional Affair and Keep Your Manhood

How to Survive an Emotional AffairIs your wife in love with another man? Does she continue pushing you away and defiling your marriage?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to survive her emotional affair?

Whether or not your wife is aware that you know about her infidelity, if she continues to involve herself with another man, then it’s going to take an immense amount of strength and endurance on your part to save the marriage.

As you continue reading, you’re going to learn 6 simple steps to ease the pain of your wife’s emotional unfaithfulness.

These are the steps I wish I’d known when I was facing emotional infidelity, back in the relationship I had before meeting my wife. Even though I still would’ve left the relationship, they may have helped maintain my sanity. Never quite got all of that back ;-)

Quick note – this article is not about how to forgive an emotional affair or how to end an emotional affair, it’s about how to survive an emotional affair while it’s still happening.

First Things First – Take a Deep Breath

There is a huge amount of emotional turbulence that comes with any kind of infidelity. I’m willing to bet that you’ve spent hours and hours worrying about your wife, your marriage or what you could have done to prevent her emotional affair. Maybe all of the above.

You’re frustrated, you’re tired, and you don’t know where to turn.

So, stop for a moment…

Get your head out of the muck…

Take a deep breath.

You’re still alive. You’re not divorced. But you are unhappy.

It’s time to talk about you. Because after all, YOU are the only one that you can control.

You do want control of your life again, right? I’m willing to bet you haven’t felt that in a while.

You Need a Plan to Survive an Emotional Affair

Moving forward without a plan is foolish. You can’t go into the future blind. Surviving an emotional affair isn’t something you do by the seat of your pants. Develop a plan of action for yourself (not for your wife), and then follow through with it.

What follows is a 6-step plan to survive your wife’s emotional affair without losing yourself to desperation, guilt, anger and depression.

Step 1.
Understand Why She Continues to Want Him

The first step is understanding why your wife cheated. And no, contrary to what she’s telling you, it’s not your fault.

Your wife’s emotional affair is now an addiction.

It’s not something to be pitied, for she chose to allow herself to fall into it. Nor is it something to be pardoned, for she could have brought the problems into the light of your marriage instead of turning away to something easy.

But however you look at it, nothing changes the fact that right now your wife is literally addicted to another man. And like any addiction, an emotional affair will be difficult for her to break free from. And also just like any addiction, the best approach is cold turkey.

Psychologists call this state of romantic addiction “Limerance“, and I’ve written more about it in this article about What Is an Emotional Affair.

Your wife began a relationship with another man because he paid attention to her. However, the reason that she can’t stop is because she’s unable to let go of how he makes her feel.

Again, I cannot stress enough that there’s no excuse for cheating; this is just meant to help you understand what your wife is going through.

If you want more help with this step, check out this quick guide to help you get over your wife’s affair.

Step 2.
Don’t Be the Victim

This step to survive an emotional affair is perhaps the most important.

Now that you understand why your wife continues to be involved with another man, or why she was involved with him for so long, it’s time to let go of the self-pity and self-blame.

You are NOT the reason that your wife cheated!

Even if you weren’t being the best husband before she became involved in an emotional affair, the vows of marriage mandate that all problems be dealt with through the spouse, not through an attractive friend. For her to confide in someone other than you is blatantly unfaithful.

Furthermore, it drives a wedge into your relationship. So many women complain about their husbands, then go off and do everything in their power to make their husbands even less appealing. Of course she’ll find it easier to talk to a man whose only concern is getting in her pants, than to her husband who wants to delve into a fiery furnace of marriage problems.

In short, it was her decision to flee from the problems in your marriage. It was her irresponsibility, her betrayal, and her unfaithfulness that led to her emotional affair, no matter how accidentally or innocently it began.

She’ll probably tell you that you were “cold”, or that she felt like she couldn’t talk to you. Or maybe she’ll say that the marriage was going downhill anyways.

Don’t let yourself believe these lies. There’s a term for this too; it’s called blame-shifting.

