How to Forgive an Emotional Affair

by Stephen Waldo

How to Forgive an Emotional Affair
How to Forgive an Emotional Affair

Are you struggling to put the past behind you?

What follows is a simple guide on how to forgive an emotional affair.

It’s common knowledge that the lies, deception and broken trust caused by emotional infidelity are near impossible to recover from. They can be just as hard to forgive as a physical affair.

It’s normal to have trouble moving forward if your wife has fallen in love with another man, so don’t think less of yourself for being here reading this.

If you’re unable to let go of the distrust, hurt, frustration and blame that all come with emotional cheating, then this is for you. As you continue reading, you’ll learn how to forgive an emotional affair and begin moving towards a better marriage.

9 Tips to Help You Move Forward

This guide is all about you and the things you can do for yourself to enable forgiveness. If you want to learn about what your wife should do to start rebuilding your trust, check out this guide about how to end an emotional affair.

Still here? Great. Let’s talk about you.

Here are nine tips to help you move forward:

Understanding Infatuation vs. Love

It’s very important to recognize the difference between infatuation and love.

[ezcol_1half]Infatuation is Temporary – It is not based on trust, commitment or true love. It’s more like an addiction than an actual relationship… The other person makes you feel good, so you like being around them. There is even a word to describe the chemical reactions in the brain during infatuation: Limerance.[/ezcol_1half]

[ezcol_1half_end]Love is Resilient – it remains even after the other person has hurt you (as you’re experiencing right now), it is an acceptance of flaws and it is unselfish. Love is a true relationship built on friendship, support, and attraction for the other person.[/ezcol_1half_end]

Let me be clear: this is NOT meant to excuse your wife or make light of her wrongdoing. There’s no denying that she shattered your trust and damaged your marriage. But, recognize that she was only infatuated with the other man, whereas she truly loves you.

I hope that makes sense.

Empathize, But Don’t Excuse

If your wife had an emotional affair, then at some point she probably blamed you for it. She may have even told you it was your fault when confronted about her relationship.

Even if she feels remorse and accepts responsibility for her actions now, you may still be holding onto some of that self-blame. You might say, “If only I’d been a better husband, maybe she wouldn’t have been driven away.”

Let me make this absolutely clear:

Your wife’s emotional infidelity had nothing to do with you.

Even if your marriage wasn’t perfect, seeking love and fulfillment outside the marriage is wrong. Not ifs, ands or buts about it.


Just because your wife has no excuse for her actions doesn’t mean that you can’t empathize with her mistake.

Remember, what makes an emotional affair so dangerous is that it’s not clearly defined.

  • With a physical affair, you make a conscious choice to have sex with another person.
  • With an emotional affair, the relationship begins as a casual friendship and innocuously moves towards romantic entanglement

Believe it or not, it’s possible to cross the line of emotional cheating without realizing how far you’ve strayed. This is why so many women deny emotional cheating and sometimes even feel like they should be allowed to continue the “friendship” after it’s exposed.

In short, your wife doesn’t have any excuse for the way she treated you, but you can still find some small comfort in that she probably didn’t deliberately choose to have an emotional affair.

Work on You – Try to Enjoy Life Outside of Your Marriage

Right now, your wife’s emotional affair feels like an enormous burden. Many men describe it like an ominous, black cloud of pain and hopelessness hanging over you and your marriage.

You need to escape.

That doesn’t mean leaving the marriage or running away from your problems, but it does mean spending time on yourself. Get some time to yourself; be a little selfish.

On Husband Help Haven, I frequently discuss the idea that the best way to get your wife back is actually to let her go. This is a very similar idea… One of the best ways you can learn how to forgive an emotional affair is to work on recovering your lost self-esteem.

Make it your primary goal to look in the mirror and say “I am happy with ME, no matter what the rest of my life looks like”.

I highly recommend you read 9 Essential Traits of a Good Husband (get it at the bottom of this post) for more information about reclaiming your confidence and your position as the leader in your marriage.

Spend Time with Friends

Similar to the last tip, getting out and spending time with your friends can give you the clarity, confidence and peace of mind you need to get through this rough time in your marriage.

