Monday, September 18, 2023

The 7 Types of Affairs and How They Affect Relationships

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Ekshika Parnami

When I use the word “affair,” what do you instantly imagine? Probably having a one-night stand while in a relationship, right? Well, there are actually 7 types of affairs. People who cheat are driven by different reasons, depending on the personality types of cheaters. For instance, have you ever watched the movie Last Night? It’s a story about the inner workings of a marriage, where both partners are tempted by different forms of infidelity after a heated argument. It explores the complexities of relationships and the various ways people can be unfaithful.

You see, some cheaters are driven by traits like narcissism or entitlement. Others cheat because they’re bored or have low self-esteem. Some enjoy the thrill of secret affairs, of being sneaky and getting away with it. Some cheat because they’re afraid of intimacy. Then there are those who cheat because they think they married the wrong person. Extramarital relationships are a complex topic after all. Let’s try to shed light on the reasons people cheat. Our aim is to help our readers create stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

7 Types Of Affairs You Did Not Know About

Did you know that there are 3 types of men who have affairs?

  • Mr. Charming (inherent playboy personality, marked by a tendency to flirt with women)
  • Mr. Horny (a man with an unusually high libido and low self-control)
  • Mr. Still-not-over-his-ex (has unresolved feelings from the past)
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However, affairs when both parties are married, are a lot more complicated than that. According to the psychology of affairs, experts have classified 7 different types of affairs. Read on to know about them and check whether you or your partner fall into any of these categories.

Related Reading: Surviving An Affair – 12 Steps To Reinstate Love And Trust In A Marriage

1. Sexual affair

Sexual affairs rank as the most prevalent among types of affairs that lead to divorce. Despite knowing their unfaithfulness, individuals engage in these encounters. Typically, this involves a strictly physical connection devoid of deep emotional ties. Often categorized as flings or casual hookups, these interactions often occur in secrecy, hidden from the partner.

In essence, these hot affairs revolve around fulfilling primal desires. The participants embark on this journey with the aim of gratifying their sexual needs. These liaisons commence as straightforward physical engagements, devoid of emotional exchange, resembling a no-strings-attached arrangement.

Effect on relationship

The impact of a sexual affair on a relationship can be substantial. The betrayed partner often experiences feelings of hurt, betrayal, and inadequacy. The breach of trust challenges the core of the relationship, potentially leading to communication breakdowns and insecurity. Rebuilding love after emotional damage necessitates time, open dialogue, and couples’ therapy. The emotional toll can be lasting, underscoring the importance of addressing the issue comprehensively to determine the future of the relationship.

different types of affairs
Among the different types of affairs, workplace infidelity is one

2. Romantic affair

Does an emotional affair with married man count as one of the successful extramarital affairs? Absolutely. An emotional affair originates innocently as a friendship and gradually transforms into a profound bond. It may even evolve into a romantic relationship, encroaching upon the territory of the marriage partner. All this takes place just so that emotional needs can be fulfilled.

While physical intimacy might not be initially involved, the strength of this extramarital relationship is potent. Developing an emotional attachment is easy, but detachment can be challenging. What may seem harmless due to the absence of sex can actually be more harmful. In due course, romantic infidelity may evolve into a sexual relationship.

Let’s look at the psychology of affairs with the help of findings: 15% of married women and 25% of married men confessed to indulging in extramarital sex. But when it comes to emotional infidelity in marriage, the numbers skyrocket. About 35% of women and 45% of men reported being in an emotional relationship at least once in their marriage. Intriguing, isn’t it?

Effect on relationship

When affairs turn to love, their effect is substantial. Romantic relationships outside marriage rupture trust and emotional connection, leading to feelings of betrayal, jealousy, and insecurity for the partner who discovers it. Emotional affairs highlight the importance of emotional connections and the need to protect the boundaries in a committed relationship. However, these could also be one of the affairs that lead to marriage.

3. Online affair

‘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. Among the types of adultery, this is the where:

  • You 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

In this modern age, 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 because this love affair doesn’t involve a real relationship.

Another interesting fact to see is that on dating apps, 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 for this double life 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.

Effect on relationship

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 different than the other types of cheating in a relationship, which is why it can sometimes be hard to catch.