Just like any other addict, your wife will refuse to acknowledge her part in the emotional affair. The worst thing you can do is play into her denial by allowing yourself to believe that her emotional infidelity is in any way your fault.

It may not be much consolation now, but rest assured that your wife will actually be the one who ends up with the most pain because of her emotional infidelity, at least in the long run. Especially if it costs her the marriage.

Step 3.
Stop Being Her Safety Net

An addict won’t do anything about their addiction until it hurts more to continue than it does to stop.

That’s just the way it is.

By now you’re probably feeling a little bit angry. You’re probably starting to realize that not only has your wife lied to you about the emotional affair, but she’s somehow displaced the blame onto you when it should be on her. Not only has she devastated your trust, she’s also devastated your confidence and your manhood.

It’s time to put your foot down.

The reason that your wife continues her emotional affair is because you’re giving her a safety net. She knows that if she ever falls out of favor with this other man, she always has you to turn back to. She is living without consequences, and she knows it.

This simultaneously pushes her to desire the other man more and takes away her incentive to come back to you.

Stop being her safety net. Make it clear that you won’t allow yourself to be treated this way, and that if she continues her emotional affair then you will leave. And you have to mean it, too.

I’m telling you this man-to-man:

You deserve better than an unfaithful wife.

That’s not to say you should abandon your marriage, but until you value yourself enough to draw the line, there’s no hope of surviving her emotional affair. In the end, your wife was the one who broke your trust; it’s not your responsibility to fix it.

At some point, she’ll have to prove to you that she is sorry for her sins and that she wants to save your marriage. The longer you remain in the background as her safety net, the longer it’ll take for her to change and the deeper into her affair you allow her to get without any consequences.

This is something I’ve talked about a lot on Husband Help Haven – The best way to get your wife back is actually to let her go (and stand on your own two feet without her). This also applies when learning how to survive an emotional affair.

Step 4.
Abandon Fear; Take Control

Right now that anger you were feeling earlier is starting to get mixed up with fear.

You’re afraid of being alone, you’re afraid of being unhappy, you’re afraid of losing your wife and you’re afraid of divorce.

But guess what? As of right now…

  • You ARE alone.
  • You are NOT happy.
  • Your wife is already GONE.
  • And your wife WANTS divorce, because she would rather be with him than with you.

The worst has already happened… There’s nothing left to be afraid of!

That’s not to say that these things can’t change in the future, but relying on the future for your happiness now is foolish and self-defeating.

Remember, YOU are the only one that you can control. So start taking control.

Step 5.
Recognize What Needs to Happen

One of the other articles in Emotional Affairs 101 is called How to Permanently End an Emotional Affair in 6 Steps. In it, you’ll find a series of steps that your wife must complete before your marriage can be saved. I highly recommend you read through that article so that you can gain a clear recognition of what needs to happen on your wife’s part for things to turn around.

The answer isn’t waiting around for her to come back to you, or just assuming your marriage will recover. No matter how much pain you feel now, the depth of your shattered trust for your wife has only begun to show itself.

As I said before, your wife is the one primarily responsible for fixing her mistake. But even though it’s her responsibility to take action and fix it, you can still lead her in how to do so.

Step 6.
Have Hope!
Your Marriage Will Be Better for It

The last step is a step towards hope.

Even though your marriage may be closer to divorce than it’s ever been before, there’s a silver lining…

If your wife can beat the odds and turn a new leaf… If you can forgive her emotional affair and let go of the pain… Then your marriage will be the best it’s ever been!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This painful time in your life won’t last forever.

Either your wife repents and your marriage will be reignited with a primal attraction that’s never been present before. Or, she doesn’t and you live on and find happiness on your own. Obviously, you probably prefer the former of the two, but recognize that you will be happy either way.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

You can tell yourself that you’re going to start laying down the law all you want, but if your actions don’t match your words, nothing is going to change.

You must put your foot down, and you must be forceful about it.

For example, don’t just say you’re going to take away her safety net… Actually do it. It’ll be hard, but it’ll be worth it too.

