Emotional Cheating: Is It Really So Bad?

You probably wouldn’t dream of having a physical affair. But what about emotional cheating? Isn’t it a bit of a grey area?


Sure, maybe your head’s turned now and again when you see a hot guy or gal get on the elevator, but realistically, most of us remain loyal to our spouse. After all, we know the grass isn’t greener on the other side, no matter how appealing the grass looks.

Avoiding a physical affair is actually pretty easy. Stop thinking with your libido and just don’t do it. It’s black and white: Don’t have sex with someone else.

What is Emotional Cheating?

Emotional cheating is a slippery slope. We might go out with our buddies, coworkers, or girlfriends and end up venting and bitching about our significant other. Then later, when we’re home with our spouse, we’re cold, distant, and disengaged. We argue. We give them the cold shoulder or the hidden middle finger.

You start to feel like you’re a different person when you’re at home than when you’re at work—and you start to prefer work.

It happens frequently. We’re confident at the office. We’re successful and we know what we’re doing. We went to college and grad school to learn to do our jobs and we’re good at them. When it comes to social and emotional growth, though, most of us missed the college-level education and some are still working on our GED.

It turns out, relationships and social-emotional connections can be even more difficult to grow than our intellect. We’ve worked on honing and fine-tuning our work skills and our knowledge base, but we may have ignored our emotional intelligence. We study hard and get a top-notch education, yet we still walk away emotional idiots because we don’t know how to grow emotionally.

Emotional intelligence is just as important and vital to our leadership skills and growth as our intellect. So many leadership training courses are offered in areas of emotional growth and understanding because it’s so key to our ability to be effective leaders and managers. It’s something we have to want to learn and embrace before we can “get it.”

So, while we’re good at our job skills, we’re not as evolved when it comes to expressing our emotions and needs in our romantic relationships, or meeting the needs of our partner. Unfortunately, this leads us to a path where we feel inadequate and bad.

Rather than addressing the problem, we avoid and distance ourselves. We close ourselves off to our spouse and look to others to stroke our emotional side.

Here’s where the emotional cheating comes in…

Maybe you’ve found a friend at work you can confide in. While you’d never “go there” with them (and by there, I mean to the bedroom), you might find they become the person you’re most connecting with on an emotional level. You find yourself looking forward to spending time with them. Maybe you’re attracted to them or maybe you won’t admit it, but you’re at least attracted to their personality.

You’re entering a danger zone. If you value your marriage and want things to work out with your spouse, just don’t do it. Put the kibosh on any dalliances, roll up your sleeves, and do the work required to figure out why you’re getting your emotions stroked by someone else.

You can have friends, but friends are different. An emotional affair happens when your friend connects with you emotionally and intimately in a way you aren’t getting from your significant other. Chances are, it’s a connection and a way of interacting that would make your spouse uncomfortable if he or she were standing there in the room.

How To Stop Emotionally Cheating

Truth is, there’s no such thing as a fairytale romance. So no matter how sexually attracted or emotionally connected we are to another person, our social and emotional intelligence helps us realize these feelings come and go. Fleeting physical attraction isn’t worth throwing away a marriage or long-term commitment, right? Well, the same goes for over-the-top emotional connections.

People rarely jump from a physical affair into a healthy relationship. Why? Because it isn’t about the sex. While we all need human touch, an affair is usually about something else. So once we get over the physical excitement, we discover our deepest yearnings and needs still aren’t being met, because we haven’t done the work and we don’t know how to express what we really, truly want.

Sound familiar? Most of the time, emotional cheating works the exact same way.

The good news is you can figure out how to reengage in your marriage before it’s too late and something physical happens with another person. Keep in mind, it’s not often just about sex or need to rekindle the fires with your spouse. (Although, let’s face it: it doesn’t hurt!)

It’s about getting down to the heart of what’s missing in your marriage or relationship and discovering what you need to work on.

Before you begin any conversation, always assume goodwill. One of our “rules of engagement” is to assume goodwill on the part of the other party—and it’s true. You can safely assume your spouse isn’t out to make you miserable. They don’t hate you and they aren’t hoping your marriage falls apart. Chances are, your spouse or partner is probably wondering how to reconnect with you as well. They’re probably asking themselves why you’ve been so damned distant.

The first step is to have a conversation and get out what you’re feeling. This conversation might not be easy—it might even be downright miserable. You might hear things you’re doing that hurt your spouse and he or she might tell you you’re being a jerk. It might end up being a fight rather than just a conversation—and that’s okay.

Instead of fighting against each other, starting these tough conversations means you’re opening up and fighting FOR your relationship. Even if it’s a fight about how to reconnect and things get nasty and ugly, at least you’re moving in the direction of figuring out how to make things work. You’re expressing your needs and they’re expressing theirs.

We call this battling towards bliss, and once you start down that path, you’re moving in the right direction.

“Dedicating to being your best and living your vision takes courage as well as skill and practice. Dedicating requires that you face your fears as well as embrace your joy, that you become even stronger and more loving as you create even stronger and more powerful, loving partnerships.” –The Heart of the Fight

Where to Draw the Line

As for your emotional connections with your friends and coworkers, take a step back. We all engage with different people on different levels. I have some buddies I can talk to about subjects that bore Judith to tears, and she has the same. No one person can be everything to someone else.

