Like beautiful snowflakes of infidelity, affairs are unique in nature but they can be categorised. That’s why Ashley Madison, the world’s leading married dating website, conducted a survey of its members to understand more about the types of affairs and the motivation behind them. The results show that the majority of these members consider themselves adventure seekers looking to chase a feeling and very few use infidelity as a way to exit their marriage.
While 91% of cheaters find that they are cheating for a physical connection that does not mean all affairs are the same type of relationship. More than one-third (34%) of all cheaters enter their affairs for emotional connections, and there are a variety of other ways that someone can enter into an affair.
The Five Types of Cheating
“No two affairs are identical, but we can certainly isolate the main motivations for stepping outside the marriage,” says Dr. Tammy Nelson, sex therapist and author of When You’re The One Who Cheats: Ten Things You Need To Know. “Many couples I’ve worked with over the years have used their affairs as a way to add novelty to their life, not to abandon their marriage.”
Dr. Tammy Nelson breaks down these different types of affairs in to the following categories.
The SuperHero: Be Someone Else
A SuperHero affair is one where one or both parties take on a new persona that makes them feel empowered and gives them a new sense of control. Knowing little about one’s affair partner gives cheaters the chance to masquerade as this new more desired part of themselves.
The can-opener is an affair in which the cheater is hoping to get caught in the act so that they can get out of their relationship.
The Alarm Clock: Wake Up or Break Up
Similar to the can-opener, someone in an alarm clock affair is hoping that their distant attitude and odd behaviour gets noticed by their partner. Like the name suggests, the alarm clock is meant to be a wakeup call for the partner of the cheater to treat them better.
An opportunistic affair is one that happens when a casual, platonic relationship turns into a full-blown affair. While the original intentions of the relationship may have been innocent, these affairs can end up being the most harmful.
The Adventure: Adventure Seeking
An adventure affair is to married life what skydiving is to hiking, which is to say, a rapid change of pace. Those who are engaged in adventure affairs are looking for excitement, intensity, and fun.
For the Thrill of It
Something that may come as a surprise on the survey is the high number of adventure affairs in contrast to opportunistic affairs. Opportunistic affairs often stem from an emotional connection, and, as mentioned earlier, Ashley Madison users tend to enter into their affairs primarily for a physical connection rather than an emotional connection. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of survey respondents indicated that they are primarily looking to meet their needs for intensity, being challenged, and fantasy, and another 35% of respondents answered that they’re seeking look for adventure, fear, and sensation. In their own marriages, 83% of the respondents feel like their spouse makes them feel safe, trusted, and emotionally connected, though they report lacking intensity and adventure.
“Our members seem to be having affairs to make up for the lack of thrill in their own marriages,” says Isabella Mise, director of communications for Ashley Madison. “This doesn’t mean that they aren’t happy at home, it just means they want to replace some of the predictability with a bit of an adventure – but in a discreet way to is looking for a break from the monotony of monogamy.”