13 Types of Affairs Everyone In a Troubled Relationship Should Know

by Lauren Cook-McKay | Last Updated: January 1, 2022
types of affairs

When you get married, the thought of infidelity isn't something you think you'll end up dealing with. No one wants to believe that the love of their life will cheat on them or that they'll engage in damaging marriage behavior. 

Contrary to popular belief, affairs are more common than you think. Not only that, but they're not exclusive to males cheating or vice versa. Anyone can engage in an affair and there is even websites for married people looking to have an affair.

However, what you may not know is that there's more than just one type of cheating. 

While no one wants to be in this position, marriages can survive affairs depending on the type and if both parties are willing to make it work. If you believe you or your partner may be engaging in an affair, it may help to understand the 13 types of infidelity. 

What Defines an Affair?

You can define an affair as any intense emotional and physical relationship with someone outside of marriage. 

Types of Affairs

As we mentioned, there's a lot more to affairs than cheating. No two affairs are precisely alike, and the people who engage in these activities have different reasons depending on the type. Take a look at the 13 various affairs and the characteristics they encompass. 

1. The One Night Stand Affair

The first type of affair to be aware of is the one night stand affair. These affairs are a one-time deal where one partner engages in intimacy with another person for one night only. 

These tend to happen when one spouse is away on business and meets someone in a bar or elsewhere. More often than not, the person engaging in these types of affairs has been drinking, but not always. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it easier for the person to have a one night stand. 

Often, the person having a one night stand doesn't plan on it happening before the act. Maybe they met someone in a bar, a business meeting, or elsewhere. The person cheating is usually caught up in the heat of the moment and normally wouldn't engage in this behavior. 

That being said, some people are purposely looking for a one night stand. These types of people may engage in this type of affair because they can remain anonymous, meaning it’s less likely they'll be caught and never see the person again. 

Something to keep in mind when you or your partner have had a one night stand is that more often than not, it doesn't come from a place of being dissatisfied with their partner. Nine times out of ten, it's the heat of the moment, and they let things get out of hand. Sometimes, though, it can signify a lack of excitement in a relationship.  

Key Takeaways
One night stand affairs tend to happen in the heat of the moment, and those who engage in these affairs don't always plan for them to happen.

2. Intimacy Avoidance Affair

When it comes to an intimacy avoidance affair, one or both partners in the marriage are afraid of being vulnerable, intimate, or emotionally close to one another. More often than not, only one person in the marriage is fearful of vulnerability, but there are times when both parties are.

The partner that cannot be emotionally close to their spouse will engage in an affair to keep themselves at a distance from their partner. The affair acts like an emotional barrier in the marriage. Both men and women can engage in an intimacy avoidance affair, but it's more common in men.

Often when men have an intimacy avoidance affair, they're afraid of losing their masculinity by being vulnerable with their spouse. These affairs typically don't last very long, but that doesn't mean there won't be more throughout the marriage. 

Even if an intimacy avoidance affair only lasts for a few months, the spouse will likely find someone new to have this type of affair with immediately, months, or years after the initial one ends. If they cannot get closer to their partner, these affairs will continue to happen. 

Something to remember about these types of affairs is that while it may seem like the spouse committing these acts doesn't care about their partner, that's not always true. Most of the time, they care about their partner so much that their fear of being emotional is too powerful. 

Key Takeaways
Someone who engages in an intimacy avoidance affair is scared to be vulnerable emotionally and sometimes sexually with their spouse. They use the affair as an emotional barrier in the marriage to keep themselves at a distance.

Read More: Cheating Wife Signs or Cheating Husband Signs

3. Conflict Avoidance Affair

Conflict avoidance affairs are more common in couples who are in their 20s and 30s. This type of affair stems from intense frustration with one another for one reason or another. Once frustration begins, lack of communication happens because both parties don't want to argue or fight. 

Even when there is frustration and poor communication, these affairs happen because someone has the opportunity to engage in them. Since conflict avoidance affairs mainly occur in the beginning years of marriage, a new job, preoccupation with a new baby, or similar factors usually stem from. 

