Not all affairs are equal. There are different types of affairs and the causes are often very different. What is the same is the dishonesty and the keeping of secrets that breaks the bond of oneness and leaves us wondering if we will ever be a “we” again, no matter what type of affair that we are dealing with.
Let’s take a look at the different types of affairs.
Different types of affairs can require unique processes for healing and recovery. The road back to oneness and trust can be different for each type of affair. It’s not that one affair is worse that another, or that any type of affair is acceptable. But, realistically, some types of affairs require a longer recovery and rebuilding period than do others. Sometimes more intensive marriage help is needed than at other times.
- One-Night Stand. A one-night stand is more about convenience or opportunity. It does not necessarily involve pre-planning or emotional involvement. It “just happens” because the opportunity presents itself. May times alcohol is involved and the participants are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (H.A.L.T.) The betrayer most often swears to put this in the past and never tell his/her spouse about it because it “didn’t mean anything”. In spite of this, the betrayer can carry guilt and shame which affects them and their marriage. It is advisable to get professional counsel to identify the root of the behavior and to deal with the guilt and shame.
- Fallen In/Out of Love. Most often you will hear the betrayer in this type of affair say, “I love my spouse. I’m just not ‘in love’ with them’”. What has happened is that they have “fallen in love” with someone else and believe that they can never be happy in their present marriage, regardless of getting marriage coaching or attending a marriage seminar or other types of marriage help. Their emotions are so intense and powerful that they may sacrifice all that they have worked for in their life and marriage to be with their new lover. These feelings are often accompanied by feelings of guilt for not being faithful to their spouse and concern over what leaving the children would do to them. They feel torn and can become indecisive, unable to make up their mind whether to stay in the marriage or leave for their affair partner.
- Double Life. In this type of affair, the betrayer enjoys and wants the benefits of having both their spouse and their affair partner. Their marriage is considered to be satisfying and they have a good spouse. Their affair partner generally believes that the betrayer will leave their spouse eventually to be with them. When the affair is brought to light, however, this rarely happens. The betrayer may very consider themselves to be in a “Semi-Happy Marriage” – too safe to leave, too boring to stay. They compartmentalize their life and a double life is led. In one life, they raise the kids, pay the bills, participate in church and civic duties. In the other life with their affair partner, they engage in fun and romantic activities.
One with the spouse which may revolve around “real life” activities like raising the kids, paying the mortgage, etc… and a second life with the affair partner which may revolve around “fun life” and romantic activities. The cheating spouse may be very content in this type of arrangement. Between the two (or more) people in his/her life, their needs are likely being completely met because no one of them could meet them alone. This person wants the benefits of having both their marriage and their affair. If discovered, they will choose their marriage over their affair, however.
- “Just” Friends. This is often referred to as an emotional affair. The relationship is justified and explained as an opposite friendship, however it goes far beyond being friends. The betraying spouse shares information with the “friend” that should be exclusive to the marriage. This type of marital affair can be just as much a betrayal, if not more so, than a sexual affair. The lack of sexual involvement is often used as a rationalization as to why it’s not it’s not an affair. The betrayer may be so deeply involved in this emotional affair that they truly believe that this is simply a close friendship. Their “friend,” however, is fulfilling intimate emotional needs that only a spouse should fulfill. In fact, this person has a greater level of emotional intimacy with the affair partner than with their mate. The unfaithful spouse may even become more protective of their affair partner than of their mate. This type of affair is most often discovered when there is an errant text or email that reveals the emotional depth and intensity of the relationship.
- Serial Cheater/Sex Addict. The serial cheater has a habitual pattern of extramarital sexual behaviors – strip clubs, illicit massage parlors, viewing pornography, excessive masturbation, prostitutes, etc. Most often these behaviors were present before the marriage, but stopped for a while after the marriage before beginning again. Most of these sex addicts describe themselves as relatively happy in their relationship and want their marriage. However, they’ve never been able to find complete fulfillment from it because they are enslaved by obsessive needs and compulsive behaviors. As difficult to believe as it is, sex addicts truly feel powerless in their ability to control their desires. Typically, the betrayer wants to save their marriage, but still have a compelling drive to look elsewhere to meet their needs. They will experience times of sobriety in which they do not engage in the compulsive behaviors, only to relapse. Frequently the betrayer deals with a deep sense of guilt and shame. Until the chains of shame are broken, the shameful behavior will repeat itself creating more shame in a vicious cycle.
- Romance Addict. Romance addiction, the tendency to crave infatuation, tends to occur more frequently with females than with males. The romance addict is addicted to falling in love. Love addiction marital affairs differ from sex addict marital affairs in that, although they have an addictive quality to them, they are more about the intensity of a new relationship than sex (although sex is often involved). Love addicts tend to move from one relationship to the next and they will oftentimes feel very uncomfortable or lost if they are not involved in an intense relationship. This kind of affair can be an obsession that is not reciprocated with the cheater feeling that they’ve married the wrong person and spending up to 80% of their time thinking about their obsession.
As M. Scott Peck, in his book, A Road Less Traveled, points out, “falling in love” is not love at all. It is not even about the other person. It is how the other person makes one feel about oneself. True love is about knowing the other person an letting the other person know you. The romance addict mistakes the feelings of “falling in love” with healthy intimacy which is about knowing another person and letting another person know you.
- Get Even. This describes affairs done in retaliation for a partner’s affair or due to mistreatment by the marital partner. In some cases, a betrayed spouse has an affair to “even the score” — and may make sure that their cheating spouse knows they did it. This only compounds the trauma and the damage done by the original betrayal. These actions almost always lead to separation and divorce.
While this blog identifies 7 types of affairs, it is most often the case that there are a combination of these types present in infidelity. Recovery is possible, but generally not without the marriage help to take the steps necessary to heal and reconcile in a healthy manner. LoveRecon provides the environment and the tools to help you do just that!