3 Signs You’re Emotionally Cheating

Scarlett Russell

Cheating doesn’t mean ‘sleeping with someone else’, chaps. Any form of unsuitable communication with a girl you fancy…is cheating.


Two months ago my boyfriend sheepishly admitted to exchanging texts with a girl, Sarah, he met at a club in Vauxhall. He didn’t know her surname, or even what she looked like in daylight hours, but had been contacting her for the past six weeks, begging to see her. Naturally, I demanded to see the texts. They were sometimes sordid, increasingly intimate and wholly inappropriate. Despite his insistence that they hadn’t even met up, let alone slept together, there was no way this was innocent.

As if there was a stench of emotional adultery in the air, only last week I consoled a friend who almost the same thing happened to. She discovered her recent ex was shagging one of his co-workers mere days after their breakup. Worse still, another colleague told her that the guilty couple had been flirting outrageously for the past month. Confronted, he insisted he’d never slept with the colleague. Still, their frequent trips to the coffee bar and all-day-long emails guaranteed that, as soon as he was free from my mate’s alleged clutches, he was in her bed faster than you can brew a gingerbread latte. But there’s no way around it, the dude cheated. Emotionally cheated.

Some blame the rise of social networking for emotional cheating. Facebook is a hotbed for sleazy private messages, be-friending girls you hardly know and doing so without your other half catching on. It doesn’t make it OK. Cheating doesn’t just mean ‘sleeping with someone else’. It’s, simply put, any form of unsuitable communication with a girl you fancy, who clearly isn’t just a platonic friend and certainly not one you would want your girlfriend to know about. Sex is just one player on an adulterous chess match. I’m not saying one should never forgive a cheater. Hell, we all make mistakes. But forget anything Robin Thicke tells you: there are no blurred lines, just right and wrong.

These are some of the pitying excuses us women have heard when it comes to emotional cheating. And, guess what? If they sound familiar, you need to have a word with yourself.

‘It was just flirting’
Obviously, we all flirt. I do it without even realising. Like the time I inadvertently gave a ticket officer the come on whilst topping up my oyster card at Finsbury Park station. I thought I was being friendly; my ex shook his head and hissed something about outrageous hair flicking as we argued down the escalator. It’s natural and harmless to flirt on occasion. Any behaviour or conversation you’d be perfectly comfortable, if a little embarrassed, for your girlfriend to witness, is innocent. In a trusting relationship you should never be asked to reveal your emails, private Facebook messages or phone (and if you are, it’s a sure sign of controlling behavior), but you shouldn’t have anything to hide, either.

‘She’s just a friend’
Is she? Talking about the intricacies of you relationship with your closest female friend is one thing; bitching about your nagging girlfriend who ‘just doesn’t understand’ you to a woman you fancy, is just not cool.

‘I never did anything physical’
Which is worse: a drunken one-night stand with Sarah from Vauxhall, or non-physical yet long-running contact with her, saying things like “I can’t stop thinking about you”. Either is a terrible betrayal, but I know which I’d be quicker to forgive. Using the Girlfriend Activation System to Minimize Risk in our Lives.

Oh, and the only thing worse than emotional cheating is being found out and trying to justify it with one of these lame excuses. My advice? Own up to everything and either break up or work through it. If you’re yet to be found out, good luck. You’ll need it.