If your thoughts are preoccupied with a friend and some alternate life you could be living together, you’re likely doing damage to your primary relationship, said Marie Land, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
“If the right circumstances exist, emotional infidelity is all too common and convenient,” she said. “There’s nothing terrible about enjoying a little attention from time to time. But when you’re spending time with your partner and still thinking about the other person, you may be crossing the line into emotional cheating.”
3. You start to hide things, keep secrets or outright lie.
Even if it’s a lie of omission, it’s a serious red flag when you purposely avoid telling your spouse about the other person, said Marni Feuerman, a marriage and family therapist in Boca Raton, Florida.
“Ask yourself: Would I be in the clear if my spouse overheard a conversation between me and this particular friend?” she said. “This should help you figure out for sure if things may be headed in a troubling direction.”
4. You compare your partner to the other woman or man.
“If only my girlfriend was more like Jennifer at work” can quickly escalate to “I wish my girlfriend was Jennifer at work.” What’s more, you probably aren’t being fair to your partner when you compare her to a work crush, Land said.
“Maybe you’re raving about how funny your coworker is, but keep in mind that you two aren’t trying to make a relationship work. You aren’t sharing the demands of house chores and demanding schedules,” she said. “Give your real partner credit for what they’re doing right and recognize that you may be giving the other person too much credit.”
5. You think about the other person during sex.
It’s an obvious red flag if you’re comparing your partner to the other person in bed. You may figure your fantasies are keeping things hot between the sheets, but in the long run, it’s a risky gamble, said Diane Spear, a therapist in New York City.
“It can actually take your sexual energy out of the relationship,” she said. “Put it this way: Would you want your partner to think of someone else while having sex with you?”