Do you often hear stereotypes such as “All Men Cheat”? “Every Woman I have Been with Cheats on Me? “You Cannot Trust Anyone to be Faithful.“
As a psychotherapist. I have heard people mention each of these stereotypes. My experience, however, over the last 30 years of working with literally thousands of people has allowed me to observe three of the most common affairs that occur in relationships. Also. It seems that both men and women can cheat. It is usually the one that is in the most pain or the partner that comes across another when feeling vulnerable.
Types of Affairs
1. The Man/Womanizer -Types of Affairs
The most common type of affair is the Man/Womanizer. Usually, men or women who get involved in these types of affairs have difficulty maintaining a long-term intimate attachment. They enjoy the initial part of a relationship when the other is perfect, the excitement just at the thought of the other and steamy sex. Most people enjoy this part of a relationship, however, are able to allow the relationship to develop into a solid relationship of allowing their partner to know them flaws and all. Mystery, distance, and chemistry can provide for the best fantasies about a person. Usually, the fantasy person is a projection of the needs of the partner having an affair. As mystery decreases, passion can wane. Often people who have these types of affairs have multiple chasing the high of the excitement and intensity.
Usually, these individuals have difficulty being a couple and dealing with lower levels of drama and excitement. So when the excitement begins to diminish. Either gender can stray to find the high of a new relationship.
2. Distance and Loneliness within the Relationship-Type of Affairs
Most people like to have time for themselves in a relationship. However, becoming lonely in a relationship can feel worse than being alone. Usually one or both of the partners need for sexuality or companionship grows. Some couples discuss their situation but the distance grows. Angry outbursts and fights of frustration can grow but many couples cannot reconnect. At some point in the relationship when one or the other is at their wit’s end, they begin to feel vulnerable to other people outside of the relationship. Usually, they run into someone equally as vulnerable who they become attracted to and an affair ensues. Even if the affair ends, and they have not dealt with the unmet need within the marriage to get some satisfaction; it is easy for another affair to begin. Many well-meaning friends say” Why did you not end the relationship and move on! However, for some couples, it is difficult to leave relationships. These affairs can often end in divorce. However, if each partner becomes involved with someone who is more comparable to their sexual or companionship needs they can stay faithful to the other.
3. You Want Your Marriage but You Cannot Tolerate Unmet Need
This type of affair is similar to one above. It is usually based on one or both of the partners feeling alone, experiencing unmet sexual or companionship needs. The difference in this type of affair is that the partner can have a long-standing affair in order to stay in their primary relationship. The person who has had an affair in a relationship is often categorically thought of as the “bad one”. It is important however to take a look at the dynamics in a relationship and perhaps dig deeper into the why an affair has occurred. It is often not easy to end a long-standing relationship and the affair can either be a means to an end or a means to keep the relationship.
4. Psychological Growth and Development
People who are in long-term relationships can often grow and develop in ways that complement the other. However, some feel they have worked beyond what they can give and receive in their primary relationship. Often these people wish they could have discussed this with their partner but feel it will hurt them. The silence and distance grow and one or the other comes upon someone more suited for them which results in affairs.
5. The Best Way to Avoid an Affair
If each couple can talk about what they feel about the relationship. It is possible that issues can be addressed or perhaps a separation can be planned. Unfortunately, talking about uncomfortable subjects is difficult for some couples which can result in an affair.
For Additional Information Check out Recommended Reading
The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity
Esther Perel a marriage and family therapist in New York has gotten rave reviews on her recently published book. The State of Affairs she takes this difficult subject and explains the painful feelings involve. She discusses reasons why affairs do not always end in divorce and tackle the ever-changing reasons this is a big part of people marital lives. She is able to take you to the depth of relationships and understand the fine-tuned dynamics of infidelity. Her book is a bestseller on Amazon.
THE (IN)FIDELITY FACTOR: Points to Ponder Before You Cheat
We are privileged to have some comments by the author Elda M. Lopez. Ms. Lopez can relate. She’s been on both sides of the fence and has learned a thing or two–or three. Infidelity prevention is key. A much-needed book for those with a desire to know, and those in the throes of desire. Written in real terms, it’s conversational, concise and witty; easily read and understood. Find help negotiating mindsets and minefields, included are plenty of points to ponder, statistics, commentary, personal stories (including the author’s own), examples and surveys for examination. Time to be informed. Time to be the change-up!
Readers on Amazon have given great reviews. Her book is described as a must-read for anyone in long-term relations or anyone who has been gotten out of horrible ones! As well as a great resource for couples. Relationship Restore Advisors highly recommends the well written informative book!
If you have any questions or know of other kinds of affairs that may be helpful to our readers we encourage you to leave a comment or question. Thank you
Touchy subject but awesome article breaking down the different types of affairs. Do you have any books or articles to recommend preventing affairs? or possibly techniques to improve the quality of your relationship so these bad things don’t have to happen? I will be sure to check out your recommended books there because to me cheating is something I could never do and I am interested to learning the psychology surrounding this topic. Cheers
Couples can work to try and prevent cheating. This starts at the beginning of a relationship. Some people may have difficulty because they have experienced multiple childhood abandonment, abuse or over-controlling family members. Consciously, they may wish to have a monogamous relationship, however, because of unresolved attachment issues they are not able to stay with one person. It is important when dating to understand a persons relationship history. Also if they have had a difficult history is there some way they have worked on themselves such as therapy or other introspective endeavors. It is important to be able to attach and pick a partner that is able to have a secure attachment.
The second most important parts for couples to work on prevention is to communicate their needs and feelings to one another. Also it is important that each can look at their own difficulties within the relationship and acknowledge issues. A sign that the relationship may need some work is when couples feel distant from one another. It is crucial that they discuss what is happening, take some time for the couple or seek counseling.
There are of course other issues that come up. People often have a hard time leaving a relationship so end up cheating so they feel like they are not abandoning the other. Much conversation and learning about one another is partitive. I hope that helps. Thanks Karen Chambre, LCSW, Psy.D. ca