It is based on communication, and that takes it to a whole new level, above and beyond physical affairs.
While men and women can be just friends, there are definitely lines that can be crossed. When you find yourself discussing intimate details about your marriage with someone else, this should be a red flag that the friendship might be edging towards something else. Marital issues should not be discussed with an individual who has the potential of becoming more meaningful to you than your spouse.
Where the physical affair tends to rush in quickly and knock you off your feet, the emotional one generally creeps in quietly, unnoticed at first. A friendship is formed and begins to grow. You find yourself telling them things that you have never told anyone else.You come to rely on them more than is proper.
Emotional affair partners are often start out as a sympathetic ear when you need to vent your frustrations about your marriage. As friends do, they provide you with a shoulder to cry on, and are always ready with a pep talk to make you feel better. The reassurances and compliments given by them come to mean a lot to you. At this point, they may be providing you with the very things that are lacking in your marriage. Validation of your complaints, reassurance that things can improve, and confirmation that you are a good person worthy of being loved.
The closer your bond with that person, the more you will go to them for advice and simple validation that you may not be getting from your spouse. The attachment grows stronger with every conversation, until they become your go-to person. Often, forgoing attempts to talk it out with your spouse.
Relationships that are already on rocky ground, are more susceptible to one, or both, partners having an emotional affair outside the marriage. If you are currently having marital problems, it is advised that you be extra cautious about confiding in someone, lest you find yourself in an emotional affair.
Some think emotional affairs are harmless, when nothing could be further from the truth. An emotional affair is generally much more damaging than a physical one. The deepest, most closely guarded thought and feelings, which should be reserved for your spouse, are shared with someone else. The emotional affair allows a third person into the marital relationship, and devastation is sure to follow.