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Is an Emotional Affair Cheating? (Busy Philipps Had One)

When it doesn't get physical, but there is a deep connection.

Busy Philipps reveals she almost got divorced after having an intense emotional affair.

But her bff Michelle Williams was the one who talked her out of leaving her husband Marc Silverstein in the wake of it. In her new memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, the 39-year-old talk show host explains that her marriage hit a rough patch after her husband failed to properly co-parent their daughter Birdie, now 10, and she became very close with another man in the meantime.

“There was a man I was friends with, another dad. We’d been having lunch and stuff. Texting. Talking on the phone a lot…Honestly, I had a crush on him. I like him. Maybe I even loved him? He clearly liked me too,” Busy writes. “Marc was still going to his Lakers games and to watch football with his friends on Sundays.


She claimed she was “going to lose her mind” from the pressures of being a new mom and that she began her “affair” in 2016. She went as far as to ask for a divorce.

Marc was shocked, and her friends intervened, begging her to give the marriage another shot. They began couples counseling, and individual therapy. Still, she admits, she was texting the other guy. “I know. That part is so sh---y. I'm sorry. I really am,” she writes. She soon fessed up to her husband, saying, “Marc had recently had what I guess is called a breakthrough, and when I finally came clean about the other dude he was weirdly understanding about it.”

The two eventually found their groove, and added another daughter to their family, Cricket, now five.

Emotional affairs happen all the time — many begin in the workplace, reports Psychology Today, often when emails between two people grow more frequent and intense over time.

“For workplace buddies and acquaintances, the messages amount to learning more about each other. Most of the time this is as far as it goes, but in some instances the email exchanges grow in frequency and intensity. The exchanges become more personal, turning toward intimate subjects such as what is missing from each person’s marriage, which longings have gone unanswered and which hopes unfulfilled,” PT reports. “Since there are no longstanding relationships without compromises and disappointments, this kind of discussion can evolve naturally enough. Both people feel deeply seen. This other person gets it. Without the messiness of day to day life, the exchanges in this virtual relationship can gradually evolve into a special and private treat. This is when the messages start to feel like something that should be kept hidden.”

Most of the time, people believe that if there is no physical contact then “nothing threatening is going on.” “Yet those who stumble upon evidence of a partner’s growing enchantment with such a ‘friend’ almost always view this differently. It feels terrible to them,” PT reports. “Someone has stepped into emotional territory previously reserved for them, to which they used to have free and exclusive access.”

The worst part can be the fighting when the person is confronted. “Any expression of hurt or jealously is taken as a challenge to the partner’s right to have friends outside the marriage, to have personal freedom. It’s just a friendship. To complain about such a valuable addition to the partner’s life is to be accused of being controlling, petty, and insecure,” says PT.

How can a person wrapped up in an emotional affair get out of it?

First you need to recognize you’re having one. Signs that may indicate a relationship that has gone too far: “sharing personal thoughts or stories with someone of the opposite sex, feeling a greater emotional intimacy with him or her than you do with your spouse, comparing him or her to your spouse, and begin listing why your spouse doesn't add up, longing for your next contact or conversation, feeling the need to keep conversations or activities involving him or her a secret from your spouse, fantasizing about spending time with, getting to know or sharing a life with him or her.”

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