Don’t be afraid to set a hard deadline by which your wife needs to come around by. If your wife insists on staying involved in her emotional affair and can’t/won’t let him go, there’s a certain point where you just need to say, “That’s enough.”

You can’t expect to survive an emotional affair forever.

Remember, nothing will be different until it hurts more for her to continue the emotional affair than it does to change. Don’t bend over backwards thinking that’ll get her back… Let her know that you’re through playing the games.

Final Warning:
Your Wife Must Commit

Before I let you go, I have one final warning for you.

It’s normal for your wife to be slow to take the blame for the emotional affair. However, if your wife refuses to acknowledge her emotional affair, or refuses to stop her emotional affair, or worse, lies about stopping it, then that’s a huge red flag that is not to be underestimated.

No matter what your wife says to you, no matter how much she blames you, she is the one that cheated. You can be patient, you can be respectful, you can be forgiving, but don’t forsake your self-worth or your dignity, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries.

If she wants the marriage to survive an emotional affair, she’s going to have to work for it. Conversely, if she’s not willing to work for it, the marriage will not survive, no matter how forgiving you’re willing to be.

And no matter what happens, I’m in your corner.

With much manly love,
– Stephen


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 14 comments
Maura - last year

Thank you for this advice, I’m a wife with a husband who has been in an emotional affair for about 2 years, yours is pretty much the only logical advice I’ve been able to find.

Josh - last year

Hi Stephen,

Dude, that you so much. I just discovered my wife was having an emotional affair this past week. I caught it early (3 weeks into it, not counting the tension and build up). I noticed some long and ill timed phone calls on our bill. I checked her phone and the text messages confirmed it. It’s a coworker, a supervisor/mentor. At first she said she was trying to figure out what she wanted, and that she had to talk to him more to know if what she felt was something significant or fleeting. I caught her in a lie yesterday when I checker her calendar to schedule couples counseling. She said she had to work a 24 hour shift, 8am-8pm. I was relieved when I looked at the schedule and it said 8-8. But I did a double take: 8pm-8am. She had even got up and put on her work uniform that morning to sell the lie. She spent the whole day with him.

I kicked her out as soon as she got home. I’m scared she will pick him. But, my situation sounds like everyone else’s to the T. She says she feels something for him she never has felt in her life, she feels alive for the first time–but she seems a little scant on the details as to what exactly she is feeling and why its special. She says she was never in love with me and she only married me because she thought it would make her feel something. But I know it’s bullshit. We have old letters from when we dated long distance early on. She and I were crazy about each other–she thought about me all the time and said shed never felt the way she felt for me about anyone ever. I have no idea how long it will take her to realize this fat, 40 year old, bald dousche is nothing. I have to be patient and wait, I guess. Either way, he is moving to PA in a few months to be closer to his wife, although, now she says he doesn’t want to move. Well, I’m going to get in touch with his wife tomorrow. If I can’t sleep at night, neither should he. He’s a scumbag for using his position of power over my wife. Yeah, she made a bad bad choice, but a man is supposed to man up and protect another man’s wife when she’s vulnerable. Especially when you just drank a glass of scotch with that man at a work-party/gathering two months ago.

Anyway, I’m hurting real bad and your post really helped. Thanks.


Robert - 9 months ago


Thank you. I am still reading everything. I wanted to ask if you have any experience or thoughts about a wife having an emotional affair with another woman. The situation fits to a tee. They claim that her friend is not into women physically. The emotional side is just as bad. This woman even interuppted our Valentine’s Day by bringing a large amount of gifts over that evening. My wife got very anxious when i told her that she is in fact “in love” with this woman. She claims that i just dont like this woman when the fact is she spends most of her time thinking of or texting her. We cant even go on a date because she only wants to be wherever her object of affection is going. Im glad that i found this site. Thank you.

    Stephen - 9 months ago

    Robert, yes it does happen although it is much less common. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. You know the signs of an emotional affair and you know your wife’s behavior.

