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

Six Types of Affairs: Fallen in Love

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

Category 2: Fallen in Love

In this affair type, the unfaithful spouse has an intense attraction to the other person. The unfaithful spouse believes they've fallen in love, and feels powerless over these powerful emotions. These overwhelming emotions are an indication of what is called limerence. It is not uncommon for the betrayer to feel guilty over what they are doing, but they justify their behavior by telling themselves that they love their mate but are no longer in love with their mate. They often tell themselves they mistakenly married the wrong person and have discovered their one true soul mate. They might think, "If it feels so right, how can it be wrong?" These relationships may spring from existing friendships that transform into an obsession as emotional intimacy grows over time. They may also spawn from the spontaneous attraction that is referred to as love at first sight.

The driving force for this type of affair is the intense emotion generated by infatuation. The unfaithful spouse is obsessed with the other person and at the very least will be ambivalent about the marriage. They believe they can never be happy unless they get to be with the one they love. When they are with their mate, they're miserable and when they are with the other person, they feel alive but guilty.

It's not uncommon for the unfaithful spouse to unconsciously rewrite the marital history and believe they've never been happy in the marriage. Let me be clear - while all marriages have problems, the marriage itself is never more than 1/3 to blame. In a "Fallen in Love" affair, unfaithful spouses typically use these marital defects as justifications to continue the affair. While this description may cause you to believe the situation is hopeless, please know that it is not. There are many couples who have recovered and will even report that they are grateful that they were able to reconcile. If you are in this category, don't lose hope.

Characteristics of a "Fallen in Love" Affair:

  • The betrayer believes they can never be happy in the marriage.
  • Their justification for the affair is that they are in love.
  • The intense emotions generated by this type of affair may lead them to sacrifice life as they know it for the opportunity to be with their affair partner.
  • Frequently, there is a pattern of the betrayer swinging back and forth between the marriage and the affair partner. When they are at home trying to do what is right, they are miserable and feel they will never be happy. When they are with their affair partner, they are ecstatic, but may be feeling so guilty that they can't stand it. So, they move back home, only to feel miserable and believe, once again, that they can never be happy unless they go back to the affair partner. This dance of insanity can continue for years.
  • The betrayer often seems incapable of making a decision about what they are going to do. Even though the betrayer doesn't want to be in the marriage, other factors may keep them from choosing divorce. For example, feelings of guilt or of failure may cause them to stay. There may also be strong feelings regarding what is best for the kids, so they may decide to stay for the children.


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marital problems

I am facing a similar situation. My question is how can I stop the infatuation that I feel for this other person. Like this case, I am risking everything I work so hard and it took me so long to build for this other woman that I just met. Whoever hears my story would think that I lost my mind, and now that I am retiring and I should be able to relax and enjoy my life and I facing a possible divorce and financial ruin for being with this other person. This situation is driving me to the cliff and I feel that I am some point I am going to have to make a decision that I probably will regret for the rest of my life. Simple for a chance to enjoy a feeling that I never experienced in my marriage of 27 years. I am desperate, and I don't know what to do.


Can you honestly say that you "never experienced" that feeling in your marriage of 27 years? My ex said that same thing to me. Yet I remember many wonderful memories we had together throughout our marriage. Fight for your marriage, for your spouse. It's worth it.

Marital problems

Jose- i am in the EXACT same position as you. It’s exhausting. It’s amazing how my thought process can swing wildly from one thing to the next when I’m trying to rain in my own head. You posted this 10 months ago. I’m wondering if you have an update? I wish I had advice for you, but I stumbled on this website looking for some myself!

My wife just discovered my

My wife just discovered my love affair a week ago. There’s evidence of my thoughts to leave her. Now I am not so sure how I feel about either partner. I love both. But to stay in this now broken marriage seems so much more daunting than simply moving on with my affair partner. The back and forth description in this article is very real. And now that I’ve been discovered it seems my time is running out. My wife claims to want to try to save the marriage but it’s so painful and there’s no guarantee we’ll ever get over it. Is it worth trying to save? Is it guilt or love that’s making me stay at this point? Sorry this was more of a rant than a reply to your dilemma


MaryBay - I can give you advice I wish someone would have given me 20 some years ago. Leave the affair today! I almost ruined my life and I clearly hurt my family, but I walked away from the affair and saved a good marriage and family. I can't believe I didn't have the clear mind or the guts to end the affair on day one. I have spent over twenty years trying to figure out how acted so out of character and selfishly hurt those I really love. Believe me, I know my advice is hard for you to follow right now, but you will be very glad you did when you stop the madness and start to heal. Stop it cold turkey!


