One way or another we’ve all known or heard about a cheater. Maybe they have a “side piece,” maybe they’re dating multiple people, or maybe they’re having the commonly heard of one night stand. But the emotional cheater is something that’s a little more rare to come into contact with. And if you haven’t yet, consider yourself lucky!
What is the Emotional Cheater?
The psychologist Seth Meyers who writes for Psychology Today, defines emotional cheating as:
Behaviour that one partner engages in that fosters emotional intimacy in the here-and-now with someone else, and sometimes promotes the possibility of sexual intimacy in the future. Many people maintain secret or semi-secret friendships when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction, while others may not be interested but encourage others’ interest in them for the sake of boosting their own ego or distracting themselves from a sense of boredom with their partner.
It’s easy to define ANY kind of cheating as wrong. But what happens when you’re the one dealing with the emotional cheater, and not as the girlfriend? Instead, being what most consider as,”the other woman.” What are we supposed to do with the emotional cheater?
I know from my own personal experience with a guy we’ll call Caleb, it wasn’t easy. I spent plenty of time blaming his girlfriend. I didn’t put the onus for what was happening on him. I convinced myself what he was doing, and what I was allowing him to do, was perfectly okay. Hell, I didn’t even take accountability for my actions.
What makes the Emotional Cheater Different?
- Difficulty hating him. Why? Simple. By conventional terms he hasn’t technically cheated. It’s so easy to blame his girlfriend for being an obstacle, and not viewing what he’s doing as wrong!
- The “good guy” facade. Wow can you imagine having a guy like you and not making a move? He doesn’t try anything physical because he’s just interested in getting to know you. Sure, this sounds like a modern day fairy-tale, but this isn’t what the emotional cheater is. Ladies, we make him out to be the good guy because we rationalize, “wow he likes me and hasn’t acted on it so he doesn’t cheat.” No, this simply has to do with him having a conscious. This is NOT a reason to sympathize with him, and make him out to be the “good guy.”
- Difficulty to end things. Chances are the emotional cheating grew out of a friendship, and so it’s tough to put an end to things. You don’t want to lose the friendship. You don’t want to lose those late night car talks, the excitement of the new album your favourite band put out, or the thoughtful Christmas gift of the ugly Christmas sweater with the ducks on it, because he knows how you LOVE ducks. And so you have a difficult deciding rather or not the emotional strain is worth keeping the “friend.”
Really? Are you two really just friends? Don’t lie to yourself.
What to do with the Emotional Cheater?
Get the hell away from them at all costs! That’s what you do.
Now, being someone who’s dealt with the emotional cheater, I’ve decided to share my four steps to get out of the pseudo relationship you’re in as soon as possible, and hopefully before it turns messy.
STEP 1: Talk to him and clarify you’re not okay with being the girl he’s emotionally with but won’t make any changes to stop the emotional cheating for or end his current relationship.
STEP 2: Once he tells you he won’t leave his girlfriend (if he agrees to leave her stop reading and prepare yourself for the emotional rollercoaster ride ahead) and ENFORCE that the emotional cheating and pseudo-dating MUST end!
STEP 3: If he verbally agrees to step two, but then continues to emotionally cheat, distance yourself. Block, delete, cut off any form of contact. This step will be one of the more difficult ones. Because you’ve established this friendship, not only will you be losing the person you want to be with, you’re losing a close friend. But this is a necessary step, the emotional cheater is tough to shake off.
STEP 4: Start moving on. This is a long and rigorous step with a lot of ups and downs. Prepare to love him, hate him, hate yourself, blame his girlfriend, hate him, feel sorry for his girlfriend, hate him, and feel sorry for yourself. After that gruelling roller coaster, you’ll start to forget about him and realize you deserve more, and so does she! The girls night outs are helpful, stay away from rom-coms, do use ice cream, work out so you don’t feel bad about eating the ice cream and cozy up with a good book. Take your mind off him with things that will bring you up, not help destroy you.
I’ve personally dealt with the emotional cheater, and all four steps are exactly what I did. The steps seem clear cut, but they’re really not. I had a lot of emotional episodes in between and throughout, but don’t let that stop you. Just because the steps are more difficult than they seem, in the end you’ll realize just how toxic this person was for you. Step 3 was the most difficult for me. I blocked him, and then unblocked him for a day, caved, sent him a message of “hey, how’re you,” and then the moment he replied I realized what a mistake I made. He was instantly blocked all over again. Over a year later, and with the help of good friends and lots of journaling I got over Caleb, and I am now in a very happy and committed relationship.
Is emotional cheating worse than any other kind? What’re your thoughts on this?
Have hope, and hold out for that raw romance.