Along with disputes about finances and child-rearing, infidelity can cause major damage to a marriage. While physical affairs are particularly damaging, emotional affairs are equally so.

Healthline explains that emotional affairs occur when a person develops a deep emotional connection with someone other than their spouse. They highlight the importance of emotional intimacy within relationships, and what can happen when that intimacy breaks down.

Where do emotional affairs take place?

While “in real life” emotional affairs are common, especially between co-workers who spend many hours a day together, they also occur digitally:

Texting

Texting behaviors can become extremely problematic when infidelity is an issue. For example, your spouse might text the emotional affair partner several times a day, or engage in a running conversation that lasts the entire day. Conversely, you might have difficulty getting in touch with your partner, or find that your texts go unread and unreciprocated.

Social media

Social media is an acceptable way of staying close to the people in your life. However, it is also an outlet for emotional affairs, especially when there is frequent communication between your spouse and the affair partner.

How can you tell the difference between an affair and a friendship?

Even a very good friend should not take precedence over a spouse. A friend is supportive of healthy relationships and will not get in the way or cause problems between two married people. Most importantly, your spouse will have nothing to hide when it comes to friendships. There is no secrecy because there are no suspicious and concerning behaviors.

What should you do after discovering your spouse is unfaithful?

Only you can tell whether your marriage  is worth saving. If your spouse is repentant and willing to take the right healing steps, it is possible to move on from an emotional affair. However, if your spouse does not admit wrongdoing and continues the inappropriate behavior, divorce is probably the best option.