The 8 Types of Cheating According to a Sex Expert

When you’re cheated on, it can be tempting to blame yourself or assume your partner was just looking for something better.

But cheating’s much more complex than that. In fact, it’s often caused by some psychological or emotional issue that’s been nagging at the cheater — not necessarily issue with their partner.

Marissa Nelson is the CEO of Intimacy Moons and relationship therapist of XoXo Therapy. She specializes in individual, couples and sex therapy. In her work, she’s noticed nine distinct types of cheating. Knowing which one your relationship falls under might help you get over the sting of being cheated on quicker — but it’s up to you whether you want to offer forgiveness or move on to the next one.

Here are the nine types of cheating, according to Marissa Nelson

1. The Just Sex Affair

One-night stands, vacation time-outs (What happens in Vegas or Brazil stays there), business trip rendezvous, and so on are affairs of lust. Often the thrill of the moment takes over, and then when it’s over, it’s back to reality. This can also happen if lovers are into each other for a primarily sexual connection, which usually fades when they discover that there isn’t much depth or connection with the other beyond sex.

2. The Revenge Affair

Let’s say my partner had an affair or breach of trust… well… if I get a freebie then I’ll feel better, and we’ll be even, and he/she could possibly feel the pain that I’ve endured because of the original indiscretion. Alternatively, in the absence of requested affection, a partner might try to “teach the other a lesson” by showing him/her that there are other fish in the sea. While it is thought that you may feel better, more often than not you feel worse, guilty as hell, and the relationship now has a new hurdle to climb over.

3. The Emotionally Intimate Non-Physical Affair

Can you call it an affair if there is no sex involved? Hellz yes. It’s sharing a very intimate and emotionally close bond that feels like much more than just a friendship. Secret meet ups, flirting and innuendo, private phone calls and texting, and sharing things with that person that would not be expressed to the current partner. All this is done in privacy and without the partner’s knowledge, and it’s knowingly downplayed as platonic even though the feelings are not. While there is the boundary of sex that is not crossed, infidelity is more about the emotional energy being given to someone else, and the secrecy that shrouds the relationship.

4. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Affair

I find these affairs mostly commonly happen when in long distance relationships, a partner travels a lot, in military scenarios, etc. When couples are separated for long stints of time, one or both may reach out for connection and companionship. They typically have no plans to leave their partner and when they are together, it’s all about that union. However, because both partners understand the circumstances of distance and don’t want to face the reality that their lover could be intimate with someone else, some choose to not ask the questions they don’t want to know the answers to.

5. The Second Spouse Affair

Remember the movie, Waiting to Exhale, when Whitney Houston’s character was in a relationship with a married man. He kept telling her he would leave and they would be together, just be patient. The love feels so complete because it’s a connection on all levels – sexually, emotionally, spiritually and they have secretly created a life together. The second life includes trips, dinners, sleepovers and life decisions that factor the lover in some way. It is a longstanding relationship where there is deep attachment and love, and can go on for years without the knowledge of the primary partner.

6. The Departure Affair

This is when some partners in the relationship love but are not “in love” with the other.  The couple shares a rich history and life together and are friends, but both are unhappy. The relationship/marriage has been on life support for some time now, and the affair is just another way to exit the relationship (as is working a lot etc). The cheater is usually sloppy and will do little to cover up the cheating in this phase or can be very direct in what is going on or in expressing dissatisfaction and being “done.” Often used to sustain an emotionally distant relationship, I find that this occurs more with couples who have been together for a long time with children, and often choose to separate once the kids are old enough.

7. The Repeat Offender

It’s not the first, second or third time this person has cheated. The lines between having “friends” and something more are always blurred in these affairs. Flirtatious comments on social media? Check. Inappropriate text messages and emails? Yep. Rarely is this person upfront and honest, or accountable for how their actions are disrespectful to the relationship. Most betrayed partners are often accused of being jealous and only fuels feelings of distrust and insecurity.

8. The Developmental/Life Events Affair

Affairs that center around major life events such as pregnancy, mid-life crisis, empty nesters, loss of loved ones etc. Men and women may turn to a lover to renew sense of self, and cover feelings of anxiety and depression. A partner may turn to an extramarital affair as a way to affirm their sense of masculinity or femininity, or to experiment sexually with fantasies i.e. BDSM, or same sex encounters.

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