    Now, the real question is what do you do. I think that in your case, confronting her about the emotional affair was a good idea. If she continues to deny it, you can try saying, “Okay fine, she’s just a good friend – if that’s true, then for the sake of our marriage can you completely set aside this friendship just for the weekend so we can get some one-on-one time?” My guess is her answer will be something along the lines of, “I’m allowed to have the friends I want!”

    Goal #1 is getting HER to realize on her own that she is having an emotional affair, or at least that her relationship with this “friend” is harmful. Once she gets to that point, you can start making real progress in actually fixing the problem.

      Bryson - a couple of months ago

      I’m in the same boat. Wife of 9 yrs has a girlfriend. Stops making up to bed at night. Friend sleeps over etc etc. finally I tell her she needs to pick her family over her friend. Next day she’s gone. That was 3 months ago. She still denies the emotional affair but has since came to a realization that her and her friend are bi and they are now in a relationship. Admitted about a month after she left. I’m still dying inside. I cut off her safety net but haven’t heard anything from her in a month. Never did hear anything good since she left. It’s just absolutely horrible. All of our actual friends and close family can’t believe it. They know how I’ve treated her all these years. I’m struggling.

CC - 7 months ago

For 20 years now I have been in off and on contact with a male friend. My husband despised our relationship and I always defended it and resented my husband for getting in the way. He asked me several times over the years to end it. I would and then somehow we would either run into each other or he’d reach out to wish me a happy bday and we’d catch up with whats been going on. I never thought it was an emotional affair. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in years. Went to a class reunion Christmas mixer and he was there. My husband encouraged me to go over and say hello. We spoke briefly as I didn’t want to upset my husband. Without my knowing my husband spoke with him privately and asked him if I attempted any outreach to him after this night to reject me. Sure enough I did reach out to him the following Monday and we kept in touch for the next couple weeks. My husband saw text messages (although innocent) He was very upset that I’d contacted him and that my friend accepted the contact even after he’d asked him not to. Last month things got very violent. I continued to keep in contact with this friend because I thought he can’t control everything in my life and since he won’t let me have this friendship openly, I will do what I want. I ‘m not doing anything wrong. Well I’d taken the day off to attend a home inspection for a home we were looking to purchase. Afterwards we went to lunch. During lunch my friend called and my husband grabbed the phone and begin to make threats. The following day those threats turned to action when my husband received a tip that my friend was at a local lounge having drinks with a few of his friends. He drove to the lounge and beat up my friend. They were kicked out and my friend took a tire iron and smashed out the windshield and rear window as well as causing damage to the body of the car. The police were contacted and they both fled the scene. It had to come to this! I thought I could eventually convince my husband to allow our friendship to exist. This episode had me very upset. my husband thought I might leave him after that. I began doing research and reading about opposite sex friends. I discovered I was in an emotional affair and that I’d been “cheating” all of this time. I cant believe all this time I was so angry and resentful to my husband and he continued to love me more. I feel awful. We’re in counseling now it the 3rd week. We will recover from this but there is a long road ahead. One that has made me question whether I want to remain married. Hopefully counseling will help. So far so good.

James - 7 months ago

Thank you for these article you’ve given me alot to think about. I think my wife is in an emotional affair with a coworker she flirts with him at at work and some times via text but when I confronted her she said nothing was going on and then said she flirted cuz I don’t flirt with her. your articles have helped me and I am working on make ing my marriage stronger. Thank you so much.

