Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Six Types of Affairs

6 Types of Affairs:

Category 1: One Night Stand
Category 2: Fallen in Love
Category 3: Sexual Addiction
Category 4: Wanting the Marriage and the Affair
Category 5: Emotional Affair
Category 6: Love Addiction

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As we begin to explore the types of affairs, I know that there is a great deal of pain and confusion for both parties in the marriage. Please know that I am not writing with the intent of causing more pain! Instead, I hope that these categories will help bring understanding to what has happened and serve as one small step in the process of healing.

Relational infidelity shatters the crucible that contains "us." We are now no longer one; we are two separate individuals with at least one party wondering if our oneness still exists. Marital problems may strain our sense of connectedness and call into question whether we really matter to our mate, if they really care about us, and whether they are going to be there for us.

Despite what some would have you believe, not all affairs are alike; therefore, the approach to healing will differ between each of these six categories. I would encourage you to read the descriptions of each affair type and then determine which one best characterizes your own personal experience.

The following categories are simple descriptions and are not intended to explain the motivations of the betrayal, the consequences, or the path of recovery. They are also not intended to serve as a judgment on the betrayer or the betrayed. Instead, they are intended to offer hope to both parties as you begin your journey of recovery. Hopefully, you will discover that your situation is not entirely unique and that there is a path you can follow to new life.

Admittedly, there is a process upon which you have to be willing to embark, but those of us who have made the journey will assure you that it is well worth it. You may be asking, "Why would I want to consider going back to a miserable marriage?" Let me assure you, this path is not just about "making it." I would never wish such 'existing' on anyone. If your marriage is lousy or even just mediocre, why would you want to go back?

If that were the case, then I don't believe we would be doing you any favors. That is not what this is about; rather, we believe that this crisis point in your marriage can actually be used as the starting point for each of you to grow both individually and as a couple. Let this process serve as a point of hope for the two of you. You are not alone in this process! Please take advantage of the support, encouragement, and direction we have to offer.


"I would like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your ministry and the materials you have provided as part of EMSO and Married for Life. We, all five couples that started EMSO, have just completed the Married for Life 52-week course. We are now deciding what to study next as a group, as we so value the relationship we have together as couples. With God, with your materials and with each other, we have saved our marriages." - B. Minnesota | EMSO participant, March 2021.

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I thought that I would be

I thought that I would be happy with an old friend because me and my husbands first few years of marriage was nothing but fights and catching him watching pornography.When it all came down it was so easy for me to cheat cause I was sick of jealousy and thought for a second I deserved to be treated better, when in reality it made me realize I made a huge mistake and am now losing my marriage I am looking for answers and help. I love him .

All but one

After reading each one of these types of affairs, I feel my wife (yes, my wife. It’s not always the men who are prone to cheat) would probably fit into ALL of the categories except (maybe) the one night stand. After her multiple affairs through the years, I can look back and see my entire marriage as cycle after cycle of trauma and recovery, tragedy and survival, over and over again. Maybe she would fit best into wanting both the marriage and an AP. I so want to be done yet I feel I’m supposed to hang on for some reason. One thing is certain. In the past, separation and divorce was shameful. Today, staying is the new shame.

6 catagories

my husbands affairs were both 4 and 5 and even though it has been over 6 years since d day 4/21/12...I still feel the pain, experience triggers and question our staying together every day, he says he is sorry but says I should be over it, he ended the affar immediately, as far as I know, and has had no further contact...but I studied her and their affair and cannot stand what he chose to kill me with...

All of these categories

My husband and I have been married for 35 years.
He has had that I know of 12 one night stands.
In 2013 was having an affair with a woman from work 16 years younger than him.
In those 3 years 4 times we had separated as each time said it was over between his AP only to find out different.
At the moment we are together and yes I struggle with trust and triggers.
Still dont trust him and still think they might be contacting each other as he did have a personel phone just for her.
I do monitor his every move and money but gut tells me different.She is married now to the man she was with when my husband and her were having affair for 3 years.Maybe this is a cover up dont know.
Marriage will never be the same as he never had boundaries but does now.
Hopefully one day we can wipe out the negative thoughts and start living.
Good Luck

