8 Different Types Of Cheating & Infidelity That You Need To Know

When we think of infidelity, our minds often jump straight to secret romantic affairs. But infidelity can creep into a relationship in more ways than just the physical. 

There are many types of infidelity and cheating, from emotional cheating to physical cheating. All these types will be a bump in your relationship or marriage if you find out that your partner has involved themself in them. 

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While most relationships categorize physical intimacy with lovers as the only form of cheating, research shows that most women will get more upset when they find out about their partner’s emotional cheating. Research shows that 57% of marriages that end in divorce are due to infidelity.

 In this blog, we’ll break down the different types of cheating & infidelity so that you can know if your relationship is in jeopardy.  

types of cheating

1. Opportunistic Infidelity:

You may be wondering why people in happy marriages or relationships cheat. Opportunistic infidelity is the reason. It occurs when your partner is still attached to you and still loves you, but the temptations and opportunities make them cheat on you.

Opportunistic infidelity is driven by circumstances that make cheating easy for them. Opportunistic infidelity is common in workplaces, with colleagues who spend more time together and away from their partners.

Cheating does not always occur due to issues or dissatisfaction in a current relationship. It may happen even when your partner gets intoxicated and succumbs to temptation when an opportunity presents itself. 

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According to the LA Intelligence Detective Agency, between 30 and 60 percent of married individuals will engage in infidelity at least once during their marriage.

Consider Peter, who offers his female workmate a ride home one evening after a busy workday. They decide to pass by a local restaurant for some coffee but take a few more drinks. Under the temptation, both can easily succumb to them and take advantage of the opportunity.

The effects of opportunistic infidelity are so severe to the cheater that they will feel guilt after the act, especially when they are in love with their partner so much.

Types of Opportunistic Infidelity:

  • Travel-related Infidelity: This mostly arises when one of the partners is traveling alone for business or leisure, presenting them a chance for adultery in a place far away from their normal social environment. In other words, the geographical distance from the partner would make it easy to justify the act as a one-night stand.
  • Infidelity at a Social Event: This type of infidelity may occur as a result of opportunistic infidelity at social events, parties, reunions, or nights with friends. Alcohol and relaxation reduce inhibitions, which may make one act on impulses that are normally controlled.
  • Workplace Infidelity: One of the most common forms of opportunistic cheating is in the workplace. At the workplace, a person spends most of his time among colleagues. For close professional relationships, the promise may often land in personal attachment, especially in high-pressure or emotionally heated situations.
  • Online Infidelity: The rise of social media and dating apps now creates a landscape optimal for infidelity opportunities. Online platforms can offer opportunities for emotional and physical affairs, where anonymity and relative ease of access play a big role.
  • Rebound Infidelity: This is when an individual is still on the rebound from another relationship and, in the meanwhile, engages in casual relationships or encounters. Such emotional vulnerability is usually able to maintain open opportunities for opportunistic cheating, even if it leads to a new committed relationship.

2. Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity refers to secretly engaging in activities that go against agreed-upon financial goals or behaviors within a relationship. 

This can range from small purchases hidden from a partner to large-scale debts or investments made without the other’s knowledge or consent. At its core, financial infidelity breaches the foundational trust that relationships, especially those involving shared financial responsibilities or goals, are built upon.

Types of Financial Infidelity

  • Hiding Purchases: One partner makes purchases on the side and does not disclose them to the other, fearing judgment or conflict.
  • Concealing Debt: Accumulating credit card debt, loans, or other financial obligations without the knowledge of one’s partner.
  • Secret Accounts: Opening and maintaining bank or credit accounts in secret, possibly to manage hidden transactions or debts.
  • Gambling: Engaging in gambling or speculative investments without discussing potential risks and outcomes with a partner.
  • Financial Decisions: Making significant financial decisions, such as investing in stocks, real estate, or starting a business without the partner’s consent.
types of infidelity

3. Physical Infidelity:

Physical infidelity, often the first type that comes to mind when we think about cheating, involves engaging in physical or sexual activities with someone outside of one’s committed relationship. 

This can range from one-time incidents to ongoing encounters and might occur with or without an emotional connection to the other person.  Recent stats reveal that about 30-40% of unmarried relationships encounter physical infidelity, while around 18-20% of marriages also face physical cheating. 

Often, physical infidelity does not involve emotional attachment. It can be purely physical, driven by physical attraction or desire for novelty, without the deeper emotional connections typically associated with romantic relationships.

