What Is An Extramarital Affair?

Infidelity | | , Content Writer & Editor
Updated On: January 16, 2024

Up until recently, I believed extramarital affairs are all about the passion of the body – purely sexual to be more specific. On further research, the myriad colors and flavors of the term were unveiled. Not all extramarital affairs end as all-consuming, marriage-wrecking sexual escapades.

There are many types of affairs with more emotional nuances than we think. Extramarital affairs in movies have titillating tales of nudity to convey the basic principles of the affair. But it’s not really the case always. If you dig deeper into ‘how do extramarital affairs start?’, you will be surprised how many of these relationships that started as a liaison eventually transformed into an affair of the heart.

What really is an extramarital affair?

In simple terms, extramarital affairs include a married person indulging in romantic, sexual, mental, spiritual, or any other kind of attachment to a person who is not their married partner. Extra maritals are emotional and physical relationships between two consensual adults, outside their respective marriages. For any relationship, sexual or otherwise, to be termed as infidelity or adultery, at least one of the partners needs to be married.

The aftermath of an affair is devastating. Be it the cheater’s guilt, be it the partner discovering the infidelity – the aftermath becomes toxic to the relationship. Especially consequences of the affairs when both parties are married are more damaging as they affect the lives of four people at the same time.

The road/reason leading to the affair matters very little; it could be indifference by the partner, no sexual satisfaction, or just a married person keeping the thrill alive by having illicit affairs with people. Marital discord is an important reason given for being an infidel. The reasons given by the infidel do not matter at all. When an extramarital affair hits the daylight, it’s Armageddon.

Related Reading: Coping With Depression After Cheating On Someone – 7 Expert Tips

Why do people have extramarital affairs?

Just for the thrill of it, of course. Actually no. The daily rigor of married life often tempts people to look for companionship and enjoyment with someone besides their partners or spouses. However, not all illicit affairs are similar. Some are based on emotional connection, while others are instances where people quench their sexual appetite.

You would hear several reasons trying to justify the question of ‘how do extramarital affairs start?’ A higher percentage of women list lack of communication and emotional intimacy leads them to infidelity. A bad sexual history or having no sexual interest in their partners may also make them have affairs outside the marriage. The men, on the other hand, list lack of communication with their partners including stress and fatigue as the primary reasons.

why do people have extra marital affairs
Unfulfilled emotional and sexual needs often lead to extramaritals

Women tend to stray away from the marriage when they do not get emotional support in the marriage. Erectile dysfunction is also another reason that drifts a couple apart. On many occasions, there are instances of a lonely housewife getting involved with a single or a married guy, outside her marriage, to fill her emotional vacuum. In many such cases, the husband is either traveling a lot or simply is not paying enough attention to the needs and requirements of the wife.

Many times in a joint family setup with kids, the husband and the wife do not get enough scope to engage sexually. This triggers the need for an affair that can meet the unsatisfied sexual desires of the husband. Working men and women also engage in extramarital relationships with coworkers. Similar working conditions and problems lead to shared emotions, which leads to a solid relationship.

Some may reason that the affairs can help your marriage by preventing divorce. Asha, an IT engineer got married when she was 21. She calls the occasional hooking up with people as a marriage balancer. What she lacks in the marriage i.e. good sex, she fulfils it with affairs outside the marriage. For all she cares, her husband, who takes a lot of business trips to Mexico and New Zealand might do the same as well. They come home happy, share gifts, have an intimate dinner, and go to sleep. She has been doing that for three years now.

Related Reading: 11 Tips To Build A Successful Relationship After Cheating

How long do extramarital affairs usually last?

The duration of an extramarital affair is usually until the spouse finds out about it. But to answer your question, “How long do extramarital affairs usually last?”, the duration of an affair can be varied, just like the different types of affairs. It depends on the intensity of the couple’s emotional intimacy, social convenience, and the validity of the need (be it physical, emotional, or financial) that they were fulfilling through the affair.

