What is Infidelity? Types of Infidelity & All You Need

What is Infidelity

If you’ve ever been the victim of adultery, your first question undoubtedly was, “Why?” The ramifications of infidelity are enormous. So it’s only normal to want to know why your partner decided to cheat, even if understanding why doesn’t provide you with any relief. There could be a variety of reasons, and there are many different kinds of infidelity that could help to illuminate some of those causes.

But then, each instance of infidelity is unique and serves a distinct purpose. Although knowing why a partner cheated won’t make the pain go away, being able to rationalize and define the action will help to clarify things. It can also help you feel more secure about how to proceed from the circumstance, whether that means fighting to fix your relationship or moving on if you decide to separate.

In the ensuing paragraphs, we will explain exactly what infidelity means and some of its types.

What Is Infidelity?

Simply put, infidelity is the act of being disloyal to a spouse or partner. It usually entails having sexual or romantic interactions with someone who is not one’s significant other.

Infidelity also refers to breaking a commitment to stay true to a romantic partner, whether that commitment was a part of a marriage vow, a secret pact between lovers, or an unspoken assumption. As unfathomable as it may seem to breach such commitments when they are made, infidelity is prevalent. When it occurs, it begs difficult questions: Should you stay? Is it possible to restore trust? Is there no other option except to pack up and leave?

Well, answers to these questions, oftentimes, boil down to the Why…

The Different Types of Infidelity

Below are the 5 different types of infidelity. Let’s take a look at them one after the other.

1. Opportunistic Infidelity

This is when a person is in love or in a relationship but has a sexual desire for someone else. Basically, circumstantial conditions or opportunities, risk-taking behaviour, and alcohol or drug usage drive this form of cheating. According to social psychologist Theresa E. DiDonato,

“Infidelity isn’t always deliberate and motivated by discontent with a current relationship… Perhaps they were inebriated or otherwise thrown into a situation they weren’t expecting.”

The more in love a person is with their lover, the more guilt they will feel as a result of their sexual contact after it has occurred. Guilty sentiments, on the other hand, tend to dissipate when the dread of being detected fades.

2. Obligatory Infidelity

This kind of infidelity is driven by the fear of being rejected if you refuse someone’s sexual advances. People may have sexual desire, affection, and attachment for their partners, yet they nevertheless betray because they have a tremendous need for acceptance.

Furthermore, their need for acceptance can lead individuals to act in ways that contradict their other emotions. To put it another way, some people cheat not because they want to but because they require the approval that comes with having others’ attention.

3. Romantic Infidelity

“A weakness in an existing relationship can sometimes (but not always) lead to extradyadic affairs,” adds DiDonato.

When a cheater has little emotional attachment to their partner, this kind of infidelity occurs. They may be committed to their marriage and making it work, but they want a more intimate, loving relationship. They will almost certainly never leave their spouse due to their commitment to the marriage.

But then, in most cases, romantic infidelity causes anguish for both the other man or woman and the cheating spouse. It rarely leads to a long-term, committed marriage. The marital difficulties may have been significant before a partner leaves the marriage for another.

4. Conflicted Romantic Infidelity

When people feel true love and sexual desire for more than one person at the same time, they commit this kind of infidelity.

Despite our utopian ideals of having one genuine love, deep romantic love for numerous individuals can happen simultaneously. While such scenarios are emotionally feasible, they are extremely complex. Furthermore, they cause a great deal of anxiety and stress.

In this situation, unfaithful partners often wind up hurting everyone in their attempt to avoid causing harm to anyone.

5. Commemorative Infidelity

This kind of infidelity occurs when a person is in a committed relationship but has no feelings for their partner.

The couple is kept together by a sense of obligation rather than sexual desire, love, or attachment. According to DiDonato,

“lack of love and lack of commitment to a current romantic partner are both linked to overall emotions of relationship discontent.”

These people rationalize infidelity by claiming that they have the right to seek out what they are missing in their current relationship. Unfulfilled sexual needs might easily play a role in this situation.

“Perhaps folks aren’t engaging in the frequency of sex, kind of sex, or specific sexual activities that they want in their established relationship,” DiDonato adds. “This may play a role in their decision to cheat.”

What Makes People Cheat?

Infidelity can be thrilling and tempting for the adulterous, bringing emotions of regeneration, rejuvenation, and delight. However, it is a betrayal, but it does not always mean the end of a relationship; infidelity also happens in happy marriages. The betrayed partner, on the other hand, may experience confusion, rage, doubt, pain, and heartbreak.