Anatoly - 7 months ago

Hello Stephen,

Thank you for this insightful article. I am living this kind of situation and it is very hard. I am not married tho, currently living with my girlfriend for 2 years. We are both very young — I am 25, she is 23. Last August we went to holidays together and had a great time, everything was delightful and our relationship was great. Suddenly when we came back (mid-September) she started to go away emotionally from me. We spent Autumn and Winter in a strange situation. My gut always said to me that something was definitely wrong. I tried several times to push out from her something and try to solve whatever it was. Nothing happened. Nonetheless, she also had a “crazy” period by going out a lot. Last Sunday I had enough of this situation, maybe because I was desperate, so I managed to see her iPhone pass and while she was taking a shower I broke her privacy ( and I felt terrible for it). Desperately looking to find out something unusual I saw a photo. It was October and she was sitting in the arms of an English guy that she met 2 years before on summer holidays. I remember that evening because I was at home, and she told me “honey, I go out with my two friends (girls)”. I told her that this guy sent me the photo, and saw the shame in her eyes, a total embarrassment. After that, she told me: “I’m truly sorry, now I will tell you everything that happened in the past 4 months”. Except for this episode, she met him in London A month after when she went for a weekend with a friend and another evening spent with her friend and other two guys. Now she is sorry for what happened and wanted to tell me but was shameful (bla bla bla). She justified her actions by saying that, living together was scary and that she didn’t know what to do. She looked for attention and tasted what good the world has to offer. Now, she understood her mistakes and wants to build a future with me.

And what should I say? She destroyed me completely…I told her “we played your game and now if you wanna continue this relationship, we’ll play by my rules”. I love her, a lot. But what happened is so hard to digest that I’m really thinking of ending it…in the last days she is an another person… in love again..and promised me that she will fight for my trust again.

What do you think about this situation Stephen? From one side I am so much in love with her and would like to take a wise decision by giving her another chance..even if many (especially at my age) would definitely break up because “you are young and can find better out there”. From the other side, she told me several times loving words which actually were lies…due to her emotional affair and a desire to feel beautiful for other guys (yes because deeply in my heart i know that she didn’t cheat physically).


Jay Castle - a few months ago

I need advice…. My wife and I have been together for almost 10 years but only married for about 2. I recently found out the she has been spending time with another man, she was at his house for over 7 hours after texting him over 250 times in 2 days back and forth. The problem I am having is that I haven’t discussed this with her, she might suspect that I have figured out what’s going on but she hasn’t stopped talking to him. The problem is we have an expensive 2 week vacation planned that we’ve already paid for.

Should I wait to talk to her about her affair or should I talk to her before we leave and try to get through the vacation as best as I can?


johnny - a few months ago

ok so ya my girls manager/owner has a better communication with her then me they always are talking laughing at jokes or what ever and always talking about him and she has also said to him (its great to be acknowledged and noticed thank you) now that all I needed to here bro she always bitching at me about something what you think is that me tripping cause I feel something wrong not right

Jason - a few months ago

Hi Stephen,
I’m in the process of recovering my marriage and hit a snag. I asked my wife if she was having an emotional affair , I told her about the signs I believed where there, she swore up and down she would never do that. I believe her and she commented on my insecurity. I’ve been working on being more emotionally present but it’s been hard with the flood of information I’m now processing.

I feel like I just set back our marriage recovery. We had seventeen days of real progress and I hope I didn’t sewer it.

If you have any advice, I really like to hear it.

andy - a couple of months ago

thanks Stephen

my wife was having an emotional affair I found text messages on her phone she said it was just a few friendly messages but when I looked at older statements I found out there were hundreds of messages. she had changed his name in her phone book to try to hide it.
the worst part to me is that she doesn’t think she’s had an affair because “nothing physical happened”
it has tore me apart and she’s carrying on as normal telling me things weren’t good befor this and she couldn’t talk to me . it’s been 6 months since I found out and after reading this article I know I need stop letting her have the upper hand on me. I still love her but need to have more respect for myself.

EP - a couple of days ago

Cutting the safety net… does that mean to take away her phone and stop paying the bills that are hers?

    Stephen - a couple of days ago

    Yes, depending on the situation it certainly can, I don’t know all the details. Really though, cutting away the safety net isn’t about doing anything to her – it’s about what you do with yourself. It’s an internal shift that removes you as her backup option. It’s when you stop pursuing the marriage and assume that divorce is the course you’re on, and the only way that changes is if she wakes up one day and decides she wants the marriage. Hopefully for her sake that happens before you’ve moved on.


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