I know the article says this type of affair can last for years, but is that typical? How long do these type of intense affairs usually last?


My husband's lasted for 20 years and he still couldn't stop pursuing her after she ended it until I found out. He only stayed for the family as noted in the article. Although he wants the marriage to continue, I have never compared to her and I see no hope of it improving,

My husband had an obsessive

My husband had an obsessive type of affair for almost 6 years before deciding to finally leave me (which didn't work out as then he had a breakdown and we have since been trying to repair). So seeing your comment of a 20 year affair has really stood out to me as there really isn't as much information out there about long-term affairs. I'm trying to understand the 'type of affair' it was but it's refusing to be defined. He behaved as in limerence but everything suggests that limerence doesn't last that long. He claims it was real love and that they 'just had a connection'. He supposedly told her throughout that he still loved me but who knows. We don't have children so he didn't stay because of that. He found it very difficult to give up contact after the big reveal and spent months deciding who to be with.

We can't compare to the affair partner because it's not real life. There are no bills, childcare, frail parents, dogs getting sick on the rugs and bins to put out. But even though you remind yourself of that it still hurts like hell. I'm so sorry he put you through that.

The other woman

I am involved in an intense love affair with a married man for 2 years now. He was faithful for 35 years to his wife. We met and there was an immediate very intense and extremely powerful draw between us. It is the first time for me feeling like this and to be completely honest I have now way to explain the actual emotions so I won’t try. He said when he got married he was 22 and did not have the maturity and experience to make an informed choice about who he may be most compatible with. I think sometimes it is a mistake to be hold ppl to a promise they made over 30 years ago based on very limited experience. He is thinking about ending the marriage but as we all know it is a painful process and involves many emotional and financial considerations, family and societal expectations and feeling of shame. Sometimes two ppl meet at he most unexpected time and evoke something so powerful that is almost impossible to resist. I did not believe this until it happened to me. I am not condoning infidelity. I am not saying it’s right. I am just saying it is a human experience that we still know so little about.

Emotional affair with someone I’ve loved for years

I am really struggling. I have recently started counseling to sort through all of my feelings toward my marriage. I have a close friend, whom I have loved for years. We were together for a time about 6 years ago, and I have been with my husband for 5 years, married for 2. We have had 2 beautiful children. We have always talked through the years, nothing inappropriate, just talked about life and how each other was doing. His sister is my best friend, and I am close with their family so I have seen him a lot over the years. Well recently, we have seen a lot of each other. I was around his family a lot during my second pregnancy, and his sister always invites him to be around when we are hanging out. We have always gotten along great, and the chemistry has always been present. Other people notice it and constantly ask why we didn’t date etc. The only reason we didn’t date officially when we were together the first time was I was scared to lose his or his sisters friendship if it didn’t work out. Fast forward, I’ve been with my husband through the pandemic, and sometimes I wonder if that is why we got married. I’m not someone whose going to lie and say he’s terrible, because he is not. He is a good man, he is a good father, and he works hard, but there are so many things that are pulling us further apart. I’ve never felt so alone. He won’t talk to me about life or himself, and sexually it is non existent. And I have tried to talk to him about how I am unhappy and unsatisfied and we need to make changes or this isn’t going to be enough for me. Anyways, I find myself wanting my friend more and more. He’s the only person I have ever been with that I can recall every memory, and physical interaction. And I have never felt that for my husband. I feel like my husband has been the safe choice and has provided me with two wonderful kids. I just don’t know what to do if I feel this way after only two years. I always thought marriage would be lifelong for myself but I don’t know what to do to change how I feel. I keep asking myself if my friend wasn’t in the picture, would I feel the same, and I think the answer is yes.

Fallen in Love?

I am going through something similar to this, however, my question is, how do you know if you are rewriting history? How do you know you aren’t legitimately in love with the newfound partner?
I felt for years that I was longer in love with my wife prior to meeting the person I do believe o am in love with. I’ve never felt emotions like this.
In the back of my mind I always felt like I was staying with my wife until the kids got to college (if I could hold out that long), but the fights and arguments and distance was growing between me and her.
I feel guilty because I know what I am doing is wrong, but I have zero desire to reconcile with my wife. I would rather be lonely because I’m alone than because I’m with the wrong person.
I’m just curious how you know if the feelings are legitimate versus my judgment is so cloudy right now that I can’t see the truth.

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