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7 Main Types of Affairs and Their Impact on Relationships

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “affair”? Having a sexual relationship with someone other than one’s official partner, right? That would be the most common definition of an affair, but the there are several other types, happening just as often.

According to relationship experts, there are actually 7 types of affairs. Depending on their reasons, lifestyles, personalities and so on, people “choose” the type of affair they want to be in. Some people might choose infidelity because they are bored, others might feel unappreciated by their partners, others might want to feel attractive again and a new person is their way of experiencing that feeling again. Some might like the excitement that comes with sneaking with another person, others might be afraid of intimacy.

One thing is for sure: the world of infidelities is quite complex, as are cheaters’ motivations. Should you ever find yourself in a precarious situation, it helps to find out more about the different types of affairs and their possible effects on one’s relationship.

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  1. Sexual affair

Sexual affairs are among the most common types of infidelity. Generally, this refers to physical connections without any feelings involved. Such affairs are considered occasional flings and hookups with no emotional importance; the focus is solely on one’s primal desires.

Usually, sexual affairs are tightly kept under wraps, for some, the excitement of having a hidden affair being the main reason for cheating.

Effect on relationship

A sexual affair can have a significant impact on one’s relationship. The cheated person might feel resentment, anger, hurt, disrespected. After all, it is a major breach of trust between partners. For some, a sexual affair is something they cannot move past; while others believe there is still a chance for reconciliation when no feelings have been involved in the affair.

  1. Emotional affair

An emotional affair usually starts quite innocently and, in time, it can turn into a deeper connection between the people involved. It may also transform into something romantic, which includes sexual encounters. The main reason behind emotional affairs is one’s emotional needs not being met by their partner.

It is claimed that emotional affairs are much stronger than sexual affairs. That’s because people involved in the extramarital affair connect on a deeper level. This type of connection can even turn into real relationships that often lead to marriages.

As per statistics, 15% of married women and 25% of married men admitted to having sexual affairs. Ready to see the numbers for emotional affairs? Here goes: 35% of married women and 45% of married men confessed to having been involved in at least one emotional affair throughout their marriage.

Effect on relationship

Emotional affairs are the ones that can turn into real relationships, marriages, therefore their effect is huge. Such affairs, when discovered, can lead to jealousy, insecurity and feelings of betrayal in the cheated partner.

The fact that more people have emotional affairs than sexual ones, reiterates the importance of maintaining and developing an emotional connection with your partner no matter how new or old your relationship might be.

  1. Online affair

According to statistics, men have been more inclined to have extramarital affairs. However, with the continuous development of the online world, recent statistics have shown a shift in the number and gender of cheaters.

As a general definition, an online affair is a virtual relationship with another person, that is not one’s partner. The people involved in the online affair share all sorts of private information about themselves, from personal experiences, to relationship with their spouse, feelings, fears, life goals etc. In other words, those involved in the online relationship become confidants and start to build a strong emotional connection. Sexting and virtual sex can happen too.

Digital affairs can sometimes cross the virtual world into the real one, but in general, it all remains under wraps, in the comfort of one’s own home.

It is a very common type of affair as it can be entertained from basically anywhere. Not to mention it is rarely discovered, as it doesn’t happen in real life.

Effect on relationship

Digital affairs, as with the use of mobile phones in general, can become highly addictive. It means ignoring the real-life partner in favor of the virtual one. This can lead to feelings of hurt, isolation, disrespect and can create a rift between the two real-life partners.

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  1. Casual affair

Casual affairs generally refer to one-night stands or no-strings-attached flings. No emotional connection, just a physical relationship, usually with someone you haven’t met before. It is usually a one-time hookup that does not involve many arrangements, just the consent of the two people involved.

Read also: Infidelity Experts Shared 6 Things Most Cheaters Secretly Do

Effect on relationship

Just because it is a one-time thing, is a one-night stand easier to forgive? The answer may vary from one person to another. However, relationship experts agree that people tend to be more forgiving when it comes to casual affairs and similar transgressions from their partners.

As explained by psychologist Nandita Rambhia, “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.”

  1. Escape affair

This type of affair, according to experts, takes place when one of the partners is going through a stressful phase. Escape affairs occur due to a stressful event at work, family crisis, loss of a close person, and the person affected by such events feels the need for a distraction. It is usually an affair that happens when someone is in a vulnerable stage, and tries to find a way to cope with a bad situation.

Effect on relationship

Even in escape affairs might seem like something light, a breath of fresh air, just like any other type of affair, it only adds more stress to one’s life. Being forced to lie and cheat but also living with the guilt of having been unfaithful (in some cases), can create even more chaos in one’s life.

Such an affair can significantly affect partners, making them distance themselves both physically and emotionally. One way to prevent such affairs, according to experts, is to make sure partners nourish their emotional connection and offer emotional help when one needs it.

Check out these: 6 Ways to Tell You Have a Faithful Partner

  1. Exit affair

As explained by relationship experts, this type of affair is one of the riskiest types. Why? Because the cheater has built a strong and deep connection with the person they are having the affair with, in terms of body, mind and even soul. In other words, the unfaithful partner is in love. From this moment on, whatever the spouse is doing, is wrong in the eyes of the cheating partner, as they can only think of ways to exit the current relationship to be with the other person.

Unfortunately for the cheater, it is usually impossible for them to divorce or separate from their partners, so they start living a double life. One in which the familial needs are met by the official partner and the physical and emotional needs are met by the mistress/lover.

Effect on relationship

Do exit affairs end up in marriages with the affair partner? It depends. In some cases, the affair partners have a strong connection and are willing to risk it all to be together, regardless of their families at home. In other cases, the affair is not worth leaving the comfort of their current life.

Whatever the outcome, such affairs, as experts explain, causes grief and hurt to all parties involved. Cheated partners can ed up with depression, anxiety and PTSD.

  1. Long-term affair

A long-term affair is fairly similar to an exit affair, from the emotional and physical perspective. The only difference is that in a long-term affair, affair partners do not usually end up together. This means that the cheaters choose to stay with their primary partners and have another relationship on the side. If undetected, affairs like these can go a long way, with affair partners carrying on their lives as if nothing happened.

This type of affair usually happens between people who have a history together, like exes, co-workers or old friends.

Effect on relationship

It goes without saying that a long-term affair on one’s relationship can have devastating effects on one’s relationship. The discovery that the person you’re living with, sharing a family, having the same goals, led a double life, can leave the betrayed partner in complete disarray, feeling hurt, betrayed, full of anger or doubt. Not to mention that the relationship can end abruptly.

See also: 9 Biggest Mistakes Most Women Make In Their Relationships


According to statistics, 5-7% of affair partners get married to each other, and of those, 75% usually divorce again. These figures only come to prove that affairs, in the long term, do not seem to be successful.

That being said, putting an end to a relationship or starting a new one is not necessarily why people enter affairs in the first place. Depending on the type of affair they “embark” in, people are driven by certain reasons. Each type of affair serves a different purpose to the people involved, aka the unfaithful people; some are in it for the physical gratifications, some because they feel lonely, some because they need some excitement in their lives.

What everyone should know is that no matter the type, the impact on the primary relationship can be devastating, if not fatal.

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