The truth is, though, Judith knows who these people are and how intimate our conversations are. If she was standing in the room, she might be bored, but she wouldn’t be uncomfortable, and that’s where we draw the line when we commit to someone else.

If you’re emotionally connecting with your significant other and using conflict to move your relationship closer, rather than driving a wedge between you, chances are you’re on the right track. Realize you’re going to have to work on your emotional intelligence before you can evolve within your relationship, let alone outside of your relationship. Once the two of you get on the same page and start getting down to the heart of the fight, you’ll end up even closer.

For more on how you can energize your relationships, connect more deeply to your significant other, and bring out your very best self, please join us for our upcoming More Life Training.

About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why Couples Fight
About Money Problems

What’s one of the most common couples’ arguments? You guessed it: money problems. We call it “dueling over dollars.”


These financial feuds range from, “You’re such a tightwad!” to “What were you thinking? We can’t afford that!” When we mix money and relationships, it can seem hard to get on the same financial page as our partner.

(We discuss this and 14 other common couples’ fights in our book, The Heart of the Fight—available now.)

Why Couples Fight About Money: It Runs Deep

What are the real reasons we fight about money? Some of us have a fear there will never be enough. This scarcity mentality can cause us to be tightfisted with our budget. Perhaps you often witnessed your mother or father struggle to pay the bills, so this concept of ‘never having enough’ was deeply ingrained into you from the time you were a child.

On the other hand, maybe money came easy to you, so you never had to worry about it. Consequently, you still don’t sweat it much (but your partner does, much to your frustration). Or perhaps spending money and shopping is a soft addiction you use to self-soothe and zone out rather than deal with problems. I’ve seen couples where one member is so driven to spend money that he or she attempts to completely hide it from their partner, even going as far as to intercept credit card statements (indicating a larger communication problem).

Whatever your views on money, it goes much deeper than simply enjoying shopping or being fiscally conservative. Our “dueling over dollars” (like many common couples fights) is tied into our yearnings. Perhaps you yearn to be socially affirmed, so you want to “keep up with the Joneses,” or perhaps you’re yearning to be appreciated. Perhaps you yearn for a sense of security and stability.

Our yearnings stem from our early primal instinct to always be sure we have enough and our fear of scarcity. Because money is attached to our very survival and our ability to acquire food, shelter, and even a mate, these primal impulses take over, sending off major alarms in our brain, which can cause some real knock-down-drag-out fights.

Couples Fighting: A Lack of Honesty and Trust = Serious Symptoms

One of the common undercurrents of financial feuds is the sense that one partner isn’t being completely honest with the other. If your spouse withdraws money from your account or hides purchases from you, there’s definitely deception going on. Similarly, if you find out your spouse is complaining about how broke you are, but your bank account is flush, you might feel they’re withholding information or vying for control.

At the true heart of these financial miscommunications is a lack of trust. It has nothing to do with a few dollars spent or unspent, and it can’t be resolved with a half-hearted promise to “do better next time.”

We call these broken promises “deception perception” fights. These can be extremely painful fights, but to really understand the conflict, the couple must drill down to the heart of the matter and realize what they’re really, truly fighting about.

After these areas of insecurity, distrust, and deception are unveiled, it can be very healing for couples to address the core of the problem. While deception and broken promises are painful to discuss and discover, they can open up the pathway to greater understanding and communication in the future.

Understanding & Identifying Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are formed when we’re very young. The majority of our personality is actually formed by age 6 or 7. These early beliefs are often based on our limited perceptions as children. We’re not able to discern that Dad’s anger had to do with a rough day at the office or that Mom’s stress wasn’t directed at us. As children, we’re the center of our own universe. Each experience comes in, gets processed, and forms the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

As we get older, we add in societal beliefs and practices, plus the way we perceive our role within our social circle. Cumulatively, these experiences add up to our core beliefs, which can also be limiting beliefs. For example, when we feel we need to hold ourselves back or suppress our emotions, a limiting core belief might be the root. Fear of taking risks can stem from a belief of inadequacy, or a belief that we’re “not enough” or “too much.”

Similarly, fears about money often stem from a belief that the world is a place of scarcity and there is not enough to go around. If you didn’t have enough food, your needs weren’t met, or you didn’t feel secure in your living arrangements during childhood, you might carry those feelings over to today, even if reality dictates these beliefs aren’t true. With a healthy and full bank account, you may still have a scarcity mentality.

The Real Reason Why Couples Fight About Money Problems

We’re inherently drawn to those who trigger our core beliefs. Relationships are the crucible with which we are formed into a more complete person. During the transformation process, we’re forced to face some of these inner conflicts and beliefs, which manifest themselves in our interactions with our partner.

The great thing about conflict is how it forces us to really examine ourselves. Productive, meaty, hands-on conflict engages us. It forces us to look deep into our own abyss and understand where our beliefs come from and why. Living a full, engaged life means having a partner who brings out these conflicts and is a great sparring partner.