The one participating in a conflict avoidance affair still loves their partner, but they're frustrated with the situation and end up cheating as a means to blow everything up. If the spouses cannot figure out how to work through their communication issues, these types of affairs will become more common. 

Many people who have this type of affair will continue to cheat throughout the marriage. If they end up divorced, they carry this pattern of behavior into their second or third marriages. Sometimes, spouses will come clean about their affairs and then go to couples therapy if they believe they can work things out. 

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Since a lack of proper communication is a substantial factor in a conflict avoidance affair, the couple will enter couples therapy before revealing the affair. They may enter because the faithful spouse feels something is off, and they want to work through it. It's only in therapy sessions that the cheating spouse will usually reveal their infidelity.

Key Takeaways
Conflict avoidance affairs stem from poor communication, budding frustrations, and opportunity. They tend to happen in younger and newly married couples who are dealing with career changes and babies.

4. Womanizer Affair

A womanizer affair refers to a man who continuously engages in sexual behavior with multiple women, despite being married. You can characterize a womanizer affair by the man in the relationship being handsome, charming, and quite popular among friends and strangers. 

picture of a man surrounded by beautiful women

These people tend to be manipulative, pathological liars, and emotionally abusive to their spouses. They may alter their personality to suit the needs of the woman they're trying to seduce. When a womanizer is habitually cheating on their spouse, they'll often be spinning webs of lies to keep their affairs a secret from their wife. 

The emotionally abusive aspect of this affair comes into play with the cheating spouse constantly lying. The wife may often sense something is odd or even realize that their spouse is cheating on them. They'll lie and emotionally manipulate their partner into staying with them or convince them that they're not doing anything wrong. 

Another quality of a womanizer is that they tend to be deeply insecure. They mask their insecurities by engaging in affairs with multiple women and feeling like they have power over making them fall for them or sleep with them. 

One thing that distinguishes a womanizer from a general unfaithful partner is that an unfaithful partner may be a one time deal. In contrast, a womanizer has a habitual pattern of cheating on their wife. 

Key Takeaways
Womanizer affairs happen when a man has habitual affairs with multiple women. Men who are womanizers tend to be charming, manipulative, liars, and seek out the thrill that having the power to seduce numerous women brings them. 

5. Maneater Affair

Just as there are men who have a string of affairs with women, there are women who habitually cheat on their husbands with other men. A maneater affair is essentially the same as a womanizer affair, except that instead of the husband cheating with multiple women, it's the wife cheating with numerous men. 

Like a womanizer, a maneater will use their good looks, charm, and attractiveness to seduce men who aren't her husband. Most of the time, women who are maneaters seek satisfaction from attracting these men. It's all about power and may feel like a game to the unfaithful partner.  

The woman may adamantly deny any affairs if her husband confronts her. They're not above lying and manipulating their partner to ensure they don't discover the affair. Even if the partner believes there's an affair going on, they'll resort to manipulation to make their partner stay with them. 

Key Takeaways
A maneater affair is almost identical to a womanizer affair. The main difference is that the wife is cheating in a maneater affair. They have affairs with multiple women throughout the marriage and use their charm to seduce men. 

6. Entitlement Affair

An entitlement affair is an interesting one. Entitlement affairs revolve around the cheating partner being attractive, popular, powerful, wealthy, and thriving within their careers. People start entitlement affairs when they come into some status and feel as if their role in their new status level is separate from their spouse and family at home. 

The person they're cheating with is usually attracted to these characteristics and perks that come with being with a successful and influential person. 

When one spouse is engaging in this type of infidelity, they feel some entitlement. They feel like despite being in a committed marriage, they're entitled to do what they want, with whoever they choose. Despite being married, they often feel entitled by their status to have more than one partner.

While this sense of entitlement may lead you to think these cheaters cheat with multiple women or men, in reality, these affairs tend to be long-term. Since they often love the perks of being with a successful person, it's no wonder they don't leave even if they know their partner is unfaithful to their spouse. 

It's common for narcissists to participate in this entanglement, but not everyone who has an entitlement affair is narcissistic.   

Key Takeaways
Entitlement affairs occur when the unfaithful spouse feels entitled to another partner due to their financial and social status. Narcissists often commit these affairs and feel no guilt when separating the two parts of their lives.

