The thing with emotional affairs is that you rarely realise you’re getting into one until it’s too late. Like eating a whole packet of Flings.

One minute you’re daintily picking out one tasty little curl, the next you’ve hoovered up the entire bag of crunchy yellow flavouring. The upside with the Flings is that 90% of what you’ve consumed is air and the rest compressed into a sludgy ball the size of a pea.

The consequences of an emotional affair, however, are a little bigger to digest.

While everyone has their own idea about ‘emotional cheating’, for me it’s this: When you’re sharing with someone other than your partner intimate information about your sexual self, feelings and fantasies in a way that builds heat between you two – and you keep it secret from your squeeze – you’re having yourself an emotional affair.

Married women are as likely to reach out to men other their partners to get the emotional or sensual input they need.

To be honest, most of my experience with this has been as the virtual ‘side’. When you’re a single, some of the most eager emo sexters are married men. My last bag of Flings came in the form of The VUP, the Very Unavailable Person. 

He was married with three kids. Three. And there was another on the way. If you’d asked me a month before we met if I’d ever consider a full-on physical affair with a married man I would’ve said no.

But two months into daily emails, regular texts and coffee meet-ups, I’d lost my mind enough to consider it.

Probably because the intensity of my attraction to him trumped sense, but mostly because that’s the end game with the emotional affairs: hooking up for real. 

What stopped me? I didn’t want to be a ‘side’. It was that simple. And that complex.

I took me a while, but I got to a place where I respected what I needed – to be a priority for someone’s love – more than I enjoyed the daily affirmation of being desired by someone who was playing a risky game with their own life.

And while he felt trapped in being unable to share with his partner, I still had a choice. So I made it and cut all contact.

Looking back, I wonder if he simply transferred that energy to someone else or if he got around to opening up to his wife honestly. The former is the easier action, but with the most complicated consequences; the latter, the more difficult choice, but with bigger rewards.

And this isn’t gendered. Married women are as likely to reach out to men other their partners to get the emotional or sensual input they need.

If you find yourself in an emotional affair because you’re not getting what you need from your primary, you need to know that all you’re doing is driving that wedge deeper and wider between you two, needing ever more effort to cross. 

And if you’re holding out for your VUP like I was, trash the Flings. Trust me. They’re never as satisfying as you ultimately need them to be. 

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