‘Affair’ is quite a common word these days, but all affairs are not the same. There are seven types of affairs, seven ways for infidelity to rear its ugly head in your life. Once you know the kind of affair a cheating partner has had, you can make more informed decisions for the future. Do you want to end the relationship, or continue with it? Any affair will harm the marriage/relationship deeply even though it affects the people involved differently.
The common consensus is that women typically accept one-night stands from their cheating partners but will not tolerate an emotional affair. Men, on the other hand, are claimed to be more tolerant towards emotional affairs but not physical affairs. Regardless of whether these assumptions are true or not, the point is that different kinds of affairs can harm a dynamic in different ways.
So, are there different kinds of affairs? Yes, experts do classify them into seven different categories based on the level of intimacy in the relationship. Let’s learn more about the types of affairs, so you can be sure whether the questionable behavior by your partner is telling you something more than you think it is.
7 Types Of Affairs You Did Not Know About
If you were thinking about how an affair can be emotional or sexual or both, you are about to be stumped. In the age of self-exploration and digital enthusiasm, affairs go far beyond just these two. You want to avoid cheating on your partner and try to find an appropriate way to do so, whether it’s just exchanging messages on social media or getting involved with someone just as you’re leaving a current relationship, which is known as an exit affair!
Interestingly, you may think it’s just a friendship or perhaps even a little more, but after reading this piece, and according to psychologists, you will realize you are already in an affair. When you don’t even know about the types of affairs, it’s possible you might just end up indulging in one without realizing it.
How many types of affairs are there and what is the reason behind these infidelities? According to the psychology of affairs, experts have classified 7 different kinds of affairs. Read on to know about them and check whether you or your partner fits any.
1. A sexual affair – the classic cheating
Sexual affairs are the most common type of affair among all the 7 types of affairs. You know that you are unfaithful, but are still doing it anyway. This is like a purely physical act between two people without much emotional attachment. This would qualify more as a fling or a casual hookup of which your partner is totally unaware.
Sexual affairs are, as the term suggests, primarily sexual in nature. More often than not, both the partners involved are looking to satisfy their primal instincts.
This almost always begins as ‘just sex’. It could be with a random person or a friend you can’t really call a friend anymore. The person doesn’t matter, the activity does.
The affair starts as a purely sexual experience without too much exchanging of emotions and feelings, like a no-strings-attached relationship.
The life of these affairs is limited to the satisfaction of sexual needs or up until they find each other pleasurable and fun between the sheets. Once the sexual needs are satisfied and they lose sexual interest in the other, these affairs usually come to an end.
Though it starts off as a casual fling, it can potentially grow into something much stronger. Physical intimacy can lay the foundations for emotional intimacy and over time, affair partners can feel a sense of commitment towards each other, almost like spouses do.
2. An emotional affair – cheating without physical intimacy
Can you call it an affair if the “lovers” don’t have sex? Yes, you can. An emotional affair begins with a harmless friendship and slowly develops into a deep connection. Sometimes, it turns into a platonic relationship where the emotional bond shared with the affair partner can start treading into the space of the marriage partner.
This can be extremely dangerous. It can eventually erode the peace and love from the marriage itself. You deceive yourself by leading yourself to think that it does not qualify as cheating as you have not committed any sexual transgression.
But even now if you ask yourself what the nature of the relationship is, you will know that it is cheating. 35% of wives and 45% of husbands report having had emotional affairs, according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Women are usually drawn towards emotional affairs because they are never really emotionally satisfied. The emotional void in their marriage makes them connect with someone to satisfy their emotional needs.
Men too, have emotional affairs with their close friends or colleagues. This relationship involves great emotional intimacy which isn’t limited to ‘just friends’.
An emotional affair may involve physical intimacy, but it is much stronger than it. One can easily get attached to a person, but it is much more difficult to detach yourself from that person. You think that it’s harmless because sex is not involved, but it’s worse. Sooner or later, sex too makes its way into these kinds of relationships.
One person wrote ‘It’s difficult to put things into perspective when you can have endless hours of conversation with one person, but don’t have that same compatibility with your partner’. Another said, ‘I had this undeniably sexual chemistry without even sleeping together with him and here my husband and I had nothing to speak of or share.’
3. The digital affair – the peril of technology
‘I felt seen and noticed for the first time in years’, she wrote to us. She connected with her college crush during a reunion and started a digital affair. Historically, men have been more likely to cheat, but cyber relationships may be changing that.