7. Romantic Affair

A romantic affair is probably the one you think of the most besides a one night stand situation. This type of infidelity is when one spouse is engaging in a romantic relationship with another person. They're doing everything they would, in theory, be doing with their spouse, but with another person. 

They're sharing their feelings, emotions and most likely engaging in sexual intimacy with this third party. When a spouse starts having a romantic relationship with someone else, it's not always planned. Most of the time, it simply happens when they're least expecting it

Most people who end up in this situation will fall for another person, and instead of refraining from initiating anything due to being married, they go forward with it. This type of affair can happen with men or women. 

These affairs can also be called affairs of the heart because even though they may be engaging in sexual intimacy, it involves the spouse and third party falling in love with one another. Even when someone does not mean for this to happen, it's a sign that something is missing in their marriage. 

Key Takeaways
Romantic affairs are when one spouse engages in emotional and physical relations with someone outside of their marriage. Most people don't plan on having a romantic affair, but they fall in love with the other person through consistent interaction.

8. Mid-Life Crisis Affair

You've heard of people having a mid-life crisis, but did you know that this crisis can bring on an extramarital affair? Of course, not everyone who experiences a mid-life crisis cheats on their spouse. Research shows that only 15% of people will experience a proper mid-life crisis. 

A mid-life crisis can happen for people between the ages of 45 and 65, meaning this is the age mid-life crisis affairs tend to occur too. The good news is that mid-life crises are relatively rare, so this type of infidelity is too. 

Men are more likely to have a mid-life crisis than women. Therefore, they are more likely to have a mid-life crisis affair. But that doesn't mean that a woman can't experience this feeling or engage in an affair. A mid-life crisis can be characterized by feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and stress for not feeling as accomplished as they may want by the age they're at. 

All of these feelings may drive them to look for a relationship outside of their marriage. Even if there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the marriage, these feelings of inadequacy can cause men to seek another partner to feel like they're moving forward in their life. 

These affairs aren't outcomes of a loveless marriage most of the time. This type of engagement happens primarily due to mental health issues brought on by a mid-life crisis. 

Key Takeaways
A mid-life crisis can bring about anger, anxiety, and depression, but it can also bring about mid-life crisis affairs. These affairs happen when someone seeks comfort from another person for feeling inadequate for where they're at in this stage of their life.

Read More: A Survival Guide to Staying with Someone Who Cheated

9. Coming Out Affair

A coming out affair is considered a romantic affair and somewhat challenging to overcome because it indicates a deeper issue within the marriage than a one night stand. These relationships tend to be long-term rather than short-lived. They occur when a long-term friendship has progressed to something more. 

Often when a coming out affair occurs, it's because one spouse is trying to experience the emotions they've been suppressing throughout their marriage. While it's not as common nowadays as it was years ago, when issues in marriage would arise, people would be told to “make it work.” 

These people would do whatever it took to keep their marriage “working,” even if it meant not living as they truly are. This is often when a man or woman realizes they're gay or may have known their whole lives and finally have the courage to have that emotional bond with another person. 

When they initially got married, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community may not have been as accepted today, so they felt trapped and pressured to marry the opposite sex for some reason. They often have an emotional bond to their spouse and don't want to hurt them, but they're grappling with living their authentic self. 

Key Takeaways
A coming out affair happens when someone finally feels free enough to experience their authentic self with someone they're legitimately attracted to. They may still have an emotional bond with their spouse, but they cheat due to experiencing a relationship with similar sexuality.

10. Exit Affair

You may have heard of an exit affair called an out-the-door affair. Men or women can find themselves in this situation. When someone is engaging in an exit affair, they're already decided in their heart that they want to leave the marriage, but they use their relationship with the other person to justify leaving. 

The type of people who typically find themselves in this situation are conflict avoiders. Whether it's because they aren't great at communicating, don't like communicating, or feel like trying to communicate with their spouse is hopeless, they will avoid talking about divorce at almost all costs. 

The issues in the marriage have been building for a while. The building issues prompt the conflict avoider to seek what they're missing from their spouse in someone else. The problems may have been building for months or may have started before they were officially married. The cheating spouse may experience a lot of guilt for wanting to leave the marriage and use infidelity as a reason to leave officially. 

