Types of Extramarital Affairs

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As circumstances regarding the workplace, typical family life and modes of communication have changed over the years, so have threats to relationship fidelity. Thanks to a growing awareness of emotional and Internet affairs, the question of how an individual can cheat has been added to the complicated question of why.

The One-Sided Affair

Not just a physical thing, this type of affair signifies a genuine relationship to one individual, while the other often does not treat it as such. In one-sided affairs, an unattached woman may date a married man, waiting for the day he leaves his wife for her. However, many of these women may pine for his full attention on the surface only. Subconsciously, a woman might lean toward this arrangement because she mistrusts men and thinks that by being the other woman, she affords herself some guarantee that he is not cheating on her, according to psychologist Stephanie Newman in her "Psychology Today" article, "Why Women Want Married Men."

Friends First

Psychologist Shirley Glass reports in the introduction of her professional website that in 82 percent of counseling situations she has experienced involving infidelity, the cheating began with friendship. This type of affair can prove particularly difficult to move past, as the dalliance usually springs from a deep emotional connection and therefore bears the hallmarks of a real relationship. Affairs such as these that engage both the mind and body are most likely to end in divorce and then remarriage, reports psychologist Douglas LaBier in the "Psychology Today" article, "Having an Affair? There Are Six Different Kinds."

All About the Emotional

Arguably the hardest extramarital affair to classify as such, the emotional affair does not entail what many still consider to be a necessary ingredient of cheating -- the physical. This type of circumstance can develop when co-workers or friends, growing increasingly close, begin sharing details and feelings with one another that never make it home to their spouses. A typical sign that the arrangement is an emotional affair rather than a non-romantic friendship is that the parties would feel uncomfortable if the spouse of either unexpectedly entered the room. In some cases, the situation never segues into the sexual because the individuals involved do not want to risk breaking up their marriages.

For the Thrill

The most common type of affair, according to LaBier, is the one that centers on lust. While these dalliances are usually bursting with passion, they also usually die out quickly with no strong emotional component to substantiate them. While physical attraction, in isolation, can be the motivation for these affairs, so can the excitement of sneaking around and being with someone new. The realization by those involved that they have little ground for communication can hasten the end of the affair.