Anges, I am so sorry about

Anges, I am so sorry about what he did for you. My D-day was April 4th 2018. I also am doing the same thing. We have been married for 24 years. My husband had an affair with someone we both knew, our daughters ex best friends mom. We both hung out with her. She was also married. My husband was not getting enough sex from me so he looked elsewhere and knew she would go for it. She fell in love so he dumped her because it was supposed to be a friends with benefits only relationship but she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. I knew this woman. She is nothing like me. She is a party girl, full of drama a heavy drinker/ drug user, a 45 year old party girl. I can't figure out why her, she is nothing like me. My husband doesn't understand why I keep thinking about the past. I can't help it. I am in such disbelief that he did this to us. He bought her home in our bed, went to hotels with her for the weekend, took her out, used cocaine with her, something I never knew he did. I think it was some kind of mid life crisis but I am left with the pictures in my head of the sex but worse of all of the thought that he spent time with her, talked to her. Someone who I can't stand and the way I remember it back when we used to hang out with her, he couldn't stand her either. I discovered the affair after it was over and I guess I should be happy that he broke it off because he chose me. His plan was to never tell me and try and fix our marriage. I found out all on my own. I believe he is sorry. I believe it was just for sex in his mind. I am still so mad at him though. Our sex life and communication is better then ever but, I am still mad and still obsessing over her. Ugh, it sucks!!!

6 Catagories

I feel your pain. As I read your comment, it was as though you were speaking directly to me. My husband has had 3 affairs over the past 15 years. We have been married for 41 years now. His last affair was with a 30 year old girl. He was 56. The affair was exposed to me July, 2015 and it had been going on for over 3 years. I too am still tormented every day with the really cruel things he said to me when I confronted him. He had never connected with or felt as sexually satisfied with any other person in his life. After 3 1/2 years of hearing “I’m sorry” but does not put effort into making me feel safe and secure, and at the same time saying I should be over this and that if I had truly forgiven him, I should never mention the affair ever again. I feel so much shame for his behavior for those 15 years, I have become so depressed I don’t leave the house. Not even to attend church because that is where I feel the most shame.

Affair types

My husband had 3 affairs over a 7 Year time period. We had been married almost 11 years when he became an adulter. He developed intense sexual relationships with married mothers at his job, one of them lasting almost 4 years. The AP in that relationship even had a baby during that time. They both claim that the child born is her husbands, but unless a paternity test is done we really don’t know. Nearly all sexual encounters occurred in a car in public parking lots, or the parking garage of the hospital where he worked. It’s been about 2.5 years since discovery of his second life. He’s the kind that can compartmentalize parts of his life, so I’m thinking that his affairs were somewhere between love addiction and wanting the marriage and the affairs. I’m saying this because he came home every day like he did the day before, but he couldn’t ever walk away from the relationship once it started. He literally either had to be dumped or get caught in order to stop. I received his adulteress text messages b/w he and AP #3 on my laptop after performing a software update. The entire conversation that I was able to read was the most heartbreaking thing....it was full of complements of her beauty, and emojis with heart eyes and kissy faces. He even told her that sometimes he wants to strangle me. I can honestly say that I had no idea that this was going on behind my back, as he told me that he loved me every single day, we made life plans together, took family vacations, and taught a Sunday School together. I’ve suffered from depression, embarrassment, self doubt, and post traumatic stress....I wouldn’t even wish this on the ladies that lived like that in the back seat of a car with my husband. We are still together, only by the Grace of God. He’s had to work hard to keep his family together. I continue to struggle with staying with him despite his relentless attempts to make this work. At times I don’t feel understood by him, at the impact that this has had on my inner being. I’m a different person now, and sometimes I don’t like who I’ve become as a result of this. I guess there’s a reason why God clearly says don’t commit adulatory in the Bible. My husband’s actions have not only affected our family, but the spouses and children of all involved....8 children total including our 2 daughters. Some days I have hope for us, and others I want out of this so much that all that I can do is cry. Infidelity is the most selfish act that a spouse can commit, I mean, his happiness with coworkers far outweighed my life. Best wishes to those of you experiencing this! It’s a tough road!

My heart goes out to you Jen

My heart goes out to you Jen R and everyone dealing with the trauma of infidelity.It is one of the worse pains of life.Know that you are not alone and you can find peace, healing and joy in life again.In the days after I found out about my husbands infidelity all I could say to keep from drowning in the indescribable pain is..."I survive this, I survive this" and I believe it kept me from going insane with rage shame and disbelief.There is a way out.And there is a remedy for every kind of hurt.Your healing is just as possible as your pain is real.Take heart sister

Thank you for your open communication...