This will be different for everyone. For you it could mean…

  • Hitting the gym with your workout buddy
  • Grabbing a few drinks at your local pub
  • Going on a camping trip for some serious man-time

Whatever you do, the important thing is that you get out and be social. I guarantee it’ll help you gain perspective on your marriage and soothe the aches that come with emotional infidelity.

“But Stephen, I don’t have any friends to hang out with. What do I do?”

Enroll in a class of some sort. Guitar lessons, spinning classes and church gatherings are all great examples of opportunities to be social. The important thing is that you get away from the house and spend time enjoying yourself with other people.

Write It Out

One of the most powerful therapeutic tools you can use to aid in the process of forgiving an emotional affair is writing. Write out everything that you’re thinking, everything that you’re feeling, everything that you want to say to your wife.

The reason that journaling is so powerful is because it gives you an outlet. It lets you get everything off your chest and onto a piece of paper.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Write a pretend letter to your wife saying anything and everything you want to say to her. It’s okay to be mean here; just get it out.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Just start writing words, no matter what they are. Let the pen or the keyboard start flowing until the timer goes off.
  3. Write a third-person story about your marriage, describing what happened to you and why.

Seriously, even if you’re not a writer, do not underestimate how much this tip will help you forgive an emotional affair. Some things just need to be said, even if you’re only saying them to a piece of paper.

Embrace the Pain; Let Yourself Mourn

This one may seem odd, but hear me out:

Life comes in seasons. The most joy and personal growth you’ll ever experience will come after a period of seemingly endless unhappiness.

From pain comes happiness.

No matter what happens to your marriage, I can promise you this: in a year, two years or five years, you’ll look back and see that what you’re going through right now actually made your life better.

I know this is difficult to see right now, and maybe you don’t believe me. In fact, I’m willing to bet you don’t. But, the fact is that happiness means nothing without grief.

Don’t shy away from sadness. Attack it head-on, clinging to whatever faint glimmer of hope you can get your hands on. The pain that you’re experiencing right now is NOT permanent. You will move forward. You will forgive your wife’s emotional affair, and you will be better because of this time of trial.

Have a Vision for Your Marriage

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Right now your marriage feels like a complicated maze of emotions, mistrust and pain. Most men find themselves swaying back and forth like a pendulum between hopeful optimism and crushing depression or rage.

One of the best ways to combat this turbulence of emotion is to establish a vision for your future marriage.

Imagine what your perfect marriage looks like…

  • Imagine having a loving relationship with your wife, enjoying her constant adoration both physically and emotionally.
  • Imagine freedom from the looming mistrust and uncertainty.
  • Imagine being a confident man, never having to doubt your wife.
  • Imagine enjoying a long life and growing old with your woman.

It may even help you to get out a piece of paper and intricately describe what your dream marriage looks like. Then, you can literally keep this perfect marriage with you. Whenever you’re feeling down or unsure about where things are going, use this vision to refocus on exactly what you want.

This is goal-setting for your marriage. When you set goals, you’re much more likely to reach them because you always know what you’re working towards. Apply this principle to your marriage and to your life.

Don’t Be Afraid of Independent Therapy

As I’ve said plenty of times on Husband Help Haven, I really don’t like marriage counseling. I know for a fact that it doesn’t reliably save marriages, and for every good marriage counselor, it feels like there are 10 that have no idea what they’re doing.

However, while therapy won’t save a marriage, it does have its uses… Like helping you forgive your wife.

If you’re having serious trouble letting go of distrust for your wife, please consider independent therapy. Although you should definitely shop around to find someone you’re comfortable with… Get recommendations from friends and family so you don’t inadvertently rely on a quack.

I won’t say much more about this. You can probably tell for yourself whether or not you’d benefit from therapy. If you think you would, go for it.

Trust Comes Slowly, Don’t Be Surprised

This is one of the most important things to understand if you’re serious about forgiving an emotional affair.

Your wife shattered your trust. She didn’t just break it… It’s in hundreds of little pieces scattered all over the ground. You’re not going to be able to pick up the pieces and glue them back together in one day, one week, or even one month.

[ezcol_1half]It will likely take a year, if not years, for you to fully trust your wife again.


