The 6 Different Types of Affairs (And Why You Might Be Having One Right Now)
Infidelity gets two entries in the Ten Commandments, so it must be really bad…right?
While some men and women have numerous affairs over a lifetime, most have affairs for different reasons, at different stages of their lives.
According to principal psychologist and counsellor at The Relationship Room, Rachel Voysey, there are six main types of affairs, and if we believe the statistics that say roughly 50 percent of people will have sex outside of their primary relationship, then that is a lot of infidelity happening right now!
I spoke in depth to Voysey, a supporter of the research and methods of the world’s most well-known and esteemed relationship counsellor, Dr John Gottman, to understand more about the six key affair types and why they happen time and time again.
1. The emotional affair
This sexless affair might sound harmless enough but as Voysey says, it can actually be one of the most damaging affairs to a relationship.
“I counsel individuals who tell me ‘it can’t really be an affair because we have never had sex’, but then proceed to tell me how they have a whole imagined future with this person. They might have shared intimate personal details over many months or even years, with no topic off-limits. How they would survive financially, where they would live. It is often a very deep relationship and very difficult to break away from.”
2. The lust-only affair
This could be as simple as a one-night-stand or a couple of sexual experiences with the same person and as Voysey says, it is all about chasing the thrill of illicit sex.
“In my experience, it can be harder for women to have ’just sex’ with someone without emotion coming into play but I am starting to see more women compartmentalizing their feelings to enjoy lust-based affairs. This type of affair might start with a one-off fling and progress to regular meet-ups for sex only. It can lead on to a more emotional affair if a strong attachment forms between the couple.”
3. The second relationship
The second relationship affair is exactly as it describes – one partner is having an emotional, sexual and all-consuming affair with someone else. In Voysey’s experience the majority of individuals having a second relationship are in unhappy marriages they don’t know how to get out of.
“Perhaps they married their current partner at a young age and they consider this new relationship to be the ‘real deal’, or the person a ‘soulmate’. I hear that this is the ‘right person, wrong time’ or ‘I have never felt like this before’ when counselling someone going through this type of affair, and often the person involved wants to leave their current partner to start again. Sometimes this is exactly what happens when both unfaithful partners agree to this path, but it can be a very difficult way to start a relationship as trust issues can creep in later on.”
4. A one-sided affair
Some couples might be cruising along in marriage when out of the blue one partner is tempted into an affair by someone intent on pursuing them for an affair. “I see couples where the unfaithful party is almost surprised by their own behavior saying ‘I wasn’t unhappy, I wasn’t looking for an affair, but it just happened!’”
Voysey says that it all depends how strong someone is in the face of temptation.
“It might be someone at work or on a conference who shows desire for the person that ultimately they couldn’t resist, even if they were supposedly happily coupled up. The other partner had no idea anything was wrong with the partnership, which makes it hard to move on from.”
5. The post-crisis affair
The post-crisis affair occurs after a huge and unprecedented change in someone’s life that as Voysey says, leaves them reeling and asking ‘who am I?’
“It could be the death of their mother or a close friend, a personal health crisis or redundancy at work. Something that creates upheaval and opens up a lot of questioning and soul searching that can lead on to a need ‘to feel again’ with someone new.”
6. The catch-up affair
The sixth type of affair is limited to people who married young or didn’t get much other sexual experience and have a strong curiosity to sleep with someone else.
“They might be happy with their partner but feel like they missed out on ‘sowing the wild oats’ when they were younger so the only option left open to them now is to have an affair. This can be quite sad as the couple might otherwise be happy and affairs though exciting, can end up proving their primary relationship was really good.”
While all affairs are different, most of them spring from unhappiness or a distinct lack of communication. Voysey states that while some couples might be genuinely miserable with both parties feeling their needs are going unmet, other couples are just living parallel lives where it is all about logistics and very little fun. Something to watch out for might be when resentment creeps in to regular thought.
“When an individual starts to believe they ‘deserve better’, this is often a danger sign for any couple. I mostly talk to and treat people once the affair has started or the marriage is deeply in trouble. I wish that more people would seek help earlier on, as it is much easier to turn a relationship around before the crisis of an affair hits.”
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