What is an affair? It is a sexual encounter, romantic connection, or obsessive attachment between two people without a significant other’s knowledge. It can come in many forms but all of them have the underlying issue of a betrayal of trust, unfaithfulness to a commitment, and infidelity of the relationship. Sometimes it destroys the initial relationship and other times the relationship can survive.

While some men and women can have numerous affairs over a lifetime, most have affairs for different reasons and at different stages of their lives. There are many different type of affairs that couples need to be on the lookout for, and understand what boundaries are important to them.

Sexual Affair

The sexual affair is the most popular and the most common affair. You know that you are unfaithful, but are still doing it anyway. It is a casual fling to satisfy your sexual fantasies and desires because you do not feel like you are being fulfilled at home. For a lot of these affairs, there is no interest in it beyond sex and they avoid any kind of emotional attachment with the fling. The life of these affairs is limited to the satisfaction of your sexual needs. While they might be one off affairs that do not last long, they are incredible detrimental to a relationship. They affect a partner deeply because sex and intimacy form the foundation of a committed relationship.

Double Life Affair

This type of infidelity occurs when the cheater has very little emotional attachment to the person they are dating. Their partnership is more like a business partnership, or they feel they are just living with a roommate.  They are committed to their partner in a sense that they are making it work to survive, but they long for something they don’t have. This could be intimacy, emotional connection, romance or the like. If opportunities present themselves, this partner will likely get their unmet needs met by someone else and try to keep it secret so that their arrangement, even as imperfect as it is, is not disturbed. They compartmentalize the affair and live a “double life”. They become masters at lying and manipulation, by pretending to be committed to their partner but having a full relationship with another.

Emotional Affair

This type of marital affair can be just as, if not more so, shocking and destructive as a sexual affair.    The lack of physical involvement is often used as a rationalization as to why it’s not it’s not an affair.  People involved in emotional affairs will oftentimes become outraged at the suggestion that an affair may be occurring with “my best friend who just happens to be someone of the opposite sex”.  They have become so invested in thinking it’s only a close friendship that they cannot see how they could possibly be hurting their partner. However, the emotional intensity of this type of relationship and what it drains from the real relationship is much more than what happens with just a best friend. It is not a friendship, because it crosses lines by having flirty exchanges. The person may also go their “best friend” to find emotional support, rather than the person they are dating.

Catch-Up Affair

This happens specifically to people who married young or didn’t get much other sexual experience prior to their relationship; therefore they have a strong curiosity to sleep with someone else. They might be completely happy with their partner but feel like they missed out on experiences others got to have. Most young adults have enjoyed their party days and gotten to make mistakes in other relationships that helped guide them in seeing what relationship they wanted for the future. In these affairs, there typically isn’t anything wrong in the relationship but they still have that feeling in their gut that the grass might be greener on the other side. When an individual starts to believe they could possibly deserve better, this is often a danger sign for any couple.

Online Affairs

Online affairs is the act of committing adultery with your eyes, so while  there might not be any physical touch there is a strong emotional connection that betrays the relationship. Online relationships can stem from someone you already know or someone you met in a chat room, dating site, or the like. The internet is so vast these days that it is easy to connect with old flings, or find company in niche circles. With the addition of pornography and live videos, there are many couples that have had to serous conversations about what is ok and what isn’t. It’s often deceiving and easy for those doing it to not think seriously of because they’re not committing a physical act. The more you connect with others online, however, the more likely it will progress to something in offline as well.

Uncommitted Affairs

As we grow up, we see all types of relationships around us from our parents, aunts and uncles, and even our friends. Many people grew up in homes that had divorced parents, or saw only examples of unhealthy relationships. We take these things we learn and apply it to relationships as adults, because those relationships are strong examples we get influenced by. They may never have received love in a healthy way, and therefore when they enter their first healthy relationship they tend to self-sabotage. If your partner struggles to attach to you in a normal way, this might be an issue down the line.

Regardless of what type of affair has occurred, this is painful and detrimental to the relationship. Each affair should be treated as a betrayal of trust and not excused for a lack of physical intimacy. Going to a counselor and finding the reasons why the affair happened may help to save the relationship, however there are instances where the trust can’t be restored and the relationship has to fizzle out. Whatever you decided to do, make sure it is what will make you happy in the long run.

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