The growth of social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, along with steamy chat room conversations, has triggered a new form of infidelity called the digital affair. When you connect with someone through online dating sites or social media and engage in conversations that you should be having with your husband/wife, it is a digital affair.
You are involved with this person almost every day and share your experiences, fears, emotions and feelings with your online partner rather than your spouse. They become your mentor, confidant, and guide as you become theirs. This leads to a strong emotional bond and that too rapidly.
It is easy to be connected to another via the digital platform. People who have digital affairs entice each other by sending seductive, sexy text messages, and build a virtual intimate relationship. Among the 7 types of affairs, this is the easiest to indulge in.
Another interesting fact to see is that on the Internet, one can be whoever one wants to be, have a zero size figure or six-pack abs, intellect or a sports enthusiast. One can type, backspace, delete. Anyone can display any image of themselves they want. And the other falls in love with that image. What drives a digital affair? If you have your own smartphone, you can access the person from anywhere at any time.
And all you pay is the cost of your service provider’s charges. E-gifts, songs via Whatsapp, morning sunset pictures cost nothing! You can hide your true identity and flirt for months or till you are comfortable taking it to a face-to-face meetup.
You may or may not meet the person physically, but the chats on your phone are enough to say that you are cheating on your partner. It’s a different kind of cheating in a relationship than the norm, which is why it can sometimes be hard to catch.
4. The one-night stand affair – the opportunist
By definition, a one-night stand is almost exclusively about sex. In general, people do not think of one-night stands as an affair, even though it is a betrayal and hurts deeply. How the cheated-on spouse reacts to his/her partner’s one-night stand is extremely subjective. Some may think it is a serious transgression, others may see it as a moment of weakness. For most, though, a one-night-stand affair is usually a moment of weakness or an act of impulse.
They didn’t plan on doing it, it just ‘happened’. Perhaps when they had a drink or two, and one thing led to another. Whether you were angry or drunk doesn’t make it any less than cheating. These affairs are usually based on impulse and are with strangers. The fact that it was a one-time affair makes you want to keep it under wraps.
Most people who have one-night affairs don’t let their partners know about their actions. They feel guilty of their actions and don’t want meaningless sex to ruin what they have with their partner.
At times, people have one-night stands to take revenge on their partner and make sure that their partner knows about it. They sleep with someone and enjoy the night as a way to take revenge for cheating or mistreatment in a marriage. Such cases almost are definitely the types of affairs that lead to divorce.
Even so, a spouse forgiving their cheating partner for this type of affair isn’t an unusual thing by any means. It’s possible to move past a one-night stand, granted both partners are absolutely committed to making their relationship better.
Related Reading: Her SMS to me revealed my husband’s affair.
5. The distraction affair – being emotionally unavailable
Distraction affairs happen when one partner is stressed. It could be a bad spell in their business or career, it could be about a health emergency with a family member or it could be the loss of a loved one.
When one has had a hard time coping with these serious, depressing issues, they can become vulnerable to engaging in an affair. An affair at this point is the way to distract themselves from the current pressures of life.
This is when one cheats on their partner without even realizing it. They do not want to cheat on their partners, they just want some relief from the existing burden of responsibilities. In marriage, as time passes, couples see themselves less as a source of happiness and fun and more as an avenue to solve issues together and shoulder responsibilities.
An affair partner there can offer exactly the opposite, an escape from the grey reality. Distraction affairs may help in the beginning, but eventually end up adding more stress to an already stressful life. The constant lying and cheating along with the guilt feeling can play havoc with one’s sense of self and life.
As a result, they become physically and emotionally distant from their partners too. At a time when one is already pressed for time and energy, this can turn out to be a huge waste of that essential resource. Why extramarital affairs happen is too broad a question to answer in one go, but this type of affair usually happens when partners become emotionally unavailable for each other.
6. The ‘double life’ affair – longing for something outside the marriage
The double affair is the riskiest of the 7 types of affairs. Here the cheating partner is connected through the mind, body, and perhaps even soul with the affair partner. S/he is in love and has a strong meaningful relationship with the affair partner. And the spouse, of course, has no clue. This is infidelity at all levels – emotional, physical, and sometimes even psychological.
