If you’ve ever been a target of infidelity, your initial thought was probably, “why?”. The effects of an affair are vast, and it’s natural to want to know why your partner chose to cheat, even if understanding why provides no comfort. There could be various reasons, and numerous forms of infidelity and cheating may light those causes. Understanding the five distinct types of infidelity can help couples start to cope and heal, experts say.
What Is a Case of Infidelity?
Infidelity or cheating refers to the act of being unfaithful to a spouse or other relationship. It often refers to having sexual or romantic interactions with someone other than one’s significant partner, which constitutes a breach of a commitment or pledge.
Each instance of infidelity is unique and serves a distinct purpose. While understanding why a partner cheated is unlikely to remove any pain you are experiencing, reasoning and defining the behavior will reduce some perplexity. Additionally, it might help you feel more confident in your ability to move ahead from the situation—whether that means working to repair your relationship or moving on if you decide to separate.
Dr. Scott Haltzman – A nationally recognized relationship expert and psychiatrist, published author and media source who has been quoted in over 100 major newspapers and other publications – identifies five distinct types of infidelity and unfaithfulness:
Learn more about the five types of infidelity and what to do if you become a victim of it:
5 distinct types of infidelity and cheating
1. Infidelity based on opportunism
Opportunistic infidelity occurs when a person is in love and committed to their partner but gives in to their sexual desire. This cheating is typically motivated by circumstantial circumstances or opportunities, risk-taking behavior, and alcohol or drug usage.
According to social psychologist Theresa E. DiDonato, “Not all acts of infidelity are deliberate and motivated by discontent with an existing relationship. Perhaps they were under the effects of drink or were otherwise unprepared for a chance.”
Adultery is not always intentional and driven by dissatisfaction with an existing relationship. Perhaps they were under the influence of liquor or were otherwise compelled to take advantage of this unaware opportunity.
Following a sexual interaction, the more in love a person is with their spouse, the more guilt they feel. However, once the fear of being caught fades, feelings of guilt tend to disappear.
2. Compulsory Infidelity
This infidelity is motivated by the fear of rejection if one resists someone’s sexual advances. Individuals may have sexual desire, affection, and attachment for a spouse but cheat due to a strong need for acceptance.
Additionally, their need for approval may motivate individuals to act in ways that contradict their other emotions. In other words, some people cheat not out of malice but the need for approval that comes with being seen.
3. Infidelity in Romance
“Occasionally (but not always), a gap in an existing relationship leads to extradyadic affairs,” DiDonato explains. Cheating occurs when the cheater has a weak emotional attachment to their partner. They may be dedicated to their marriage and making it work, but they crave an intimate, loving connection with another person. Their dedication to the wedding will almost certainly prevent them from ever leaving.
Romantic infidelity causes distress for the other man or woman and the cheating spouse; it is uncommon to develop into a long-term, committed relationship. Before a partner leaves the marriage for another individual, marital difficulties must be pretty severe.
4. Infidelity in a Conflicted Romance
A person commits this type of adultery if they have genuine feelings of love and sexual desire for more than one person at the same time.
Despite our romantic ideals of having only one genuine love, deep passionate love for numerous persons is feasible. While such scenarios are emotionally possible, they are incredibly intricate and frequently cause significant anxiety and stress. In this situation, unfaithful partners often wind up harming everyone in their endeavor to avoid causing harm.
5. Infidelity Commemorative
This sort of adultery occurs when a person is dedicated to another person yet lacks feelings. There is no sexual desire, affection, or attachment; all that holds the pair together is a sense of obligation. “Lack of love and inability to commit to a present romantic partner are both associated with emotions of relationship discontent,” DiDonato explains.
These individuals excuse infidelity by claiming they have the right to seek out what they are missing in their current relationship. Sexual desires that remain unsatisfied might quickly come into play here.
“Perhaps folks are not having the amount of sex, the style of sex, or the exact sexual activities they desire in their established relationship,” DiDonato continues. “This may add to their motivations to cheat.”
For appearances, the current connection must endure. Because the cheater does not want to be perceived as a failure, they remain in an unpleasant relationship and seek fulfillment outside of it.
The Following Steps After Being Condemned
Now that your misunderstanding has been relieved, the next step is up to you. Marriages and relationships may survive this types of infidelity, but whether yours does will depend on the sort of infidelity and the amount of work you and your spouse are prepared to put in.
It is self-evident that an opportunistic cheater will continue to cheat regardless of how many times their cheating is detected and forgiven. Just because your spouse cheated once does not imply they will not betray again, so keep this in mind as you decide what steps to take next.
Cheating should not be tolerated, but if you still love your partner just be sure to know when to leave and save yourself.