The 8 Types of Affairs and What They Mean

Published March 9, 2021

There are 8 types of affairs. No matter which one you or your partner engages in – cheating is cheating.

Affairs cause deep emotional pain for the other partner, failed partnership overall, feelings of guilt and shame on the affair participant.

Why Do Affairs Happen And How Do They Begin?

You may be especially vulnerable if your existing marriage is on the rocks, or you’re not getting emotional validation or other needs met at home. Affairs may be the result of tension, resentment, and distrust that builds over a long timeframe.

Affairs can have a mood-altering effect – it can feel like a high when you get a message from that person, or getting to see them in person
Maybe you begin to look forward to your chats, become eager to get their input on a difficult decision in your own life.

Affairs of any type steal energy and attention from your partnership. Instead of talking about your unmet needs with your partner or going to couples therapy, partners look outside of their commitment to meet those needs.

The 8 Types of Affairs

1) The Emotional Affair

It may start out as just a “special friendship” with a co-worker, a neighbor, or a parent at one of your kid’s activities. Eventually, that friendship can morph into something more emotionally intimate, and in many cases, it does.

A survey by Simply Hired revealed that 50% of female employees and 44% of male employees admitted to having a “work spouse” at some point in their careers.

Some people rationalize these types of affairs because they are not engaging in sexual activity. An emotional affair is still a kind of affair though. Infidelity does not require sexual contact – an emotional connection is all it takes in real life.

2) The Romantic Affair That Comes With Attachment

This is the type of affair that comes to mind most often when we think of affairs.

The romantic affair stems from one spouse having an intense attraction to another person. So much so, that they believe they’ve fallen in love with their affair partner and can’t control their emotions. This type of affair most often includes both physical and emotional connection to the affair participant.

3) The “Accidental” One Night Stand

There is no such thing as an accidental affair. If your partner engages in a one night stand, they are making a choice to step outside the partnership or marriage. The rationalizations of “it was just the heat of the moment”, “I was drunk” or “it just happened” are not excuses to step outside of the marriage.

These types of affairs are prompted by convenience or opportunity. The one night stand is different than the emotional and romantic affairs. There is no emotional attachment.
With this type of affair, the affair partner most likely wants to stay in their marriage. Most often, there is no issues seen with their spouse and they are generally happy in their relationship.

4) The Repeat Offender Sex Addict’s Affair

Extended affairs with two people or more can be a sign of a sex addict. Someone with sexual addiction has compulsions and never finds true fulfillment no matter how many times they cheat on a spouse. Sex addicts will commit infidelity on a long-term basis until they get caught and/or are forced to seek treatment.

People who are addicted to sex or affairs get the same chemical “high” like drugs or alcohol which motivates them to chase the high and have sexual affairs with multiple partners.

5) The Love Addict’s Affair

A love addict feels a lack of love in their current marriage and may even admit that they married the wrong person. You might also call this the eternal relationship search for “the one”. These types of affairs tend to happen more with females who are indifferent about their marriages and LGBT+ couples.

The compulsion and obsession are centered on the relationship or marriage and not the physical interaction. These types of affairs also involve physical connection – there is usually a sexual affair and an emotional affair.

6) The “Screw You” Revenge Affair

This “get mad, get even” affair is the most dangerous type of affair. People who engage in these affairs have one goal – to sure their partner finds out to hurt them. To show them “I am desired by someone else” even though they know it will make their partner feel betrayed.

Revenge affairs are always about making the other spouse pay in pain. The partner may be seeking revenge for their partner’s affair, perceived affair or many other wrongs they feel they endured.

7) The Strictly Online Cyber Affair

This is our modern dern type of affair. The benefit of cyber affairs is that cheaters can create any persona they want. Fantasy is a significant element of cyber affairs.

It may be anonymous in many cases, but the same emotional and sexual overtones are present. Intimate online chats, cybersex, filming sex acts with a webcam or other similar actions still trigger the same feelings as they would in a face-to-face affair.

8.) The “Out-The-Door” Exit Strategy Affair

This type of affair happens when you want to expedite the end of your marriage. The affair is simply your exit strategy.
It also serves as a way of starting to mentally and emotionally prepare for the next chapter in your life.
When people are in these affairs, they often discuss with the affair partner that “we will be together when it ends with my spouse”. Statistically, these relationships do not make it.

Affairs Don’t Just Happen In Bad Relationships

Partners can be happy in their relationships while also wanting to experience more than the relationship has to offer. More often than not, participants in emotional affairs want to stay in their relationship. This is why people go to extraordinary lengths to cover up the affair.

The most common affairs that occur when the partner does not want to end their current relationships are ones that involve sexual addiction and one night stands.
If you are finding yourself struggling in your relationship or want to heal from a current or past affair, individual or couple’s therapy can help.

Michelle Mooney, Seattle Therapist

Michelle Mooney, Seattle Therapist

I’ve spent the last four years inside community mental health settings with many different kinds of people from all walks of life, and what I know is that we can find an integrated and holistic approach that is just right for you. No matter what brings you to my practice, I meet you exactly where you are and adapt our time together to include art therapy, meditation instruction, EMDR, and any number of other modalities.

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