David Kavuma, a counselling psychologist at Mildmay Uganda highlights them as the following:
•Your spouse does not know about them.
•You like them, a lot.
•You talk about them, a lot.
•You confide in them a lot by even revealing to them issues you never say to your spouse.
•Although you may not be physically intimate with them, you fantasise about what it would be like being in a relationship with them.
You are two great friends. He is married and so are you. He has children and so do you. From time to time, you meet over lunch or dinner and talk about things including work and your respective families.
You frequently text and call each other on phone at any time of the day. You start to feel that this so called friend is more caring and understanding than your spouse. Then suddenly, boom! You start developing feelings for this friend.
You have a choice to either continue or discard the friendship but when you think about it, breaking ties with this person is wounding the heart, so, you decide to keep the person in your life.
The interactions continue but with no intimacy (sex) involved. But deep down, the emotions and time both of you invest in this so called friendship begins to wear you down.
It drains you to the extent that your spouse starts noticing the red flags and concludes that you may be involved in an affair, something you deny.
More than just texts
Although it may not be physically an affair, such special attachments can be categorised as emotional unfaithfulness, says David Kavuma, a counselling psychologist at Mildmay Uganda.
“Sex always starts from the mind. It begins by an individual having a crush or strong liking for another member of the opposite sex. Before you know it, the person starts fantasising about what it is like being in a relationship with them,” Kavuma says.
According to the counsellor, emotional unfaithfulness is a common issue nowadays because of the era of social media since most people spend so much time on different social media platforms.
“Many people are misusing these sites to satisfy their own selfish desires. You find someone in a relationship on Facebook constantly liking photos of a particular girl or even frequently engaging in a conversation with them via Whatsapp exchanging flirtatious messages,” he says, adding, “As much as there is no physical contact, they are being emotionally unfaithful to their partner.”
A case scenario
One of the women Daily Monitor spoke to says for the past years, she has noticed that her boyfriend of two years is always absent-minded.
“I always have this feeling that he is with me physically but then his mind and heart are elsewhere. It is like he thinks about another woman. My boyfriend has previously introduced me to one of his female friends whom he occasionally talks about, sometimes I suspect he is secretly in love with her,” the woman who identified herself only as Mbabazi says.
There are many individuals in relationships like Mbabazi’s dealing with emotionally unfaithful partners.
For Akiror, the red flags were raised after realising that her husband occasionally writes flirtatious comments on women’s Facebook pictures.
“He mainly comments on the photos of beautiful, young girls. It may seem an innocent act but who knows if that is where their interactions stop?” she says.
The mother of one also hates the fact that her husband spends so much time on Whatsapp.
“He is always on his phone texting whoever God knows what. As he is doing that, he will giggle or burst into fits of laughter, a habit I find very annoying,” she says.
Akiror has on numerous occasions requested her husband to tone down on his social media use, in vain.
Power in your hands
Kavuma says individuals have the power to stop emotional unfaithfulness.
“Limit the time you spend with the other person. If you must, stop going out together. Text only when it is necessary,” he says.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is cut complete communication with the other person.
“Emotional unfaithfulness may seem harmless but it also has potential tendencies of leading to physical intimacy with the involved party. So, before things get out of hand, it is better you cut ties with the other person,” he says.
Overall, Kavuma advises individuals to set up boundaries as a way of controlling emotional unfaithfulness.