However, that doesn’t mean trust will never happen. You CAN trust your wife again; just don’t be surprised if you think you’ve crossed the threshold of trust only to find that you still have a long ways to go.

The journey back from an emotional affair is a long one. I truly hope that the resources in Emotional Affairs 101 will help make your journey as short as possible, but in the end it will still take lots of hard work and time.

If you have any further questions, then I recommend you check out this in-depth course:

Recommended Resource:
How to Forgive an Affair and Move Forward

No matter what you do from here, I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

You’re always welcome at Husband Help Haven!

With much manly love,
– Stephen

Stephen Waldo

Hi! My name is Stephen. I’m the guy behind Husband Help Haven. My mission here is to help as many men as possible become the best husbands they can be, and save as many marriages as possible along the way. Even though I’m not a marriage counselor, I want to encourage men everywhere to become better husbands, fathers and leaders. Full author bio


  • Hi Stephen,

    My wife has been having an emotional affair for the past month. Two days ago she left. I was shocked this came to a head so quickly, but it turns out she had been planning to leave for at least a week if not longer. Her parents were visiting for a week leading up to Mother’s Day. She let me try to woo her back and shower her with a full body massage, breakfast in Bed, and a set of sport headphones for her new workout routine. But she was planning on leaving the whole time. It was quite humiliating. We have two teenage children. She seems to think they are old enough that they will be fine. Who is this woman? I have no idea. Thoughts like this would have never even entered the brain of the woman I married and had shared my life with for 20+ years.

    It had gotten to the point where I was monitoring her cell phone call & text records in near real-time. I finally texted the other guy and told him to knock it off. This angered her to the point where, as she is packing to leave, tells me I can’t tell her who she can and can’t be friends with. I told her if we are to stay married, then I absolutely can. And if she valued the marriage she wouldn’t through away our marriage and family for “just a friend” who she has known since before we met but only recently started communicating with again. I think the guy was genuinely surprised by my text. I don’t think he thought he was doing anything wrong. But I wonder if he has been telling his girlfriend (assuming she actually exists) that he is talking to my wife once or twice a day for a month (minus Mother’s day, you know, for my sake. What a guy!).

    Anyway, we told the kids it was temporary (I could not stop her from involving them, so I tried to at least provide a consistent message). I have been desperately reading this site for the past two weeks, but I realize know that I couldn’t really make any use of the information until she left. It would be impossible for me to make the positive changes I need to make while living under the same roof.

    I also realize that my marriage is over. If we are to reconcile, it will need to be a whole new relationship. I actually want that. I want her to be happy. I want the kids to be happy. I want me to be happy. But that won’t come with her simply deciding to return home. My plan at this time is to stay patient, process my grief, be there for the kids and start making the positive changes I need in my life.

    Anyway, thanks for listening and I hope if another Husband is out there reading this, he can relate and realize that you are not alone. I always thought separation was doom. But I realize it is not certain doom, but certainly necessary.

    • A

      I replied to your other comment Steve, make sure you are making the changes for hte right reasons and focusing on what you can control. You can wait for your wife and still enforce boundaries, you’re right, it MUST be her choice to come back. And you are not obligated to wait forever. Take care of your kids.