But once caught, it can lead to feelings of guilt on both sides for a long time. The partner who had the affair usually feels guilty about the affair. The uninvolved partner may feel they pushed their partner into an affair by lacking something. This may result in low self-esteem and health issues like anxiety/depression.

affairs that lead to divorce
Cyber affair is one of the types of affairs that lead to divorce

4. Casual affair

By definition, a one-night stand is almost exclusively about sex. Does the length of an affair matter? Yes and that is why some 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.

They didn’t plan on doing it, it just ‘happened’. Perhaps when they had a drink or two, 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.

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.

Effect on relationship

Is a drunken one night stand forgivable? Most importantly, can a marriage survive multiple affairs or even one? Well, it’s possible to move past it, granted both partners are absolutely committed to making their relationship better.

Psychologist Nandita Rambhia says, “When rebuilding trust, the first step is to acknowledge that there has been damage. This can be a sensitive topic but it must be addressed. A lot of empathy is needed, from the person who has caused emotional damage, to acknowledge that he/she has been responsible for the distress of the other partner. It is important to give space and have a lot of patience and perseverance.”

Related Reading: How To Deal With A Lying Husband?

5. Escape affair

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. They just want some relief from the existing burden of responsibilities.

Effect on relationship

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.

Infographic on the 7 Types of affairs

6. Exit affair syndrome

The split self affair is the riskiest of the 7 types of affairs. Here the cheating party 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/physical needs are met with the affair partner, while their familial needs are met with the marriage partner
  • It is two parallel relationships 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

Most people get into new relationships because they are unhappy with their marriage, or at least that’s what they say. They are unable to figure out an exit strategy for some reason or the other; kids, alimony, conflict avoidance in marriage, etc.  Whatever the reason, they feel trapped in the marriage and are unable to get out of it. This is essentially how limerence and exit affairs work. This is why these are affairs that last a lifetime.

Effect on relationship

Are exit affairs ever successful? Well, according to research, the so-called successful extramarital affaires cause grief and relational problems to the individual, the couple and even their offspring. They were found to be associated with depression, anxiety and even PTSD, leading to divorce. Additionally, marital indiscretions were linked to domestic violence and increased exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

7. Long-term affair

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. Here are the classic characteristics of a womanizer:

  • Love addicts 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
  • Love addiction while married is like a drug for them; variety does become the spice of their lives
  • They easily get bored and have multiple sex partners

study points out that getting away with cheating makes people feel good. It is called the ‘cheater’s high.’ Doing something that’s unethical and prohibited makes people put their “want” self over their “should” self. Instead of considering the long-term consequences on their reputation or their relationship, their attention becomes solely focused on the immediate reward and short-term desires.

Effect on relationship

Are affairs addictive? Yes! Spouses of sex addicts have a difficult time coming to grips with this form of infidelity because it happens a lot and whatever they may promise, they fail to see it through. People most often get away with these illicit affairs, be it through business trips or staying up late with work spouse/co-worker. Many names come to mind, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Daniel Craig, to name a few. Remember how Rachel’s mother once told her, “Once a cheater, always a repeater”? Among the 7 types of affairs, this theory does apply to serial cheaters

Do Affairs Ever Work?

Reading about affairs when both partners are married or affairs that last over 10 years is well and good, but are there any affairs that work out? 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.

Related Reading: 7 People Share Stories Of Marriages That Survived Rough Patches

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.

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. However 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 come 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.

more on cheating

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.

Key Pointers

  • Some people are open-minded and sleeping with someone else is sanctioned in their marriage
  • Some cheat because of boredom and craving for a new life
  • The stealth attraction has both pros and cons
  • Some cheat for revenge and upper hand in their relationship
  • Two people having affair may go on to live happily forever

Hopefully, you learned a little about the types of betrayal in marriage. When a relationship falls victim to any of these (be it revenge affairs or accidental infidelity), 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.

Two people can repair trust after infidelity but it requires a lot of patience. Giving someone a second chance requires making your SO your best friend and forgiving them for their mistakes. It’s not that easy and your self respect may get in the way. But don’t worry, you’re not the only ones. Our compassionate and licensed counselors from Bonobology’s panel of experts have provided valuable support to many like you. Click here to reach out to them on your path to healing and growth!

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