Emotional cheating is often associated with trust being diminished in a relationship. While not analogous to physical cheating, Jane E. Brody of The New York Times states connecting with a non-partner on an emotional level as comparable to flirting and engaging in the unsanctioned consumption of pornography. To many of us, this is wrong.
I believe it’s not wrong.
Emotional cheating, to me, is a word used to misrepresent the act of confiding in people. The belief that we, as human beings, are expected to only entrust one person with our personal commentary is idealistic. Humans are social creatures capable of multiple, complex relationships with varying levels of intimacy. To deny this is to deny a trait inherent in ourselves.
Two years ago, I was in a long-standing relationship. My partner was exceedingly capable of forming friendships wherever she went. I became accustomed to her aptness in speaking to strangers. In fact, her confidence inspired me to become more social and charismatic with my peers. When we both began university in Phoenix, our relationship began to slowly erode. We constantly bickered and refused to adapt to our new lifestyles. It was only natural — people change in college.
Soon, my partner became more invested in other relationships. She often confided in close friends, family and even ex-partners. I felt unimportant and that it was my partner’s engagement in emotional cheating that was the root cause. I felt betrayed.
However, I was not betrayed, and my partner had not cheated on me. My own insecurities within our relationship had an easy answer for the betrayal: emotional cheating. However, it was not wrong for my partner to confide in others.
I entrusted my worries to family, friends and also ex-partners. I held my current partner to a standard I refused to attain due to my enjoyment of interacting personally with other people. I became a hypocrite.
This is not to say a lack of trust cannot be hurtful. A spouse speaking to an ex-partner about personal matters can be jarring.
At the end of the day, interacting with others is justified. The relationships we form throughout our lives should not limit the way we engage with others. We should not allow ourselves to become enthralled in the petty belief that speaking plainly with friends detracts from our engagement with loving partners. If it is bothersome when your significant other speaks to someone who is not you, it is most likely insecurity derived from a failing relationship rather than a lack of commitment on their part.
Emotional cheating is a bandage of a label slapped hastily over a preexisting wound.