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

Six Types of Affairs: Sexual 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 3: Sexual Addiction

This type of betrayal is an ongoing pattern of sexual behavior such as frequenting strip clubs, viewing pornography, compulsive masturbation, prostitution, repetitive encounters with sexual partners, and other behaviors that are destructive to both the individual and to the marital relationship. These individuals, though married, have never been able to find complete fulfillment from their marriage. They are enslaved by a drive to satisfy their longings. Driven by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, they are powerless over their extra-marital attachments to behaviors, people, or objects (such as pornography). These individuals look to these extramarital attachments rather than to their mate to meet their need for love and acceptance.

Interestingly, this category of affairs is not about the marriage and, often, the betrayer will state that they don't want to lose their marriage. Most likely, they would have pursued the same behaviors regardless of whom they married. The fear and shame associated with this behavior perpetuates the dual life of an addict which, in turn, propels the destructive behaviors. They often feel hopelessly trapped by these behaviors but are afraid to come clean because they don't want to lose their marriage or give up their addictive behavior.

This type of betrayal is especially difficult for the betrayed spouse because their suffering is not just from the betrayal but also from their inability to understand their mate's behavior. What the addict has done seems so foreign that the betrayed spouse cannot comprehend it. Or they may be in shock when they discover the sheer magnitude of the compulsive behavior (like a man who has visited prostitutes).

Characteristics of Sexual Addiction:

  • There is a habitual pattern of extramarital sexual behaviors.
  • Typically, the betrayer wants to save their marriage, but they still have a compelling drive to look elsewhere to meet their needs.
  • Often, these behaviors were present before the marriage, ceased for a season once the marital relationship began, and then were reignited once the addictive cravings and compulsions returned.
  • It is common for the betrayer to have made past efforts to stop the behavior, and to have actually been successful for a season, only to relapse after they believed things were better.
  • Frequently the betrayer has a deep sense of shame and guilt.


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Sex addicts

How can one recover from this?


How do we get a proper diagnosis of whether or not an addiction exists which lead to affairs?

Is there any hope?

My wife deflects and denies her behavior any time I try to talk to her about it, but I can now understand she has a sexual addiction. I have the same questions: How can we get a proper diagnosis? How to encourage her to see within herself? How do we recover?

After 2 years of marriage she went on a 6-month Tinder spree, hooking up with a dozen men (that I know of). Some for only a few hours -- serial one-night-stands -- others in weeks-long relationships. I got months of lies, deception and gaslighting, even though my suspicions were growing. Since her teenage years she has regularly watched porn, and I found out after marriage that she had cheated on me several times before we were married -- even when we were engaged and living together. I've read that the Four C's point to addiction: Craving, Compulsion, Control (lack of), and Consequences (ignoring or minimizing). She shows all of this. I just don't have a sense that she "has a deep sense of shame and guilt", but without her communicating what she feels, I can't really say.

We have two little kids and I'd do anything to protect them from a broken home. It's been 2 1/2 years since DDay (her cheating) and we've settled into a nonconfrontational "friendly" relationship. But I don't know how long this can go on.

I have shown her that I'm committed to recovery, but I don't see that in her. I'm anxious to participate in the AR programs but I see a high probability that she wouldn't participate or even bail. Waste of money. She doesn't like "talking to counselors". Is there any hope?