Key Takeaways
In an exit affair, the cheating spouse has already decided to leave the marriage. They use their infidelity to justify divorcing their spouse.

11. Revenge Affair

Revenge affairs are what they sound like. When someone has a revenge affair, they cheat with the sole intention of hurting their spouse. The reasons they have for wanting revenge on their spouse may vary, but typically it's because their spouse cheated first. 

picture of a woman having a revenge affair

These affairs are common. More than a third of all people cheat on their spouse as some form of revenge. Of those people, women are more likely to revenge cheat on their spouses than men. This could be due to having stronger emotions and wanting their spouse to pay, or they don't know how else to make them do that. 

When either spouse cheats for revenge, they don't necessarily try to hide it from the other. The intention behind revenge cheating is to hurt the other person. The best way to do this is to tell them rather than let them find out on their own. 

Key Takeaways
Women are more likely to revenge cheat than men. The reason someone revenge cheats is that they want to hurt their partner for something they've done wrong intentionally.

12. Fictional Affair

While most affairs are emotional, physical, or both with someone a spouse has met, that's not always the case. Sometimes, a spouse will engage in fictional cheating. If it sounds strange, it's because it's not a very common type of affair. 

When someone is engaging in a fictional affair, they're essentially fantasizing about someone that's out of their reach. It could be a celebrity, a pornography actor or actress, another public figure, or someone they've made up in their mind. 

They're not physically cheating on their partner, but fictional cheating can be worse in some situations because emotionally, the spouse is no longer present. They'll imagine dating, talking, and being physical with this figure, and to them, it feels genuine. 

Despite being entirely made up, these affairs can be difficult to overcome since they're emotional. The faithful spouse may feel hurt that they're not living up to the expectation their spouse has in their mind. 

Key Takeaways
A fictional affair happens when someone fantasizes about a celebrity, public figure, or another person out of their reach. This is an entirely emotional affair but can negatively affect marriage as a physical one.

13. Sexual Addiction Affair

While many affairs are based around a lack of something within the marriage, a sexual addiction affair is strictly about suffering from addiction. Addiction is a disease, whether it's drugs, alcohol, or sex. 

More often than not, those who cheat due to sex addiction are happy within their marriages. The disease aspect of this affair drives them into the arms of several other people. Those who have a sex addiction are known for having affairs with numerous people, not just one or two. 

The spouse with a sex addiction may feel ashamed of their behavior because they feel like they can't stop the destructive behavior as much as they love their spouse. The good thing about this type of affair is that it's possible to overcome the challenges and come out a stronger couple in the end. 

Key Takeaways
Those who cheat due to a sex addiction tend to be more remorseful of their infidelity. Their obsession drives them to cheat, not the fact that there are problems within their marriage.

Read More: 11 Signs He Will Cheat Again

Next Steps After an Affair

After you or your partner have come clean or discovered the affair, what are you supposed to do after? Ultimately, it's up to you and your partner to decide how to proceed. The next steps may be different depending on whether you were cheated on or were the one cheating.

If You've Been Cheated On

It's never pleasant finding out that you've been cheated on. If you happen to be the spouse who remained faithful while your partner hasn't, you have some decisions regarding the marriage. 

You can choose to leave the marriage or try to work things out with your spouse. Regardless of which path you choose to take, there are steps you need to take: 

Key Takeaways
If you've found out that your partner is cheating on you, there are some decisions you'll need to make. Regardless of if you're leaving them or working things out, you'll want to get an STD screening, learn about infidelity, and seek counseling to help yourself heal.

Read More: How Do Cheaters React When Accused?

If You're the Cheater

If you're the one who's been unfaithful in your marriage, the first step after revealing the affair to your spouse is to apologize. Here are other helpful steps after the affair if you and your spouse decide to work it out together: 

Key Takeaways
When you're the one who is cheating on your spouse, coming clean is the first step if you plan to rebuild your marriage. From there, if they're willing to work things out, you'll need to go to couples therapy and attempt to rebuild the trust and connection you once had.

 
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She strongly believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn here.