We can bounce our beliefs off our partner and wrestle with them to find our truths. This struggle and constant provocation is actually how we grow and evolve. If our partner doesn’t challenge us, we become stagnant and stop developing. We often choose a partner because they’re able to help us complete our unfinished growth and development, so we can find out who we can truly become.

So the next time you find yourself dueling over dollars (or engaged in any conflict), take a step back to examine your yearnings and core beliefs. It’s never just as simple as wanting a balanced checkbook. The conflict may be born from a desire to be acknowledged or to feel safe and cared for. It might stem from our belief that we don’t have enough or that our needs aren’t being met. Uncovering the deeper core to our conflicts is exciting because it’s the way growth is launched—it opens the path so the real work can begin!

To find out more about strengthening your relationship and unlocking your personal power, please join us for our next More Life Training. Visit www.wrightliving.com to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at hello@wrightliving.com if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

About the Author


Dr Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user 76657755@N04.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.



Always Fighting?
Conflict is Common,
But Fight Fair

Whenever we hear someone say, “Oh, we never fight,” it always raises a few red flags. If you’re really engaging with another person, there’s going to be conflict!

Things are never going to be perfect.

Dating and relationships can reveal so many “a-ha!” moments. After all, dating is a great opportunity to learn new things about yourself and the ways you set boundaries as you engage in (or shy away from) conflict. When you go out with someone, are you panicking at the first sign of conflict? What about when you’ve reached a make-or-break moment in the relationship? Do you commit to holding your ground, or do you backslide after a few weeks and assume more than your share of the blame?

Many of us have a very difficult time with conflict—understandably, of course. We all have limiting beliefs that are comprised of sets of preconceived values, perceptions and ways of dealing with others which shape our relationships. We may catch ourselves avoiding unpleasant emotions (like hurt, sadness, fear, or anger) because they’re uncomfortable for us. However, even when our emotions make us uncomfortable, that doesn’t always need to be a negative thing.

Our emotions, even if they’re unpleasant, can be great tools for growth, as they can help us understand ourselves on a deeper level.

Assuming Fault or Passing Blame?

Often, many of us have a tendency to want to assume everything is our fault—OR to assume any disagreement is ALL the fault of the other person. When a relationship ends or when things aren’t going well, it’s usually not just because of one thing we’ve done or said; it’s really about the bigger picture and the roles each of us play within the relationship. What yearnings were expressed and met, and what yearnings were held back out of fear?

When conflict arises in your relationship, there’s a set of rules to help you and your date or partner fight fair. In our new book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss these rules of engagement. For example, did you know that everyone is responsible for their own emotions? Here’s another great one from the book: no one takes more than 50% of the blame.

When dating, you have this great opportunity to “play” with all of these rules of engagement and really feel them out. You can meet someone and in the first few sentences you might have an immediate connection…or you might have to work to find the connection. Neither way is wrong and both give you a chance to learn new and exciting things about yourself, about another person, and about conflict.

Fighting More Frequently? Stay True to Yourself

Once you’ve been on a few dates, you might find that conflicts arise more freely. This is something to be celebrated rather than feared! When you’ve reached the point that you’re comfortable enough to be honest with yourself and tell your date how you feel, it’s a great moment in your personal growth.

Some of us find we go into a relationship ready to debate, engage in conflict, and discuss things open and honestly—but we hold back on building the emotional and softer side of our connection. It’s still a question of whether or not you’re fully engaged. Again, neither approach is wrong, but the challenge is in how you can continue to express your truth. Are you being you?

Emotions and connections make us vulnerable, which can be frightening. When we’re putting our real selves out there and being open and honest, we’re in a place where we may be rejected or hurt. And let’s face it, that doesn’t feel good. The real joy is when you can look at the situation and no matter the outcome (whether it was a great connection or a not-so-great connection) you can say you were 100% honest about who you were throughout. That’s the awakening.

When Relationships End

If you just can’t reach a give-and-take point or if you feel stagnant in your personal growth, it might be time to move on. If you feel you’re being honest and engaging with the other person but it’s just not there on a fundamental level, it can be difficult.

Breakups never feel good. They leave us questioning our actions, and wondering if we were too reactive or if we were really honest in what we wanted. We question if we held back our emotions due to fear or anger. We can question everything about ourselves.

The great news is a breakup is a great time to reevaluate and lean on your friendships and support system. It can give you a chance to work through growth and even find an eventual way to get back to sharing a friendship after a cooling-off period (assuming you WANT to continue a connection and found the friendship nourishing).

Breakups aren’t fun, but they give us a chance to sort out what we want and how we can better express our desires and yearnings. They allow us to examine the interaction, and we can rest easy knowing we were fully engaged, we didn’t shy away from conflict, and we approached the relationship with honesty and openness.

Dating and relationships can be fraught with opportunities for both awakenings and disturbances, but both can be moments of beauty and growth.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.
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Join us every two weeks on Wednesdays at noon CST for our podcast Bring Out Your Best! where we discuss dating, relationships and being your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.

About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

Dr Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user prendio2.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.