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17 Types of Affairs

Here's the real reason good people have affairs. You're in a relationship that has problems. You don't know how to fix those problems. You're frustrated and confused. You don't know what to do. So you head into an affair. When you know what kind of affair you're having, you'll better understand what you're trying to get for yourself. Stay tuned for the 17 most common kinds of affairs.

The See-If Affair

The reasoning behind this kind of affair is to see if being with a new person will solve your problems. You want to see if you can be happier or fit better with someone else. Ultimately, though, the new relationship is really all about shedding light on your first relationship. What are you trying to see if? If it's to see if you can be happier with someone else, ask yourself, Am I? If not, then you don't need the affair. If yes, it's served its purpose.

The Ejector-Seat Affair

Anytime you have an affair there's a danger that it will blow your marriage out of the water. But some people feel trapped. This kind of affair is a way out. If you've been careless about getting caught and, honestly, would be relieved if your partner found you out, you're in an ejector-seat affair. Stop being in denial about how "trapped" you are and get on with it. Warning: Just because you're looking for a way out of one relationship doesn't mean you should make a commitment to the person you're having the affair with.

The Heating-Up-Your-Marriage Affair

Here's the classic scenario. You have an affair. It's eh. Your partner finds out. He or she is really upset, devastated, mad, etc. But at the same time, amazingly, things get a lot hotter in bed. If this rings true, most affairs die a natural death and the marriage gets better. The heating up of marital sex is a sign that something needed shaking up.

The Distraction Affair

This is how a distraction affair works: You can't get what you need, and you don't know how to get what you need, so you get involved with someone else. Answer this: Did you feel stuck in your life but didn't know what to do about it prior to the affair? If you're in a distraction affair, you're in tremendous jeopardy. Not only do you risk ending a perfectly good relationship, but the pain and craziness of struggling and breaking up just may delay what you really need to do. That is, figure out how you want to live.

The Break-Out-Into-Selfhood Affair

This is the opposite of a distraction affair. With this affair, you're finding your way back to who you really are and what's most important to you. It's as if part of you were lost and something about the affair helps you find the missing piece. It's not the affair itself you need; let that go before it destroys you life. What you need is a way to bring back into your life some important missing part of you.

I Just-Needed-To-Indulge-Myself Affair

Thoreau said people lead lives of quiet desperation. Some of us lead lives of married desperation. You'll know if it's an indulgence affair if, yes, you feel guilty but you also feel you deserve it, and you do enjoy how good it feels. The danger here is that guilty feelings can lead people into big trouble. Don't make the affair into something it's not. Write it off as something you needed. Figure out what's making things so unrewarding in your primary relationship and do something about it.

The Let's-Kill-This-Relationship-and-See-If-It-Comes-Back-to-Life Affair

Think of it like chemotherapy: Giving poison to someone who is sick in the hopes of saving their life. Here, you're looking to give your marriage a perhaps fatal blow, and then see if the two of you can grapple with it and thaw the icy walls that have grown around the relationship. With this kind of affair, you never know how it will turn out.

The Unmet-Needs Affair

This is a dilemma. If you go outside the relationship to get an important need met (say, sex or emotional connection), that can be seen as a betrayal. But if you end a good relationship for that unmet need, it seems like an awful waste. If a major for you is that your lover meets this need, it's likely you're in this kind of affair. Get into couples therapy to work on getting your need met at home. If that isn't workable, maybe that clearly points to the value of your needs over the relationship.

The Having-Experiences-I-Missed-Out-On Affair

This time, the unmet need isn't something in the present; it's something from the past you missed out on. Women without a lot of relationship experience often have affair like this to make sure that they haven't missed out on something important. Want to be with someone much older or younger? A different ethnic group or someone who's very artistic? What's it like to be with someone who just wants to throw you down on the bed and have sex with you all the time? Alright, now you did it. It shouldn't change your life.

The Do-I-Still-Have-It Affair

Problems in a relationship can damage your confidence and self-esteem. And so people sometimes have affairs to prove something: I'm still attractive. I can still feel desire. I'm a good lover. Affairs like these become more common as middle age approaches. Surprising, affairs like these often renew the primary relationship. At least, it works that way if you can contain the damage and take that newfound confidence back into your primary relationship.

The Surrogate-Therapy Affair

Among many important functions, therapists offer a shoulder to cry on and the change to talk to someone who understands you. And we often don't get this from our partner, whether it's because the relationship has deteriorated or he or she is just too busy. Do you spend a significant portion of time with your lover unburdening yourself, getting support or being coached? If you're getting therapy from your affair, it might be cheaper and easier to get your therapy from a real therapist.

The Trading-Up Affair

We usually marry the best person we can find. Not the best in the world. The best in our world. The hope that this person will make us happy in the future is better known as love. But there are situations, over time, with new experiences that maybe revealed our true potential or grown our self-esteem, that we can do better. If you are involved in an affair because you think you can do much better than your partner and the new relationship seems like a significant improvement, then you are in a trading-up affair. Be very careful. To minimize the risk of trading in ole reliable for a shiny new lemon, you'd better make it one hell of a test drive.

The Accidental Affair

People are often weak and stupid; affairs are easy. Here's how you can tell if you're in or had an accidental affair. Going in, did you find you were saying things to yourself like, This doesn't feel right. It don't know why I'm doing this. Why am I risking my relationship for this other person? You just have to let it go.

The Revenge Affair

Fairness is important to the health of a relationship. So when one person has it much better or worse than the other, you can predict that forces will come into play to restore the balance. That's where the revenge affair comes in. You do something (have an affair) just because your partner had one. It's not pretty, but if you understand what you're doing you can avoid getting too carried away with how wonderful your lover is.

Midlife-Crisis Affair

"Is this all there is?" There's one distinctive feature of a midlife affair: It happens because you realize you're aging, you're eventually going to die and it's now or never. What makes it confusing is that sometimes this panic is largely unconscious until, that is, you've done something crazy like have an affair. The best thing to do is talk to someone about your panic -- death, feebleness, fading looks -- so you can figure out what it really means to you. You need something, but it's not the affair.

The Sexual-Panic Affair

It's a fact of nature. As we get older, our ability to perform sexually can start to decline, whether it's ED for men or difficulty getting aroused for women. Many of fear our sex life is over. That's when it's time for a sexual savior, namely, an affair. And this often works. Sheer novelty can wake up someone sexually. Now what? The best advice is not let the sex determine what you do. If you're going to have sex, why not do it with your spouse?

The Midmarriage-Crisis Affair

Marriages go through a predictable life-cycle. Things are great or at least good in the beginning. Then passion ebbs, sex gets boring and irritations build up. (This happens anywhere from 7-year itch to a silver wedding anniversary.) It's easy to start feeling resentful, restless and disconnected. These are the points that people start wondering if they're made a mistake or if they can do better. When you affair occurs doesn't tell you what it means. This is one of the 16 other kinds. Figure out which one it is.

Source: When Good People Have Affairs by Mira Kirshenbaum,

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