Finding out that your partner is having an affair is a painful experience of betrayal. The road to repair is often long, emotionally draining, and fraught with ups and downs, but can ultimately lead to healing. Oftentimes, one of the first questions we hear a hurt partner ask, is “why?”
There are many different types of affairs, each with its reasons “why.” The goal of this article is not to cause more harm, make excuses, judge, or shame anyone. The hope is to offer a greater understanding of the characteristics of each type of affair with the hope that a greater understanding will help you on the journey toward healing.
Six Types of Affairs
The One-Night Stand
This type of affair is a one-time situation often due to a lack of good boundaries, drinking, or anonymity. There is no ongoing relationship with an affair partner. Most of the time, the betrayer will keep the one-night stand a secret to avoid hurting their spouse. In this type of infidelity, the betrayer often wants to stay in the marriage and make it work since there is no emotional attachment to the affair partner.
Fallen in Love
The unfaithful spouse believes that they have fallen in love with their affair partner. They are convinced that they will not be happy unless they can be with this other person…their “soul mate.” The betrayer will often re-write their marital story to say they were never happy in their marriage, to begin with. However, they also feel guilty about being in the affair. Many times, they will decide to stay in their marriage due to feeling guilty or thinking it is the right thing to do.
This type of betrayal consists of ongoing extramarital, sexual behaviors such as frequenting strip clubs, watching pornography, compulsive masturbation, prostitution, having multiple sexual partners, etc. Often, this type of affair is not about the marriage and the unfaithful spouse will want to save their relationship. Typically, they are enslaved by their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors to meet and satisfy their sexual longings. These behaviors have usually been in place longer than the relationship and would have happened regardless of their marital status. Often, sexual addiction must be treated before the marriage can be fully repaired.
Wanting the Marriage and the Affair
This type of infidelity occurs when the unfaithful spouse integrates the affair partner (AP) into their life. There is a notion that they can have their marriage and the AP…it’s the infamous “have their cake and eat it too” situation. In this arrangement, the unfaithful spouse has no intention of leaving their spouse or ending the affair. At times they may even financially support the AP. They often will report having high marital satisfaction and will choose to stay in the marriage over the AP after discovery is made. The level of betrayal and lies in this type of affair is so great. It can be difficult for the mate to feel any hope of ever trusting the unfaithful spouse again because they have kept an entire portion of their lives from their partner.
There are times when friends or co-workers go too far. In this scenario, the affair partner provides emotional support to the unfaithful spouse that is then hidden from their mate through a web of lies. A lack of sexual involvement may allow the unfaithful spouse to try and justify the relationship with the AP. The betrayal felt by the hurt party is just as real as if the sexual activity were involved. You can read more about emotional affairs here.
This is characterized by the compulsion to move from relationship to relationship to feel a love that never ends, however unrealistic that may be. This type of affair is more common among females seeking to find “the one.” The unfaithful spouse appears ambivalent to their marriage and will attest that their AP is their soul mate, not seeing any of their flaws. This cycle will continue until the unfaithful spouse seeks help for this obsession and compulsion for that feeling of being in love.
No matter the type of affair, all affairs hurt. It may seem hopeless that there can be recovery. However, with professional help, dedication, and work, you and your relationship can be healed.
We specialize in infidelity recovery and are here to help. Schedule an appointment today to begin the healing process.
Also, check out our other related articles: Nine Initial Steps to Move Forward After the Affair, and The Seven Dreadful Actions: What Not To Do After An Affair.