What is an affair? It is a sexual encounter, romantic comrade, or obsessive attachment between two people without a significant other’s knowledge. It can come in many forms but all of them have the underlying issue of a betrayal of trust, unfaithfulness to a commitment, and infidelity of the relationship. Sometimes it destroys the initial relationship and other times the relationship can survive.
Over the years of counseling thousands of people, there have been many incidents of affairs in my clients. Some happened in the past, some in the present, and others are in the process of being contemplated for the future. The type of affair is important as it identifies what area a person needs to address in their own life to prevent it from happening again in the future. Here are the 13 types I have seen.
- One-nighter affair: This affair begins as a product of convenience. Two people are sexually interested in each other with the means, opportunity, and desire to have an affair. It can happen while away on a business trip with the thought that, ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. It is a one-time encounter between two people who are not likely to meet again.
- In-charge affair: One or both parties in this type of affair view sex as an opportunity to exert power or control over another person or situation. It is often seen in a work environment where a supervisor is having sex with a subordinate. Either or both are engaged in the affair to gain the upper hand on the other person and exert dominance.
- Fictional affair: Not all affairs happen in the physical sense, some are in the mind and purely fantasy. A person can imagine having sex with another person and feel some sort of connection that is solely fictional. This is often done when a person is looking at pornography, a public figure, movie star, or someone outside of their real reach.
- Escape affair: Some people believe that they only way out of a relationship or marriage is to have an affair with another person. This type of affair is their escape hatch. Instead of confronting the relational problems head-on, this passive-aggressive affair is their way of getting out easily.
- Emotional affair: Rather than having an intimate, emotional connection with their spouse/partner, this person chooses to have an emotional affair with someone outside of the relationship. They share their thoughts, feelings, daily activities, and dreams with the other person in exchange for support, love, concern, and empathy. This is not necessarily a physical affair but can lead to one easily.
- Superglue affair: Some affairs result in a deep connection that binds two people together in mind and body. This is a hard affair to stop and usually destroys marriages. Those in this affair say that they were ‘made for each other’ and ‘should have been together’. Even when they try to give the affair up, they often return to each other.
- Compulsive affair: This type of affair is more about meeting the addictive needs of a person rather than about the other people involved. The constant need for sex drives thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to seek out nearly any and every opportunity. This is often linked to sexual addiction and is done to fulfill the addictive need.
- Revenge affair: This is another type of passive-aggressive affair where a person is so upset by the infidelity of their spouse/partner that they seek out and have an affair as revenge. It is a ‘you hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you’ affair. The greater the hurt, the more this person will act out an even larger betrayal such as having sex with a close friend or co-worker.
- Naïve affair: Some people naively enter an affair believing that the other person will leave their spouse/partner in exchange for them. This rarely happens. Most of the time the person having the affair will remain with their spouse/partner and string the other person along for as long as they can.
- Opportune affair: This affair occurs out of a series of opportune moments such as having an affair with a family member of the spouse/partner or friend. Because the other person is around so much and is trusted by the spouse/partner, there is a more informal, relaxed environment that can lend itself to infidelity. Added to that is the excitement of having the affair and keeping it secret from someone who is so close.
- Lustful affair: This type of affair is all about sex. It is done out of intense emotion such as desire, rage, or infatuation. There is no attachment, however, it may happen more than one time or with different partners. It feels like an uncontrollable urge to ‘have it right now’ that is not satisfied any other way other than sex.
- Pursuing affair: For some people, an affair is all about the chase or tease. They want to know that they are desired by others, so they seek out opportunities to go after someone else. While it doesn’t always end up in a physical affair, the thoughts and emotions to take it there make it a pursuing affair as they imagine the possibilities.
- Thrilling affair: For some people, the answer to their boring relational life is to add some excitement. This can come in the form of a thrilling affair done to satisfy the need for stimulation or adventure. The tension that results from this affair adds drama and uproar to what is a dull relationship.
Recovering from an affair is hard work but worth it in the end. Whether or not the initial relationship survives, it is important to deal with the underlying issues that led to the affair so the pattern is not repeated in other relationships going forward.