Yes, an emotional affair is an actual thing. It is "a bond between two people that mimics the closeness and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship while never being consummated". The feelings and emotions that should be reserved for one's partner, but are given to someone else.
Epistula enim non erubescit - Marcus Tullius Cicero.
I guess maybe it comes down to a person's view of a relationship and the level of need, exclusivity and possessiveness one may have.
I guess to anyone else, this conversation might sound like the typical positions of a man and a woman
Two people in a couple are tied by emotional and sexual intimacy, plus the declared common will of being together. But it is definitely possible to share deep emotional intimacy with other people, without it being called cheating, or weird. Some minds (or souls, if you prefer) just connect and one person can have multiple platonic "soul mates" in my opinion. Build a deep emotional connection with them is important because it can make the person learn more, feel more, and grow.
However, I do believe that the emotional intimacy I have with my husband is a little deeper than what I have with friends, or family, or my PP, due to the fact that there are some things and thoughts that I share with him exclusively.
Here, let me try it this way. Imagine you have a partner or a spouse. You meet someone and you develop feelings for them. Feelings that are usually reserved for your partner. You daydream about them, you look forward to seeing them, you flirt with them, you do all the things you do with your partner, sans physical intimacy. You develop a bond that you have with your partner and now you feel pulled in both directions. Does that better explain it? Surely I cannot be the only one here who understands an emotional affair?