I too held on for far too long

Our stories sound very similar. My now ex-husband (we've only been divorced for about 3 months now) cheated on me with, from what I've discovered and have been lead to believe, about 25 different women and possibly a couple of men as well. For about a year I had been feeling like we were growing distant and that something wasn't right. I eventually began asking him if he were having an affair to which he would always reply, "when would I have the time?". It was true...or so I thought. He was working as a restaurant manager and would often be the closing manager which meant that he would be stuck at the restaurant until 2am or 3am. Well, unbeknownst to me, he had started signing up for every hookup app imaginable (Tinder, Pure, Clover, DoubleList, MeetMe, Boo, Badoo, Ashley Madison, Hinge, HUD, Hi5, CSL, WhatsChat and God only knows how many others) and would stretch his work day out to make it seem like be was still at the restaurant when in fact he was out cheating on me...or he would even go so far as to bring them into the restaurant and have sex with them in the office. Learning that last bit of information was especially painful because my ex-husband and I had met when we were both working at that restaurant chain together, so it felt like an even deeper stab in the back to have sex with these women at the place that had brought us together.
I always swore that I would never give a cheater a second chance. To me, being cheated on was in my top 3 worst nightmares and my ex knew this, but he cheated anyways. I ended up giving him a second chance and a third and fourth and fifth partly because we have a daughter together and partly because I loved him so much and wanted our marriage to work. I grew up with parents who were high school sweethearts and are still married to this day, 46 years later. I saw them struggle to keep their marriage together at times, but the difference was that they both put in the work when times got hard and they always woke up every morning with the desire to chose each other. I saw first hand that a marriage, while hard work and not always hearts and flowers, could survive so long as both people made the decision to wake up every day and choose each other.
After my daughter found a note written to my husband from one of his affair partners, I was tortured with the slow trickle truth over the next 2 years. I spent every day for either a few minutes to several hours just pouring over old text messages, discovering hidden charges, pictures, videos and secrect email addresses and phone numbers that my ex had gone to great lengths to try and hide from me. Unfortunately for him, I always was the smarter of the two in our relationship and I eventually uncovered so much truth that there was absolutely no hope of repairing that trust. It was gone.
What hurt me the most was the fact that I had given him so many chances to stop cheating and to have his family back, but he only continued to cheat on me and shattered me completely before I ended up filing for divorce. No one believed me at first when I told them that he had cheated on me because, when I say he was the last person that I ever thought would cheat, he really was the last person...I would have bet my life on it. At first, my family told me that I must be mistaken because they all saw how much he loved me and how well he treated me...it just wasn't even fathomable to them either. But I had mountains upon mountains of evidence and he had broken their hearts too. There were times when I had felt like my family had loved him even more than me lol. He was the perfect husband and father....he loved to cook dinners, did a lot of the cleaning when I was in and out of my depression periods, would buy me flowers just because, would go visit my Grandma and talk with her for hours...I thought that I had hit the lottery when it came to husbands. I had always heard so many of my girlfriends complaining about their husbands and I would think...man, thank God I got a good one. I never had anything to complain about.
My sister once told me, that when she was going through her divorce, that she sat outside of our open living room window once and just listened to my ex and I laughing for about an hour (my parents, 2 younger sisters and I all lived in separate houses on one property, so we were all just a few feet from each other....yes, we're a very close family lol). My sister told me that she sat there crying while listening to us just laughing at whatever TV show we were watching while we took turns sharing about our day and just simply enjoying each other's company. She told me that she was so jealous and prayed to God that she would have a marriage like mine one day...a marriage where 2 people spent the end of their days laughing together. To this day, when I think back and remember her telling me that story....it absolutely breaks me.....because I truly did think that that is how our marriage was and how it always would be. I had no idea that my reality wasn't a true reality at all because he had been lying, cheating and sleeping with dozens of other women. My ex-husband ended up sleeping with more women after we were married than he had before we were married.
My body has physically been through hell as the damage that stress can do to your body is incredible. I have lost almost all of my hair, I have lost so much weight, I barely sleep because when I do I wake up from the night terrors that now haunt me, I have stabbed myself in the eyes twice while I have slept because of these night terrors and almost went blind in one eye because of it, I have a migraine almost every day, I aged drastically in these last 3 years and I no longer consider myself to be a good mother as I have trouble focusing on anything other than how I can find out the full truth of everything that my ex has been hiding from me and/or my depression gets so bad that there are days where I have trouble even pulling myself out of bed. I don't know what it feels like to be happy anymore and my poor daughter is the one who suffers from the weight of his selfish choices and the confusion as to why her mommy now cries all of the time and is so angry with her daddy.
