There are many names for it–cybersex, internet affairs, virtual relationships…. They are basically emotional relationships that do not involve physical contact. That is, at first. Many affairs that begin as strictly emotional relationships quickly turn physical, thereby negating the claim of innocence. Whether emotional, physical, or both, they all constitute infidelity.
Most people who are involved in strictly emotional relationships defend their actions, insisting that they are ‘innocent’ because there hasn’t been any physical contact. But could they honestly say that they’ve never discussed sex, not to mention participating in phone sex, graphic sexual emails, or ‘sexting’  (sexually graphic pictures or  comments sent as a text message)? 

Just as Bill Clinton once tried to redefine what constitutes sex in order to save his own unfaithful butt by saying that oral sex didn’t count, the emotional versus physical affair debate is an attempt to redefine cheating. These ‘innocent’ cheaters want their partners to accept the idea that sharing their thoughts and feelings to the point that they fall in love, does not constitute cheating unless there is actual physical or sexual contact. Please! I’ll guarantee you this–if the shoe were on the other foot, they’d have a whole different view of the matter. There wouldn’t be any question as to whether or not an emotional affair was cheating.
I heard Dr. Drew (Pinsky) talking about cheating recently. He said that men normally cheat for sexual reasons (surprise!), and many times their indiscretions involve drugs and/or alcohol. He also said that women usually cheat for emotional reasons because of a lack of emotional intimacy in their relationships. I don’t think this should be a shock to anyone, but it confirms what I believe–that women need to feel loved, and if their partners do not meet that need, then women are tempted to become involved with someone who will meet that need. For women, the sex is usually secondary to love, just as it is in any romantic relationship.
So we know why women have emotional (nonphysical) relationships, and that’s pretty obvious. But why do men get involved in them? I have a theory. Just as in the physical infidelity, they get involved mentally many times because they are bored. I think that men, too, need to feel as if they are wanted, if not loved, and the intense romantic excitement of a new woman is like a drug to them. It feeds their self-esteem and makes them feel more alive and more like a man. Even if they know the affair won’t become physical, the talking and writing about sex arouses them, and it gives them something to fantasize about and maybe to hope for.
I’ve often thought about the difference between relationships. Some are based on sex, and others are more emotionally intimate. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but given the choice, I’d rather have my husband have a sexual one-nighter than a deeply emotionally intimate love affair that was never consummated. Of course, I hope I don’t ever have to deal with that sort of thing again, but you never know.
It’s easy to get caught up in an emotional relationship. It can start out innocently and then turn romantic, and then sexual. You have to be careful when communicating with anyone with whom you feel any type of attraction. If you find yourself thinking of that person more than you would anyone else, back off. Guard your heart, especially with regard to anyone you ever dated, or with whom you’ve been intimate on any level. 

If you are involved in a nonphysical, emotional relationship, and you do not consider it cheating, just consider this: How would you feel if your partner were doing exactly the same thing you’re doing? Would you be okay with it? Would you feel betrayed? Would it hurt you? Would you continue to trust him?
Cheating is not dependent upon what the definition of ‘is’ is. I think most people believe it’s just as much about what’s going on in your heart and mind, as it is about what’s going on in your pants. Just remember that the next time you pick up your cell phone to send that sexy text or flirty email. Chances are very good that your partner would consider it cheating, whether the person on the receiving end of those texts or emails had ever been physically intimate with you or not. Is it worth breaking his heart? If not, let it go, and don’t do it!