      Much manly love,
      – Stephen

  • AnitaIngham

    My husband has been having an emotional affair for just over a year. It started off fairly innocently, she was a mutual friend but not some one I particularly warmed to. My husband had got a bit podgy, had la bit of upheaval at work, our kids were leaving home. Just mid life crisis I think. Anyway this woman introduced him to running and he lost loads of weight and actually became addicted to running and her. He followed her on FB, didn’t just used to read feeds but actually used to go on her page. This was even after running with her in the morning. When I told him that I didn’t like the relationship he kept expounding that she wa JUST A FRIEND. I tolerated it but never really liked it. When I discovered that they were texting, innocent stuff, I was really upset and even met with her and told her that my husband was building up an emotional attachment with her that I wasn’t happy about. She agreed not to text him but they still continued. Because he knew I didn’t like the relationship secrecy began to creep in. The final straw for me was when they met for an , innocent, walk when they knew I would be working to discuss the Bristol Half Marathon. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for me they were spotted. The reason he gave me for not telling me was that I would have been jealous. Pushing all the blame on to me. At that point I left home. Instead of sending me an apologetic message he sent me the nastiest e mail saying that he had been unhappy for the last 12 years, I had had friends and he hadn’t had any and now he had something( running and the friendship) I was trying to take it away. He could not seem to understand that our marriage and this relationship was incompatible. He then stopped seeing her but the kudos on strava, Facebook, texting , WhatsApp was still happening. I had read about how important it is to break all contact. He found this difficult to do initially and then was underhand and started following her again, at least on the Strava(running app) at that point I left home again. The shit then hit the fan. Their emotional affair was exposed and she was challenged by another woman as to how she could break the female code. He then stopped all contact with her but I had always said that I needed a period away from him so he could live his life and see how he got on. I’m here with my Mum now working on me. I’m doing a meditation course and generally looking after myself. I have decided that it was just Limerence, it may actually even just be an addiction to the running. She also told him how amazing he was and she even read up on his work. Creepy. I the worst thing for me was when he wrote about how amazing she was and how if he’s met her 30 years ago they might have been together now. I find that hard but then I read about Limerence. It’s unreal. I wish I could stop obsessing. He gets it now I think but it’s taken him a long time. Advice on how to get through the next period of time and sorry for rambling.

    • A

      Thank you for sharing. It is okay to be struggling right now, to be having a hard time. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Expect healing to take time, and trust to take time to rebuild. Try to remind yourself to take it one day at a time. Continue to seek to understand where HE is at and why HE did the things he did. Try to gain empathy for him, as you have been. Even as you face negative feelings for him, try to remind yourself that you are committed the marriage provided he is also committed.

      Overall, you’ve done a really good job here so far and I’m glad to see you knowing your boundaries and sticking to them. From the little you’ve shared, it does sound like you’re on a positive trajectory that has the potential to bring you back to a happy marriage. Keep moving forward, staying focused on what you can control and giving yourself grace as you go through this time of crisis.

  • I found out last week that my wife of 17 years is having a emotional affair for the last two months. When confronted she said it was a mistake and she delete her Facebook account and said she wamted to work on our marriage. Then tonight I find she has continued it and just switched to instagram. She has been lying to me all week. What do I do?

  • Sharissa Wagner

    I found out last month that my husband had an emotional affair with someone at work. By the time I found out about it, the affair was over with, lasting only a couple of weeks. He said it was a huge mistake and realized he couldn’t live without me and our infant daughter of (now) two months old. I want to forgive him, but I wonder if it’s too early to forgive now, as it’s been one month since I found out, but about two or three months since he’s ended it.

    I want to forgive him, but I don’t want to get hurt again. He said that he’s committed to me now and should have never got involved with this other woman. He said it was big mistake and has been apologizing every day over the issue. I told him I would have questions and need to process everything, but told him to keep loving me, telling me truth, and communicating with me and I will forgive him and rebuild trust. He never slept with this woman or even kissed her, but they shared a few hugs. Just thinking about the two of them together, even though it’s been over, makes me sick. I’ve been “through the ringer” a few times of being betrayed and I never thought my husband, of whom I have shared a beautiful friendship, bond, and rare relationship with, would betray me like he did.

    He does want to change and seems to be changing. The pain is so hurtful and my heart is still “bleeding”. Is it too soon for me to forgive him?

    • A

      Hi Sharissa, my advice on this is generally that forgiveness is a choice, however trust is not something you can force yourself to give. It is possible to forgive your husband and still not fully trust him again. However, trust can be rebuilt with a simple formula, and you’re on the right track… Time + Consistency + Trustworthiness = Trust

      Your husband needs time, and he needs consistent trustworthiness to rebuild your trust. You also need to accept that it is okay for this to be a process, and just cause it doesn’t happen over night doesn’t mean your marriage is ruined.

      One thing that may help you with this is to remember that emotional affairs are 100% an affair of fantasy. It is not about the other woman – at all.

      I’m going to email you an extra resource that I think might help you.

