The most insidious type of cheating isn't physical. Here are 9 signs your partner could be guilty.

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  • It’s hard to define an emotional affair.
  • Licensed marriage and family therapist Sheri Meyers wrote the book “Chatting or Cheating,” in which she lists some signs that your partner might be having an emotional affair.
  • Those signs include wanting more time and space to themselves and getting defensive.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An “emotional affair” is hard to define – it can be tricky to know if you’re having one, and perhaps even trickier to figure out if your partner is.

That said, there are a few red flags to look out for if you suspect that your partner has romantic feelings for someone else, even if they haven’t acted on them physically. In her 2012 book, “Chatting or Cheating,” licensed marriage and family therapist Sheri Meyers outlines some key indicators that your partner might be involved in an emotional affair.

Read more:
12 science-backed facts about cheating that all couples should know

Below, Business Insider has rounded up nine of those warning signs. Remember: Just because you recognise some of these behaviours in your partner doesn’t necessarily mean they have been unfaithful.

But if you’re really starting to get worried, it’s a good idea to articulate your concerns to your partner and give them a chance to explain themselves.

Your partner is spending more time on the computer or phone.

A sudden strong attachment to digital devices could be a red flag.

Meyers writes: “Your partner may ‘stiffen’ when you enter the room, or put the phone away suddenly. They may have increased activity or text messaging, but are more difficult to get ahold of when out of the house.”

Your partner wants more space and time to themselves.


If your partner really is having an emotional affair, they may try to distance themselves from you.

“They want to do their own thing more often and become indifferent to doing things together and offer excuses about not planning or committing to future trips, vacations, and family visits,” Meyers writes.

When you argue, your partner’s fallback position is about your relationship ending.

During conflicts, your partner may say something like, “What would you do if our relationship ended?” or perhaps something even more alarming like, “If anything ever happened to us, I would always love you like a friend.”

“In general,” Meyers writes, “they seem overly negative about your relationship,” as opposed to interested in trying to repair it.

When you ask your partner about their friendship with another person, they get defensive or evasive.

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At some point, you may start to gently probe to see what’s really happening between your partner and another person. Notice if your partner gives a suspiciously curt – or lengthy – response.

Here’s Meyers take: “They offer short, sharp responses when you ask them seemingly simple questions about their ‘friend’ or associate, or they over-explain when there is no need and their stories don’t quite add up.”

Your partner is changing how they look and dress when they leave the house.

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You might be confused as to why your partner is bringing along a change of clothes that aren’t for the gym.

Or, Meyers says, you might realise that your partner has been trying to “fix perceived insecurities by losing weight, working out, buying new clothes, changing hair, and applying makeup more often.”

Your partner gets overcritical about your appearance and behaviour.


You may get the sense that your partner doesn’t hold you in such high esteem anymore.

Meyers says your partner may start “criticising things about you that he or she once found attractive and appealing.”

Your partner’s sexual interest and passion is different.

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Your partner’s sexual behaviour toward you might fall into one of two extremes.

On the one hand, Meyers writes, it “may seem like your partner is going through the motions, or seems less available, affectionate or intimate with you.”

On the other hand, your partner may suddenly seem more sexual or want to try something new in bed.

Both situations can be warning signs that they’re involved with someone else.

Your partner may increasingly reference a third party.


Meyers has noticed that, when your partner’s having an emotional affair, they “may spark conversations asking you something along the lines of, ‘Do you believe that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time?'” And it might not be a hypothetical question.

Your gut is telling you there may be an attraction between your partner and their ‘friend.’

Again, your partner’s behaviour might follow one of two extreme patterns, Meyers says.

Either they’re changing the way they act whenever the other person is around, or they “may criticise this other person, trying to make you think that type of individual would never be of interest to them.”

Ultimately, don’t dismiss your intuitions about your partner’s behaviour. They aren’t necessarily prophetic, but they’re certainly worth exploring.

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