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The term often describes a bond between two people that mimics the closeness and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship while never being physically consummated.
An emotional affair is sometimes referred to as an affair of the heart.
"A relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or lover) that affects the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage.
The role of an affair is to create emotional distance in the marriage." In this view, neither sexual intercourse nor physical affection is necessary to affect the committed relationship(s) of those involved in the affair.
It is theorized that an emotional affair can injure a committed relationship more than a one night stand or other casual sexual encounters.
Research by Glass & Wright found that men's extramarital relationships were more sexual and women's more emotional.
For both genders, sexual and emotional extramarital involvement occurred in those with the greatest marital dissatisfaction.Chaste and emotionally intimate affairs tend to be more common than sexually intimate affairs.