  • Your site is so helpful. I find myself in a situation that seems unique. My wife loves another man, but I can’t really say she’s had an affair, in the betrayal sense. She came home from a workshop on the other side of the country 5 years ago and told me she had met someone and felt a love for him more powerful than anything she’d felt for me. I asked, “did you have sex?” “ No, but I wanted to” was her reply. The ground fell away from under my feet. We had three kids, one who was barely more than one year old, still nursing. Thus began two months of utter hell for me, burning alive with grief. This attraction was awakening eroticism in my wife I’d never seen, and had the momentum of a freight train. I quickly realized I could stand in the way of where my wife’s heart and soul were calling her, and be run down, or I could stand aside, melt away into true unconditional love, and trust that if she’s mine she’d come back. This was excrucating. So nothing happened behind my back, except that I respected the differentiation she was forcing enough to not snoop into her emails. She went back out there, leaving me with the kids while I was working. Then she told me he was coming here, and he didn’t have to stay with us, but if not there would be consequences. I felt like I was in a life or death game of strategy. I knew that if he had to get a motel room she would stay there, and they could continue to escape the reality of her actual life- three young kids, a husband, a life already in progress. So I invited him to stay. This was awkward, intense. My wife left our bed at night to lie with him. He and I wondered if I’d stab him in his sleep. They took a trip to the coast, tried out sex, and it was disastrous. It pretty much ended there. I barely made it, but knew I could trust my instincts that if I drew a hard line I’d lose her , but if I unconditionally loved her, even while she was trying out lousy sex with another man, I might stand a chance. With him gone, We set about working on our marriage and having the best sex of our lives together, but busy life got in our way a lot, and we slowly reverted to talking mostly logistics about the kids and the bills. 5 Years later he called, they hit it off, within weeks she’d bought a plane ticket. She left with me a bit of a basket case, having drawn the line that I wouldn’t do this again, then realizing the effect my line would have on my kids. I found I couldn’t raise the stakes high enough. She was willing to move out, or for me to, but it wasn’t going to stop her. In the end I felt like I swallowed poison each day to protect my kids, to try to keep their home unbroken. She left saying she had no intention of leaving me, and returned saying our marriage was over, and she would pursue a life with the other man. I was of course devastated, enraged, but again sought to protect my children. I just didn’t believe her. It’s like she’d been brainwashed, again. Now and then we’d look at each other and actually see, as if lifting a blurry veil, but mostly she was hostile to me. She moved into her pottery studio out back. Well, three months and mind melting grief later, she went back out to the west coast to be with him and it all blew up in their faces again. She came home and hugged me and said for the first time she’d really missed me while she was there. Now we’re trying again to rebuild, to mutually forgive. It’s a shaky process, and I don’t know if we’ll make it. So much damage done, and nothing fits back the way it was. I’m writing to bring up the point that taking a hard stand, refusing to be around as a support network, sounds right, yet gets so complicated with kids involved. Moving out or kicking her out is life long trauma for children. Yet swallowing the poison to protect them has nearly put me in the psyche ward. I’m interested in any feedback on my actions, as I found that when I took my kids well being into account I had to put aside my own need to cut her off so she’d have to face some stark reality. I found myself in a position of not being able to be the man I wanted to be in relation to my wife, one that doesn’t take shit from her or anyone, and feeling instead that I had to be the man my kids needed me to be, able to endure unbelievable stress and anguish to keep their family together.

  • Stephen,

    My wife has admitted to having an emotional affair for over 6 months. With a man she has never come face to face with. Its been via phone calls, and alot of texts. She wants to end it, but claims she is to entangled with working for this man that she can’t do it easily. How much time should i give her to get this stopped ?

    • A

      I’m afraid that’s a question that only you can answer. Some men set a pretty quick deadline. Others set no deadline at all. I think the right answer depends a lot on where your heart is at. Generally though, I encourage men to be more patient with emotional affairs than physical affairs, offering lots of forgiveness. Emotional affairs, while just as painful as a physical affair, tend to be easier to recover from than their physical counter parts because both spouses can learn to understand the addiction-like nature of them.

