Not all affairs involve sneaking around and hooking up. Developing a deep connection with someone other than your partner, known as emotional infidelity, can be just as harmful to a relationship, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s often harder to spot. In fact,Ã‚Â most men and women would consider a partnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s emotional infidelity cheating, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re less likely to think it crosses the line when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the ones doing it, according to a new survey by Huffington Post and YouGov.
In a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 60 percent of people said that it would be considered cheating if their partner developed a strong emotional connection with someone else. But when the situation was flippedÃ¢â‚¬”and a separate group of 1,000 adults were asked if it would be considered cheating if they were the ones who developed a deep emotional connection with someone other than their partnerÃ¢â‚¬”only 50 percent of people thought it was cheating. Ã‚Â Surprisingly, gender had a big impact on perspective: In the first survey, 70 percent of women and 50 percent of men thought of their partnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actions as cheating.
So why is it cheating if your partner does it, but no big deal if you do it? Ã¢â‚¬Å“We judge ourselves by our intentions, we judge others by their actions,Ã¢â‚¬Â says relationship expert Mira Kirshenbaum, author of I Love You But I DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Trust You. Essentially, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re less likely to consider it cheating because you know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on inside your head. But when it comes to your partner, all you see are their actionsÃ¢â‚¬”and you assume the worst about their motivations.
Women were particularly vulnerable to this perspectiveÃ¢â‚¬”56 percent viewed it as cheating if they were the ones emotionally fooling around (compared to 70 percent who said the same when their partners were doing it), while the numbers for men were 44 percent when they were getting super close to someone else and 50 percent when their S.O.s were doing it. While itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not clear why this discrepancy exists, Kirshenbaum notes that women tend to feel that they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cheat or wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let it lead to sex, while they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always trust their partners to act the same way.
But even if you feel like you can trust yourself, it can be dangerous to assume that your platonic relationships are totally benign. Here, a few signs that you may be putting your romantic relationship at risk:
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Looking for Something Outside Your Bond ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s normal to vent to a friend (male or female) when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going through a rough patch with your partner, but if you find yourself turning to them for something thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s missing in your own relationshipÃ¢â‚¬”like trust, companionship, intimacyÃ¢â‚¬”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a red flag, says Kirshenbaum.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Hiding it from Your Partner You might think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the clear if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been transparent about your friendship. But be cautious if you find yourself hiding certain conversations or feelings from your partner. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If anything is going on with another person that you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel comfortable sharing with your partner, then you are edging into emotional infidelity,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Kirshenbaum.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Worried it Might Be Cheating When it comes to this hard-to-define form of infidelity, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s often best to trust your gut. If it seems like youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re close to emotionally cheating, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re probably already there, says Kirshenbaum. The bottom line: Look for the obvious signs. If you have any romantic feelings for someone other than your partner, address it with your S.O. or a relationship therapist (if you have one) before it goes any further.
photo: Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock More from Women's Health:
Why Both Men and Women Are Straying from Marriage
How to Prevent Cheating in Your MarriageÃ‚Â
Men Who Cheat