This can be differentiated from an Infidelity which can be defined as a disloyal or unfaithful act that may or may not include sex; such as an emotional involvement with someone outside of the relationship.
In either case the end result is a breach of trust. How partners deal with that breach and heal from it will be the subject of futures Newsletters.
However, when there is a breach couples would do well to enter therapy. The meaning of the affair needs to be understood not only so that the relationship has a chance to heal but also for the relationship to ultimately grow stronger.
- Accidental Affairs: This type of encounter can happen when opportunity and poor judgment are working together. It is often the result of drinking, partying too much and curiosity. Poor judgment can lead the curious partner to stray and enter the realm of the one night stand.
- Avoiding Intimacy: A partner who has never been able to truly connect with his spouse in a deeper and meaningful way might enter an affair to maintain that distance. He/she may be unaware of the real issue.
- Long Term Affair: This type of affair can be ongoing for many years. It may in fact parallel the life of the marriage itself. A partner may even have offspring from such an affair. For example, a former television journalist, Charles Kuralt, was discovered to have raised an entire second family. He led this parallel life for many years and was only discovered after his death.
- Vengeful Affairs: In this type of affair the motivation is revenge. The partner who steps out of the relationship wants to get back at the other for some perceived wrongdoing. He/she may be holding a grudge about something that happened a long time ago but was never resolved. Perhaps the unfaithful partner has been feeling unappreciated, unloved or even humiliated by the behavior of the spouse and uses this to rationalize the affair
- Escape Affairs: Here the unfaithful partner has already decided to leave the marriage and uses the affair to make their exit. The thinking is that the marriage could not work so why not use the affair as a transition to divorce.
- Unhappy Marriage: An affair that emerges from an unhappy or unsatisfying relationship is often one where the complaint may be poor communication, emotional disconnection, and bad sex or even separate lives. Couples frequently dismiss their dissatisfaction as a part of life, argue unproductively over it or just simply learn to live with it.