It’s been about a year since you posted this, but I am now in your past situation. Thank you for being so honest and transparent. I learned a lot be reading your words.
I hope you are doing well and that your life is fulfilling. Best wishes and wonderful thoughts.

none apply

About 5 years ago my husband had a sexual relationship with a married woman. Over the course of about two years, he had sex with this woman about 4 times. There was no emotional involved at all. They would meet, have a quick physical encounter, and not see each other again for a few months. There were no gifts, chats, texting, nothing else. I found out about this 2 years ago. He has a history of intimacy avoidance, and I believe sex was always used as an escape from life's problems for him. During the time of his affair he was going through challenges at work and was likely depressed. His "affair" doesn't seem to fit into any category, except possibly sex addiction. Should I look at it as an addiction or something else? Thank you for your vlog, it is most helpful.

none apply

My husband was not in love with his long term affair. Limited contact in between meetings, no gifts, just beer and pizza and sex. She asked if he would leave me several times over the years he always said no. I do look at it as a sex addiction. He definitely was intimacy anorexic. If she was unavailable there was the "looking", talking to an old girlfriend, the "grooming" to see if she would be available for sex. Similarly could not handle stress from work or family life. Do you know you have total disclosure? Sex addiction does not necessarily mean they have been with lots of woman and/or prostitutes.

Discovering his secret life

After more than a dozen years of marriage, I stumbled into mountains of proof (saved emails, screen shots, photos) of my husband living a double life. To our family and friends he’s the adoring, gift giving, perfect husband. The truth is that he’s a sex addict who’s not only cheated on me with boomers but had a 6+ month affair and for longer than I’ve known him (17 yrs) been soliciting sexual interaction via online forums, dating sites, and prostitution (both female and shemale) websites. Much of what I read that fateful April day last year made me physically sick. After stonewalling me for several hours he finally acknowledged his activities and he’s the one who suggested “maybe” he had a problem with porn. But it goes far beyond porn. He found a CSAT and began therapy but dropped out 4 mos later insisting he could “fix it” on his own. He insisted he’s stopped trolling the web for sex & digital interaction but I have serious doubts. The pain of his many betrayals is as haunting as it is emotionally devastating, and I’m still triggered often. I saw a therapist for about 7 months but she pushed divorce so strongly that I stopped seeing her. Now, I just feel adrift. My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t just forgive & forget & put it behind us, because hey - it’s been 9 months and he’s the perfect husband again, right? I feel like my soul is tired and lost, and I don’t know how to find myself again or even begin to trust him. I don’t know if I ever will.

We don't quite in one

Going over these, we don't fit one fully. I just recently discovered the extent of my partners infidelity. My mate had several one night stands decades back. He had an emotional affair, that turned into a physical affair, it was with someone very close to us. He tried to keep the affair going longterm while remaining in our relationship, I found out later. But there were several other episodes of cheating that happened years later, that don't quite fit in these. He wasn't pursuing emotional affairs, there wasn't love, but they also weren't one night stands. It was with more than one woman, and it happened more than one time with each of them. There was also, the now typical, virtual cheating, which involved some of the same women. I'm not sure where we fit....

Doesn’t fit

I’m having the same issue here, none of these categories fit. For 21 years of our 25 year marriage my husband was completely trustworthy and faithful. Then one encounter with “making out” with a hospital employee who pursued him, far from home, on the day after he held his dying father in the hospital set him on a downhill course of shame and acting out. He started sexting strange women occasionally online, he couldn’t tell me, he stopped for months and then feeling especially lonely or hopeless because he thought I no longer desired him intimately, he would start up again. Finally last year he had an on again, off again, physical affair with someone he met online. He saw her two months, stopped all summer, checked in on her late summer with no intention of starting it up again, but succumbed to temptation. Never expressed love to her, in fact claimed to always love me and wished that she was me. Was trying to find the courage to confess to our pastor but thought I’d leave him. Finally on January 18 of 2020 he confessed to me and shut the door on her, and says he has no thoughts of her at all except that he’s hurt multiple people by his selfish actions. She knew he was married.
So was it an extended one night stand with a splash of emotional connection? No idea what this all was. It violated every moral code he’d ever expressed. He says he was in a dark and hopeless place since the death of his dad. He felt I no longer loved him and was looking for approval and appreciation. He takes full responsibility for the choices he made in his despair and wishes he had bought the red convertible instead of an affair.

All 6

What does it mean if your spouse has done all 6 in the last 14 years? Multiple times.


What do you do if it started as a #1 then progressed to a#2? I’m almost a year and a half into reconciliation. He has been great but I’m still having so much difficulty.