I wish that I could say that I was exaggerating when I tell you that I have cried every day for the past 3 years, but I'm not. Every day. Every single day I find myself crying either over the pain of what my ex did, the loss of what I thought my future was going to look like or the confusion and inability to process where my reality begins and where my perceived reality ends. I want answers. I want to know how and why this happened and I will never get those answers....and it's literally driving me insane. How can he be such two completely different people?! And how could I have married and fallen in love with someone so evil?? Yes, evil...because to cheat on someone is cruel and wrong, but to look someone in the eyes, tell them how much you love them, tell them how sorry you are for what you've done and promise them that they would never and could never hurt you like that again....and all the while continue to cheat on you.......that is the very definition of evil.
Hiccup, I don't want to crush your hope for a different outcome than mine because I was once in your shoes too...a firm believer that my spouse and my situation was different and that we were strong enough and that we loved each other enough to fix our broken marriage despite what everyone else was telling me, but.....let go. For your sake and for your children's sake most of all....let her go.
Despite my ex believing that I would keep our daughter from him and in part blaming his cheating on not wanting to lose our daughter instead of just asking for a divorce if he was as unhappy as he claimed to be (he wasn't unhappy in our marriage...he was just unhappy with himself and chose to blame me and our marriage on his supposed unhappiness)...I agreed to give him 50/50 sole and legal custody of our daughter not for his benefit, but for our daughter's. She thinks that her daddy hung the moon and despite being a POS husband...he really is an amazing dad (although...would an amazing dad cheat on her mother and break her family apart for their own selfish reasons? No, but I had to leave that part out of it). What my ex failed to understand and sadly failed to realize is that my daughter's happiness will always come first and will always come before my own. Would it make me sublimely happy to keep her from him, therefore denying him the one true thing that brings him joy and would knock him down to my level of pain if he was only ever rarely allowed to see her?? Oh....hell yes! Would that decision hurt my daughter and cause her even more unnecessary pain?? 100%. So I choose my daughter's happiness over my own....which is also a big part of the reason why I allowed his behavior to continue for as long as I did...I didn't want to hurt her by having her grow up in 2 separate homes and having to deal with her parents' divorce...but eventually her happiness could not outweigh my sadness that had slowly started to infect her life. Like I said before, she knows that mommy is sad most of the time now, but I do know that it won't be this way forever. One day I will wake up and realize that I made it through an entire day without shedding one single tear.....and I pray to God every night that tomorrow will be that day....and now that I no longer have a husband who does nothing but try and drag me down to his level of misery....I have faith that I will find my way back to happiness again. Had I stayed married to my own personal hell on earth though...I know that I would only have kept sinking down lower and lower until the pain and the depression and the anger would have continued to wrap its cold hands around my neck until it slowly choked out every last breath of happiness and hope until I would ultimately have given in, gave up entirely and settled for a life and a marriage filled only with unhappiness, shame and self hate as my daughter would grow up thinking that that is how a woman should be treated by a man.....and I'll be damned if I ever want my daughter to think that suffering in silence is the way that she should grow up and live her life instead of showing her that she can be strong enough to heal from the pain and let her see that no one deserves to be treated like this and that she should love herself enough to know all of that. Show your kids what it looks like to love themselves first...because you can't love anyone else if you don't love yourself...and by continuing to stay in this cycle of abuse (because yes, it is absolutely abuse)...you are doing them a huge disservice. I know, trust me, I know that it doesn't feel that way at first, but kids are not dumb and they can see straight through your mask and they see how much you are hurting. Staying with my ex-husband would have meant that I stayed a mediocre mom forever because I would have never been truly happy again, would have always been suspicious of my ex and would never have felt loved by him the way that I should feel loved by someone. I am no one's second choice (aside from God and our children who should come first and second for my personally)...my ex-husband was the only man that I saw...no other man existed to me and it should have been the same way for him when it came to loving me....because I deserve to be loved like that and so do you. I hope that one day you too will know your worth and just know that you aren't alone ❣️.

I really wish the "hook-up

I really wish the "hook-up apps" in the post above were not called out. Consideration needs to be given to those attempting to recover and what is in their best interests. Those who are in a weakened state in this recovery process don't need any further help in the relapse process. Looking out for what's in the best interest of others should be made a priority.

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