      That being said, again, there’s no definite answer. Think about how long you can endure this and set a deadline if you need to. If you can find it in your heart to offer indefinite forgiveness (provided the affair doesn’t escalate further), great. You know yourself and your wife’s situation.

      Much manly love,
      – Stephen

  • Veronica

    Hey I read your tips and am woman my husband is having an emotional affair with woman. His addicted to porn, drinking and smoking his trying to spot his been off it for two weeks now.

    But he does not want to stop talking to this woman his struggling to stop. His become secretive does not allow me to touch is phone he drinks to much. Am in pain have lost my confidence what I do? can I apply this steps even if am not the one cheating? ????????????????????

    • A

      To answer your question, yes, you can and should apply these steps for forgiveness… They are intended for the faithful spouse, whether man or woman (although written for men).

      You are in a very difficult spot Veronica, because your husband has multiple obstacles that are all compounding on each other to make things worse than any one of them would be on their own. It is likely near impossible for him to clearly see the true consequences of his actions and the way they are affecting his perspective on life and the marriage. The alcohol makes it easier to indulge in porn, the guilt from porn and alcohol make him want to escape to the EA, and then all of those together naturally pull him away from the marriage even if he never consciously decides he’s unhappy with it.

      At this point, your goal cannot be to fix or change your husband. There are simply too many things going on here that it will be tough for him to really even hear you right now. He has to work through this stuff on his own, he has to want to change on his own.

      My advice right now is to really take care of yourself and focus on keeping yourself stable. Settle in for a bumpy road, because these problems are not going away overnight. Even if he woke up tomorrow and decided to stop everything, relapses in at least one area seem likely. See a counselor if you need to; they can help you develop good self-care. As frustrating and painful as it might be, the reality is that you can’t change your husband’s actions right now, but you can at least partially control how you let them affect you. Only you know where your limit is.

      Good luck.

  • Can emotional affair be healed?

    • A

      Yes! It takes forgiveness and a rebuilding of trust. You can make a decision to forgive, but trust will always take time no matter what, even after forgiveness. Time + Trustworthiness + Consistency = Trust.

      The saying is cliche but true – time heals all wounds. In this case, as long as the emotional affair is truly done with, then you can start the healing process.

  • A

    Perhaps she is saying that she is mad at herself that she let herself get into such a situation? I could understand that. After all, no matter the temptation, no matter what your marriage was like, ultimately the decision to stray from the marriage lies on your wife’s shoulders.

    I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but that would be the easiest answer I can see from the limited info I have.

  • Two weeks ago my wife came to me and confessed to having an emotional affair with another married man. It had only been going on for a short time, and she felt terrible about it, cut it off and asked for my forgiveness. She seemed so genuinely sorry that I forgave her without much effort.

    Today I discovered that about a week after she brought all this out, she sought him out again. I honestly can’t figure out how I can ever come to trust her again. I love her, and don’t want our relationship to end, but I have no idea how to move forward. She claims that she just talks to him because she’s “bored”, but he’s been trying to convince her to move into the “physical” affair territory, and she continues to talk to him.

    • I also had this same issue with my wife 6 weeks ago. She promised me that it was only flirty chat which lead to a few messages which ended up getting heavy on his part but she told me that it was over before it began. I have just caught her a couple of day ago texting him again saying how she can’t stop thinking about him and she’s never felt like this before about anyone. When confronted she admits to meeting him 6 weeks ago and kissing and both wanting to have sex but deciding it wouldn’t go anywhere and would cause to much pain. I have two children and for the last 3 months have been helping her through quite serious depression and what I think was a mid-life crisis. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her for this and the lies and feel myself nearing the edge of a precipice that I feel I’m going to plunge into. I’m not sleeping or eating and am concerned that I won’t be able to keep my small business going. My advice to you is make sure the link to this guy is completely severed and that he knows your aware of what is going on. I hope the pain your are enduring isn’t as severe as what I’m going through because I’m not sure how much more I can take.