Here, the person literally lives a double life – their emotional and physical needs are met with the affair partner, while their familial and other needs are met with the marriage partner. It is two parallel relationships for the cheating partner where s/he is equally invested in both and deeply so. People who have this affair end up becoming masters of manipulation and experts at lying and deceiving.
They live a married live, no matter how imperfect it is, and fulfill their needs elsewhere – both emotional and physical.
Such people get into relationships because they are unhappy with their marriage, or at least that’s what they say. They are unable to leave their spouses for some reason or the other; kids, alimony, not wanting to hurt them, etc. Whatever the reason, they feel trapped in the marriage and are unable to get out of it and thus indulge in this double life.
To cultivate such a demanding mind body affair takes a unique kind of determination to cheat on your current partner. Although it may seem impossible, this type of affair isn’t uncommon.
7. The serial affair – the sex addict
These affairs are for sex addicts and ultimate playboys. They go on and on, affairs after affairs. They love the thrill that a new romance, a new body, brings and they can not seem to stop themselves. Obviously, any concern for their partner is set aside.
They may apologize profusely when an affair is discovered, but they will indulge in another and yet another. They just seem incapable of saying no to temptation. Sex is like a drug they are addicted to and for them, variety does become the spice of their lives. They easily get bored and have multiple sex partners.
They are ridden by their sexual urges and never find true fulfillment, no matter how many times they cheat on a spouse. Such people are adept at hiding their affairs from their spouses. With every affair they become smarter at hiding it, their wives less trusting.
Spouses of sex addicts have a difficult time coming to grips with this type of affair because it happens a lot and whatever they may promise, they fail to see it through. People in these type of affairs most often get away with it. Many names come to mind, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Daniel Craig, to name a few. Among the 7 types of affair, the serial affair also happens often.
Related Reading: 7 People Share Stories Of Marriages That Survived Rough Patches
Do Affairs Ever Work?
Reading about the types of affairs to keep ourselves aware of how we may indulge/be victims of infidelity is well and good, but do the affairs ever work? This is like a million-dollar question. As we explained in the 7 types of affairs, every affair has a different purpose and every person finds a different kind of gratification in the affair. Some want sexual gratification, some want emotional solace.
Affairs work at a certain level in the sense that they gives momentary respite and happiness to the people involved, but as time goes by and they have to keep the affair under wraps, it becomes hard on the relationship. So hard, that it often fizzles out.
The spouse often finds out about the cheating and confronts the partner that’s when they have to take a decision to continue or to drop it.
If you were wondering if affairs that break up a marriage end in fruitful relationships, the answer isn’t too straightforward. The purely physical, one-off lustful affairs don’t really have the highest chance of succeeding as a relationship. Although the mind-body affairs, the ones that feature emotional as well as physical intimacy, might just end a marriage and work out as a relationship, if not for at least a while.
If you’ve been wondering “How do affairs end usually?”, the statistics paint a grim picture for marriages borne out of affairs, studies claim that just 5 to 7% of affairs end up in marriages, and of those, 75% usually do not last. Affairs, therefore, don’t seem to hold much promise when it comes to a long-term commitment.
The consequences of two married people getting into an affair are usually never good and it’s hard to work it out. But there are instances where a person has cone out of a marriage or a long-term relationship to be with the affair partner. But usually married women find it harder to move out because of an affair than married men.
How Long Do Most Affairs Last?
Affairs may not necessarily lead to the most fruitful marriage between cheating partners, but they still cause considerable pain to victims of infidelity. When a partner wails out “It was just one night, I promise”, the promise doesn’t usually sound sincere considering how your trust has entirely been broken.
Which is why, in the moment, it may seem like what you’re going through is a type of affair that will lead to divorce and your relationship will never recover from this. Inherent here is the assumption that the cheating partners’ affair is going to last a considerable amount of time.
However, according to WebMd, the “in love” stage of an affair usually lasts around 6 to 18 months. Experts unanimously agree that affairs last as long as both parties are getting what they want out of the equation and usually end not too long after the 6-12 month mark.
The generally agreed-upon answer to “How do affairs end usually?” tells us that affairs do not have the longest life span, but exceptions, as in all things, are not impossible.
Hopefully, you learned a little about the different kinds of cheating in a relationship. When a relationship falls victim to any of these types of affairs knowingly or unknowingly, the end result is often sorrow and grief. Being aware of the types of cheating can help you avoid the possibility of your partner ever being unfaithful in any way, or even you indulging in something you previously didn’t consider cheating.