Types of Infidelity

Despite a great deal of information available on “types of infidelity”, many people find themselves becoming more confused the more they read.

ABC blocks representing the three main types of infidelityThis is because infidelity can be dissected along various lines – by behaviors, mindsets, or from a purely legal standpoint – depending on what kind of expert someone is. In addition, many websites complicate the picture by separating types of infidelity that are best grouped together.

The upshot is that finding a straightforward “cheat sheet” to match to real life can be more difficult than expected.

With this in mind, here is a simple breakdown of types of infidelity based on the most useful approach for most people – behavior. Looked at from this perspective the situation is quite straightforward – there are basically just three types of infidelity.

Sexual infidelity

As the name suggests, sexual infidelity involves a relationship with someone outside of the marriage that is purely or primarily sexual in nature – there is little or  no emotional attachment.

Sexual infidelity is not limited to intercourse. It includes any sexual activity that breaks the trust of sexual exclusivity within a marriage, such as sexual kissing and heavy petting. It is also includes activities where there is no physical contact at all, such as telephone or online sex, because the offender is investing sexually outside of the marriage.

When infidelity is purely sexual, the betrayed spouse remains the most important person in the offender’s life even though sexually they are investing elsewhere. For this reason, many marriages do survive sexual infidelity.

Emotional infidelity

This type of infidelity involves a close but non-physical relationship with someone outside of the marriage. The emotional affair may be invisible, taking place at work or the gym, or take place openly, as a “close friendship”. Sexual attraction may exist or develop but is not acted on.

However, there is a level of emotional intimacy that allows a third person access to deeply personal thoughts and feelings normally considered the privilege of a spouse, breaking the trust that a unique and exclusive emotional bond exists between marriage partners.

Although there is no sexual component, marriage experts agree that emotional infidelity poses a more serious threat to a marriage than sexual infidelity. It is a betrayal of the belief in a unique and deeply intimate emotional connection between two people that is the essence of “love”.

Full Investment Infidelity

In this type of infidelity there is a relationship with someone outside of the marriage that is both sexual and emotional. The extra-marital relationship has essentially replaced the marriage in terms of emotional and sexual investment and fulfillment.

Some people may continue to invest to an extent in their marriage too, finding that each relationship delivers different rewards, but for the most part this is not the case.

When a marriage partner is fully invested in a relationship outside of the marriage, the chances for saving the marriage are obviously low. The unfaithful spouse may be unwilling to end the extra-marital relationship, and the extent of the betrayal makes it very difficult to forgive.

An original article on Infidelity by Molly Laws
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Posted in: Infidelity Advice

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