      • I am also a woman seeking to forgive a man from emotional infidelity that lasted months. He was attached to the hip with his phone and became very distant and i was the receiving end up anger and blame. I thought it was worked related stress or financial crisis and i was a stay at home mom. I still love him regardless of this infidelity although he is convinced he never cheated but the betrayal and hurt is very real. We are in the recovery phases now and i am now noticing he has done this twice during my postpartum months with both our boys. The first was an ex girlfriend, the other was a “friend” from his past. I don’t know what that says about him but i need to work on myself because being at home all the time it does feel like an endless pendulum. A never ending spiral that keeps my head spinning and my heart torn over and over again. I am angered by the so called “friend” just the thought of her sends my body temp soaring into a flaming torch. I often ask myself why did he let her come between us and why was he so willing to trade his family, his sons and myself for 1 empty fantasy that isn’t even guaranteed to last. Our oldest son is 6 and youngest is 10 months.

        • A

          I’m so sorry that you’ve had to live through this. Postpartum months are perhaps some of the hardest months of parenting, and to have an affair on top of that is just… Well, it’s pretty bad. I am very impressed by your dedication to your marriage and family and I commend you for staying committed and seeking to forgive.

          The truth is, forgiveness is a choice, but trust is a process. It is very difficult to CHOOSE to genuinely trust your husband again. He needs to earn it. You can, however, CHOOSE to forgive him. You do that by making the decision to pay the emotional price for his misdeeds. Forgiveness is free for the forgiven and costly to the forgiver. You are the only one who can choose to pay that cost; no one can force it on you.

          Either way, be honest with him and yourself and do what you need to do to prevent this from happening again. That means he NEEDS to see it. Trust can be rebuilt, but not if he never tries to rebuild it. He cannot go on thinking that those “friendships” were perfectly appropriate. Have you seen the emotional affair quiz? Or have you tried flipping the script, asking him how he would feel if you had an identical relationship with another man while he was at work? If he would be happy with that “friend” if you were telling him the things I’m assuming he told those women?

    • Zac, you need to make it clear they need to cease contact, period, forever. Call him if you need to, but it needs to stop or your marriage is over.

      • A

        You’re absolutely right Paulo. Contact does need to cease. However, I think Zac can try a softer approach first, but ultimately she does need to stop contact with him. Gently try to get her to understand that this is an inappropriate relationship that can’t continue. Ask her, how would she feel if you spent time privately talking to a woman who openly was trying to sleep with you, even knowing that you were married. How would she feel if you promised her that you’d stop talking to this woman, then went back to her because you were “bored” with your marriage? Unless she is willfully oblivious, this will help her empathize.

        All that being said, if she continues to be repentant, if she does have an attitude like she WANTS the marriage to work, even if this other urge is pulling her away, be patient. Emotional affairs function almost like an addiction., and some relapse is not the end of the world if she comes back to the marriage. On the other hand, if she refuses to end contact, or gets to a point where she thinks she should be allowed to have the “friendship” even against your wishes and the obvious inappropriateness, that’s a bigger problem that warrants a bigger reaction.

  • I am having an emotional affair with a married man

    • A

      You should stop interacting with this man immediately, and you should tell him it’s because he is having an emotional affair and he needs to return to his marriage. Emotional affairs destroy marriages. The fantasy of what you could have with this man is just that – a fantasy. An actual romantic relationship would not be fulfilling, and it will never live up to whatever you’ve built it up to be in your mind. There are better men out there for you than a married man who is willing to go to another woman when the going gets tough in his marriage. He needs to figure out his own issues, and his relationship with you is allowing him to avoid them. If you continue to be this man’s emotional affair, you will have the weight of a broken family and marriage on your shoulders. Cease contact immediately.

  • Dear Stephen,

    I am not a man seeking to forgive his wife of an emotional affair. I am a woman and I am not married. I do however have a boyfriend and I too have been recently crushed by the incomprehensible weight of his hidden secrets and lies when I caught him in his emotional affair. So far it has been an aweful emotional roller-coaster between thinking I can pull through and we can work it out, and complete dispair from the back-stabbing pain.

    I needed/need help forgiving him for straying and forgiving myself for pushing him away and it has been beyond difficult. Your article is the first I have read that has made any sense as it has shed light on a simple healing process. I will share this with my boyfriend in the hopes that we can both take away from it. Thank you for your advice. I think it will make a huge difference.

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