If it started as a 1 (one night stand) then progressed to a 2 (fallen in love) than it is a 2. It stopped being a 1 the moment the one night stand ended and the relationship continued. If reconciliation is the goal than the extra marital relationships should have stopped. If either of you are emotionally involved with someone else; nevermind physically involved; than they are not devoted to reconciliation.


I would look at a one night stand as meet that person that night and never going back to them. If they planned to meet up Over time even if one night only for sex it is more then a one night stand. It was calculated. I think my wife is 4 and 6. Wants the marriage to stay and have affairs. If I left her even with her getting half of everything she would have to change her lifestyle and that is why she wants the marriage to continue. For convenience. And 6 because of I have found out about at least 3 affairs. First was meeting up once a month to hook up. Second was calling almost daily for a year. No proof they meet up but assume they did. Third was full blown crazy. At least 5 calls a day for 5 months with catching them meeting up a handful of times at the end when I knew. Searching hotel rooms and hotels by the hour. I think she wasn’t to keep falling in love over and over and me as her security blanket.

And what if it was all of

And what if it was all of them at the same time, or over a period of time? Does it really matter?
As much as differentiating can help at the beginning, I learned that once you have made the decision, together, to embark into the healing process, at some point you must set aside all technical considerations. At this point the biggest struggle is accepting your new self as a betrayed party. Not only your life partner isn’t who you thought they were but you are shocked by your desire to fight for your couple or at least your inability to face the trauma of going through separation. We are not made of societal expectations, not always, in the good and the bad sense of the term. Acceptance of others’ and our « faults » without feeling the external and internal judgement sucks the life out of a person. But it’s a marvelous chance to grow through indescribable pain. 4 years down the line I am a new person and still with my partner. Life’s not perfect, sometimes I struggle inside but life is real, probably for the very first time and that’s appreciable.

What do you do if your spouse

What do you do if your spouse gave you nothing for decades but time in your bed because they never worked out of town, formed an emotional relationship with their employee who was once a friend of yours, then went physical when you were struggling and for the first time in 36 years making less money than the cheater yet still taking complete custody of every other issue, and then comes back when you feel you’ve moved on. How much time do you give them to show that they’ve come back despite no recovery work, no renewed vows and no ring? ( BUT you do get the ex affair partner’s squishy lazy job that you paid for while raising 4 sons)


Is it possible that I can have a combination of the different type. I'm the wayward spouse, we are 2 years past D day and the more I learn the more confused I get trying to pinpoint why I did this and how I might categorize my type of affair.

The fact that you’re learning

The fact that you’re learning 2 years later is a good sign that it doesn’t matter much what type it was rather than that you care enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again no matter what type. Everyone likes sex and accolades. It’s not that complicated. Morals and commitment matter more. Caring less about yourself and more about others is key.

What type of affair?

Thirty eight years into our happy marriage I discovered by accident my husbands infidelity. He has revealed the depth of his infidelity that encompasses all 6 categories of infidelity. His remedy after the reveal was to engage in another betrayal (Love affair) with the OW who was also married! Devastated, but still love my husband, but not coping very well!

Possibly #1

I am in a strange situation. I am guessing it was a one night stand but would welcome any insight. We have been married 14 years and before our marriage my husband had a hair dresser who was 25 years older. He went to her for most of his adult life for hair cuts. When he as 29 or 30 years old and she was 55 or 56 she blatantly asked him to have sex which only lasted 10 minutes and neither took their clothes completely off. She probably didn't get much out of it. This took place 3 times over a year, same seniero.

Then we were married when he was 38 and this whole time he continued to get his haircut with this older lady. When we were married about 8 years she blatantly come out and ask him to have sex like before and she was around 70 years old and he was around 45. He said he felt somewhat pressured but followed through and it was the same scenario it lasted about 10 minutes and they did not get completely undressed and then you left. Then when he went back for his 2-month haircut she asked him again to have a quickie and he followed through same scenario only this time he told her that it would have to stop. He continued to get his haircut there until she died at the age of 75. This came out in a polygraph test that I demanded because of suspicions. I believe this was how it happened and the polygraph and he verified it. I thought of several things could it be mommy issues could it be low self-esteem could it be just sex. I've always been career-oriented and took care of my own needs so I'm sure that was also a problem. Nonetheless I suffered a great deal of trauma from this. I can't rip my brain around a young man having sex with such an older female who came on so strong and obviously had her own issues. Anyone have any feedback for me I would appreciate it I'm trying to recover. I would like to add my husband is mortified and very embarrassed about who he's had sex with.

What type of affair was it?

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