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Recognizing and Investigating Emotional Infidelity

Recognizing and Investigating Emotional Infidelity

What is Emotional Infidelity?

Emotional affairs often comprise of a situation in which the emotions of one partner are dedicated to a source outside of the relationship and, because of this, they become emotionally unavailable and the relationship suffers. This often involves an individual maintaining an intimate relationship (outside their committed relationship) that doesn’t include physical touch.

While affairs of a physical, sexual nature are more easily recognizable, emotional affairs can often have an extreme impact on a relationship because they involve an extra level of lying and betrayal. Sexual infidelity can be purely physical with little to no emotions involved depending on the situation. Emotional infidelity betrays the unique emotional bond that defines the health of a traditional romantic relationship. An intimate relationship involves a person sharing their desires, fears, and victories. When one partner starts sharing these details with someone else first, the original relationship starts breaking down.

The challenge for investigators is identifying emotional infidelity when pursuing a cheating spouse case. Since physical intimacy isn’t involved, can infidelity still be proven? Is it something you should bring to your client’s attention? The answers to these questions are explored below as well as telltale signs that your subject is emotionally cheating on their spouse.

Signs that your Subject is Emotionally Cheating

When conducting surveillance or research, there are common signs that a person is having an emotional affair:

  • A secret relationship: One of the biggest factors that separates a normal friendship from an emotional affair is whether they keep the relationship a secret from their spouse. Those pursuing emotional infidelity will often keep the time they spend with a certain person a secret.
  • Long conversations alone: Someone having an emotional affair will value time spent with this person alone above almost everything else, which often results in...
  • Ditching regular activities to be with their subject of interest: This could look like leaving work early or not showing up at all. It also means spending significantly less time at home with their spouse.
  • Giving or receiving gifts: Since they are invested in this outside relationship, they will want to invest their time and money into it. They will also feel validated if the other person gives them a gift and will desire to impress them with gifts as well.
  • Constant communication: A person participating in emotional infidelity will constantly want to talk to the new person garnering their attention. This could look like regular texts and emails back and forth. These conversations will also likely include intimate things usually shared with a spouse, like concerns or victories in their life. They could also include complaints about the spouse.
  • The person is an old friend: Often, emotional infidelity relationships form when old feelings are rekindled. It’s common for emotional affairs to happen between ex-partners or long-lost friends.

Evidence of Emotional Infidelity

It’s relatively easy to prove the existence of sexual infidelity. You can use pictures, videos, and communications legally obtained from electronic devices. While it may not be as glaringly obvious, the same methods can be used to document emotional infidelity. You can show the amount of time that the subject spent alone with this other person and how they spoke with one another and interacted while together. The question is whether you should, especially since many don’t consider it infidelity if sex wasn’t involved.

Ultimately, being honest with your clients is the best way to show them the respect and dignity they deserve. After you do your job faithfully and find evidence that their spouse is being emotionally unfaithful, it is your responsibility to reveal that evidence. Emotional infidelity is still a form of deception and should be treated as such even if it isn’t as dramatic as a sexual affair. It’s also important to note that emotional infidelity can and often does lead to sexual infidelity if it’s allowed to continue. A professional private investigator can gather evidence of lying and can use surveillance to find out how far an affair has gone.


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