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

Six Types of Affairs: Love Addiction

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 6: Love Addiction

Love addiction is characterized by a repetitive pattern of moving from relationship to relationship seeking a love that never lasts. Although these relationships may involve sex, the craving and compulsion tend to be relational instead of sexual. This category differs from emotional affairs in that it's more about experiencing intense feelings than about friendship.

It is a hopeless search for "falling in love" with "the one" who can help them sustain the intense emotional feelings generated by the first stage of a relationship. This never-ending search and the fear that there may be something more poignant to a future relationship prevents them from ever fully committing. Having discovered that their mate isn't "Mr. or Mrs. Right", these people compulsively pursue the search for their soul mate.

M. Scott Peck, in his book, A Road Less Traveled, differentiates true love from false love (he would call it romantic love). He explains that what one experiences when they "fall in love" is not love at all. It is not even about the other person. It is about how the other person makes one feel about oneself. Peck would even surmise that anyone who has "fallen in love" will eventually fall "out of love" and then must choose true love. True love is about knowing the other person and letting the other person know you. This is healthy intimacy, not the false intimacy the love addict has mistaken for love.1

Characteristics of Love Addiction:

  • Tends to occur more frequently with females.
  • The unfaithful spouse is usually ambivalent about their marriage.
  • The unfaithful spouse may overvalue the person they are infatuated with.
  • The unfaithful spouse is incapable of judging the negative characteristics of their affair partner. While they may see the defects, they won't give these defects any weight. Instead, they'll see them as unique or special.
  • There may or may not be an actual relationship with the person with whom they are infatuated; it can be more like an obsession that is not reciprocated.
  • The unfaithful spouse frequently complains about the lack of romantic love in the marital relationship.
  • The unfaithful spouse may feel they've married the wrong person.
  • The unfaithful spouse experiences intrusive thoughts about their romantic partner. They may spend as much as 80% of awake time thinking about this person, trying to determine how the other person feels about them.
  • The obsessive nature of the relationship creates unrealistic expectations of the "love object" in regards to how they want to be shown love in return.

I hope this information helps you to get your feet on the ground in your recovery, and I hope it encourages you to know that you are not alone, no matter which category you fall into! There is hope regardless of what's happened, but you have to do the necessary work. I also hope you'll take advantage of the resources at Affair Recovery. We would be honored to do what we can to help.

If you and your spouse desire a new marriage, you may want to consider participating in our EMS Online course. EMS Online is a safe place for you and your spouse to start a new beginning with expert care and curriculum from those who have gone through it before. Click here for more information and to register today at 12:00 PM Central : /product/ems-online


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Great Article brings a question

I think this is a great article but it has certainly posed a big question. I am the unfaithful partner of two separate affairs that happened 7 years apart. The first was what I considered to be an online/emotional affair and the second turned physical. The question I have is how can I determine the 'type' that my affairs fall into when there are characteristics from all 6 categories?

Same issue

My husband cheated through out our 26 year marriage. You say there is 6 categories. He's done them all. Please help me!

Same here but in 6yrs time

D day was 6 yrs into marriage now coming to 7th yr (separated the whole yr) He has admitted to 3 types but has done them ALL. It's sad and it's really painful.

More than one?

What if the betrayer fits into more than one category? The initial affair where he thought he loved her, then he came back to the marriage, but was constantly seeking "friends" online. Several admitted emotional affairs stemming from online dating sites (with sexting and video chats). While separated he recklessly slept with other women. And then finally caught because he was having inappropriate sexual discussions with a friend's daughter, which led to the confession of all of this.... I don't know if he is a sex addict, a love addict, or just a depressed man seeking attention? I am seriously at a loss as his wife and don't know which way to turn.


Is it possible that the affair falls in two categories - one that fits the perspective of each person. I feel like my husband was having an emotional affair while his affair partner falls in the love addiction category... I'm not sure it matters, but I'm just wondering what others might think.

Six Types of Affairs

Is it possible to have all of these types at once?

What type of affair was it?

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