What are the most common causes of cheating?

The majority of people are aware of the consequences of cheating in a relationship, especially in a marriage. Infidelity is a predictor of depression, anxiety, and domestic violence, and it can lead to divorce and parental disruption. Despite this, many people stray, raising the question, “Why?”

For the most part, besides the reasons mentioned above, Falling out of love, seeking diversity, and feeling neglected were the most regularly mentioned reasons. Other reasons include situational circumstances, a desire to boost self-esteem, and anger with a partner.

Is It True That Men Stray More Than Women?

Men have always been more likely than women to cheat, or at least admit to doing so, but researchers have noted a shift in recent years.

16% of adults—roughly 20% of men and 13% of women—report having intercourse with someone other than their spouse while married. However, among persons under 30 who have never been married, 11% of women and 10% of males claim to have been perpetrators of infidelity.

People’s Perceptions of Infidelity

The boundary between benign flirtation and romantic betrayal is sometimes blurry, and many couples struggle because their definitions of cheating differ. Anything short of sexual interaction with another person is acceptable to some, whereas any attention to a prospective rival is unacceptable to others.

Is it harmful to fantasize about other people while in a Relationship?

Micro-cheating refers to activities that fall short of conventional definitions of infidelity but may nevertheless cause a partner to be upset. This may include flirting with an attractive neighbour or coworker with no intention of straying.

Sexual fantasies, on the other hand, are a different story. While many experts feel that sexual dreams about other individuals are not always detrimental to a relationship, provided they are not acted on and do not become a fixation, they can assist in sustaining sexual energy and interest. However, studies show that sexual dreams about one’s own spouse are more beneficial to a relationship.

Is pornography a type of Infidelity?

Because the partner watching porn does not know the performers and is not physically there with them, many people consider porn use to be potentially troublesome but not actually unfaithful. Some partners, on the other hand, believe that any sexual behaviour outside of the relationship is a sin.

Experts advise couples to be as open as possible with each other and to address whether one partner’s frequent usage of pornographic material registers signs of trouble in the couple’s own sexual relationship.

In other words. whether or not porn is a type of infidelity is relative. It’s totally dependent on belief systems, personalities and purpose. After all, couples watch it together for adventure and fun.

Getting Through Infidelity

Now that you’ve presumably sorted out your uncertainty, it’s up to you to decide what measures to take next. Marriages and relationships can survive infidelity, but it all depends on the type of infidelity in question. Plus, how much effort are you both ready to put in?

It should go without saying that an opportunistic cheater would cheat no matter how many times they are caught and forgiven. However, just because your spouse cheated once doesn’t mean they won’t do it again, so keep that in mind as you decide what to do next.

How does one decide whether or not to stay with a cheating partner?

Financial considerations, family ties, and shared parenting of young children all play a role in the decision to stay in a marriage after infidelity.

However, research shows that the opinions and advice of the wronged partner’s social network of friends and family is one of the strongest indicators of whether a couple will stay together.

Can you trust someone who has previously cheated on you?

Although one’s history does not necessarily predict one’s future, research shows that persons who cheated on a spouse in a previous relationship are three times more likely to do so in a subsequent relationship than people who have never cheated.

Individuals who have cheated have also been found to have a hypocritical attitude toward infidelity, blaming their partner’s behaviours for their own straying but taking no responsibility for their partner’s unfaithful acts.

What Is Considered Infidelity?

Simply put, infidelity is the act of being disloyal to a spouse or partner. It usually entails having sexual or romantic interactions with someone who is not one’s significant other.

What Does Infidelity Mean in a Relationship?

Infidelity also refers to breaking a commitment to stay true to a romantic partner, whether that commitment was a part of a marriage vow, a secret pact between lovers, or an unspoken assumption.

What Is the Difference Between Adultery and Infidelity?

Both married people and stable relationships are susceptible to infidelity. Adultery means having a physical or sexual relationship with another person.

Infidelity can take the form of emotional or physical involvement. In certain jurisdictions, adultery is a criminal act and grounds for divorce. 

Why Do People Cheat on People They Love?

When people desire something different in their relationship or when they feel things are too cosy, they cheat. They may seek variety in their sex lives, as well as some form of adventure to break up the monotony of their daily existence.


Speak with a therapist or counsellor to help sort through your thoughts and create a strategy for how to approach the situation if you think your spouse is cheating but are unsure of what to do. Taking care of your mental health is crucial if adultery is proven since the fallout from an affair may be traumatizing and difficult. Respect your emotional limits and treat yourself with kindness.

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