  1. One-night stand: The millennial dating term – ONS – is not limited to just millennials. One-night stands arise out of opportunity rather than planning. One-night stands can happen after meeting an old flame from high school. It can happen over the course of a seminar or conference out of town. It can even start as casually and accidentally as having dinner with an old friend. Too much alcohol, harmless flirting, and the spouse being out of town could speed up the process of having a one-night stand as an illicit affair
  2. Longer-term liaison: This is a long-term extramarital affair. Longer-term dissatisfaction with marriage can result in this extramarital dalliance. Usually, this kind of extramarital proves to be more emotional than sexual which makes it go on for a long time. Through this affair, one tends to be more attached to the third person for emotional, mental, and physical satisfaction. What the marriage lacks, is made up via a longer-term liaison outside the marriage. This kind of an affair lasts for a long time
  3. Serial cheating: Once a cheater, always a cheater? Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. Serial cheating on their partners provides an ego boost to the one doing the cheating, they usually do not care about the other person’s feelings or who gets hurt in the process. They need validation to their own needs, even if that means hurting their spouses or, the one they are cheating with.
    Serial cheating can last as long as ONS or a number of longer-term liaisons

6 types of extramarital affairs you should know about

Since affairs come in all colors, here are the 6 different types of affairs.

Related Reading: 8 Reasons Why Women Have Extramarital Affairs

1. The emotional affair

We were close but we never had sex – the official slogan of an emotional affair. More than getting sexual, it stays emotionally validating. You share your hopes and dreams and passions and fears with this one person so much you feel like you are one body one soul. Generally, this happens when you lack intimacy with your spouse. You term the emotional affair as an innocent friendship but you do look at them as an inevitable soulmate in your life. It never becomes into something more than an ‘innocent friendship’ but nothing really comes out of it.

More on extra marital affairs

2. It’s a just-sex affair

People in this kind of affair look for lust and sex when they venture outside marriage. People engaging in this kind of affair do not look for anything past the hot-steamy sex and usually have no plans to leave their marriage for their affair partner.

3. I-will-get-back-at-my-spouse affair

She cheated on me, so I picked up the sleaziest woman in the pub and went ahead with it. Common for spouses who have recently found out about their spouses being an infidel and it is their way of getting back at them. These kinds of affairs are usually too hot, where they take out their frustration of being cheated on in bed with someone outside the marriage. The logistics of it do not make sense since revenge cheating does nothing good for the marriage. It only builds up resentment and destroys the peace of mind.

4. I-was-temped-into-it affair

This kind of affair begins when the spouse finds out someone intends to have sex with them (How is it almost always about sex?). They give in to the temptation and do not think of the consequences. The illicit affair starts with a simple hello where the cheating person claims that the affair “just happened”. Here again, marital dissatisfaction fuels them to jump into an affair.

Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Partner Is Sleeping With Someone Else

5. Mid-life crisis affair

Some invest in a sports car. Some dress themselves in youngster clothes. Some have extramarital affairs to get a grip on the midlife crisis freak-out they are having. Remember American Beauty where the father has psychosexual fascinations with his daughter’s teenage friend? A couple of more steps and they are knees deep in an illicit affair at the cusp of their 45th birthday, making them feel good and validating their feelings.

6. The all-in-one affair I have never had such feelings for anyone

The most lethal of all the affairs – and also the most potent. This is the affair where it doesn’t feel like having an affair at all. There is an emotional connection and great understanding, coupled with great sex that makes any other relationship (even the marriage) feel like it’s not up to the mark. This kind of affair is so solidly founded that the affair can also lead to something more permanent.

Adultery or extramarital affairs when both parties are married lead to turbulence in married lives, make the straying person feel guilty (hello, cheater’s guilt), and even lead to separation. But all affairs do not have to be deal-breakers. Couples counseling and therapy might prove to be helpful for married couples who want to move past the infidelity. Affairs are deadly and the trust broken cannot be fully repaired but with hard work, the marriage after the affair can prove to be stronger than before.


1. Can extramarital affairs be true love?

Yes, it’s a possibility we can’t deny. While some people engage in illicit affairs solely with sexual intentions, some do develop a deeper emotional connection with their affair partner. The world has seen the greatest example of that through the lasting, loving relationship between King Charles and Queen Camilla Parker Bowles. Sometimes, an affair that started as a casual fling happens to grow into true love.

2. What are the effects of extramarital affairs?

The effects of extramarital affairs are often bittersweet on a marriage and the people involved in it. The easily predictable outcome is of course heartbreak, rage, jealousy, and fighting which in many cases lead to separation or divorce. But there are instances where after an affair, couples manage to straighten out the distances in their marriage and start afresh.

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