6 Different Types Of Affairs You Might Be Having Without Knowing It

There's more than one way to describe cheating.

Last updated on Feb 12, 2023

woman flirting with man at work LightField Studios / Shutterstock

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 counselor at The Relationship Room, Rachel Voysey, there are six main types of affairs, and if we believe the statistics that say about 40% of people will have sex outside of their primary relationship, then that is a lot of infidelity happening right now! 


RELATED: 7 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Likeability

I spoke in depth to Voysey, a supporter of the research and methods of the world’s most well-known and esteemed relationship counselor, Dr. John Gottman, to understand more about the six key affair types and why they happen time and time again.


Here are six different types of affairs that you might be having without knowing:

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, and 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 to a more emotional affair if a strong attachment forms between the couple.”


RELATED: 55% Of This Type Of Men Cheat In Their Relationships

3. The side-relationship affair

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 counseling 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 on how strong someone is in the face of temptation.

“It might be someone at work or at 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.”


RELATED: The Harsh Reason Wives Cheat On Their Faithful Husbands

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 and betrayals 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 is when resentment creeps into 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.”

RELATED: The Most Important Questions To Ask Yourself After Catching Your Spouse Cheating

Laura Jackel is a writer who focuses on love and relationships. Her work has been published by Mamamia, Sunday Life Magazine, Essential Kids, The Telegraph, and The Guardian.