Types of Physical Infidelity:

  • One-Time Encounter: Physical infidelity of this nature happens only once and is done in a rather impulsive manner. It can happen completely at random, and more often than not, it happens when somebody is drunk or at a very low point in their life. The lack of forethought doesn’t necessarily lessen the blow, but it can often point to no emotional attachment to the affair partner.
  • Long-Term Affair: This is different from a one-night affair in the sense that a long-term affair involves continuing sexual intercourse with the same partner. The relationship can even develop an emotional attachment. This makes the affair complicated, hurtful, and very destructive to the self-esteem of the jilted partner.
  • Revenge Cheating: A person may cheat to retaliate against their partner, who may have cheated first. This is often to cause emotional hurt and not necessarily to gain physical or emotional satisfaction from the affair.
infidelity & cheating

4. Emotional Cheating:

Even though emotional cheating does not involve sexual intimacy with the affair partner, it undermines the relationship. 

If your partner is in an emotional affair with someone, they invest a particular closeness to someone else and cultivate a non-sexual intimacy with them. People emotionally cheat on their partners when they are lonely and feel their partner cannot end the loneliness by being close and friendly. 

 A 2023 study involving 90,000 participants found that 91.6% of women and 78.6% of men confessed to engaging in emotional infidelity. 

Emotional cheating can quickly turn into a sexual affair. This makes emotional cheating just as threatening as any form of cheating. Even if it does not reach the sexual phase, the effects of emotional cheating are so severe to a relationship when discovered. Most people claim the impacts of emotional cheating are so intense than physical cheating.

Types of Emotional Cheating:

  • The Online Affair: Thanks to the internet and social media, emotional affairs are nowadays totally lived online, without in-person contact. They are usually defined as establishing an emotional connection with somebody through texting, chatting, writing emails, or even communicating on social networks. 
  • The Work Spouse: Often developing between coworkers, this emotional affair occurs when two individuals share an intimacy that mirrors a marital relationship. They may spend excessive time together at work, eating lunch and taking breaks, offering each other moral and professional support. 
  • The Past Connection: Rediscovering an old flame or past acquaintance can lead to emotional infidelity. Nostalgia, in combination with unresolved feelings, can reignite emotional intimacy, especially if a firm bond or attraction is in place. 
  • Emotional Escape: One partner emotionally escapes from dissatisfaction or unhappiness in the primary relationship. This fantasy lets one escape to the idealized other, who provides emotional nourishment that is absent at home. Such an affair is often symptomatic of something deeper within the primary relationship.

5. Cyber  Infidelity:

An online affair that occurs on dating sites, texts, emails, and chats. Even when the parties involved are anonymous or communicate to the point of meeting up, it is still one common type of infidelity. It is estimated that between 20 and 33 percent of internet users engage online for sexual purposes. Most users are males, approximately 35 years old, married with children, and well-educated.

Sometimes, it also occurs between individuals who know each other, friends, and your partner. Even if the affair partners do not meet in person, the emotional affair is often enough to cause issues in their committed relationships. For this type of infidelity, it’s best to try out a reverse phone lookup and reverse email lookup services.

Types of Cyber Infidelity:

  • Online Dating and Flirting: This type includes using dating applications or sites to meet and flirt with others despite being in a committed relationship. Individuals may create profiles on these apps and websites and engage in conversations that are largely romantic or sexual, most often under the cloak of anonymity.
  • Social Media Affairs: Engaging in intimate or flirtatious interaction with someone on social media platforms as a way of cyber cheating. This can be through direct messaging, sending private photos, or long-winded comment sections on one’s posts, done in secrecy by one’s partner.
  • Sexting: When one sends and receives sexually explicit messages, photos, or videos through smartphones or the internet, it is what is known as sexting. If sexting is practiced outside a serious relationship and one’s partner is either not aware of it or has not consented to it, then it is classified under cyber infidelity.
  • Emotional Infidelity Online: This is similar to in-person emotional infidelity and occurs when one becomes deeply emotionally connected with another person over the internet. It may extend to sharing personal issues, daily communication, and confiding in each other.
  • Virtual Reality and Avatars: As such, with technology, even virtual reality platforms or gaming systems, where users are required to create avatars, may become a ground for cyber infidelity, where one is involved in relationships of a romantic or sexual nature with those avatars.
  • Secret Financial Transactions: This includes spending money on another person through online platforms without knowing one’s partner. This might be for gifts, financial support, or even subscriptions to content from the other person (such as private photos or videos).

6. Conflicted Romantic Infidelity

Yes. It is possible to love more than one person at a time. When this happens, your partner may cheat on you with the other person and still love you. 

Despite our beliefs that there is only one true love, many have claimed that there are different types of love. Your partner may love you for your personality and character, which you blend so well with each other, but they still connect their sexual desires and emotions with another person. 

They love their affair partner for the sexual experiences. Most people in this situation are deemed selfish since they fear ending one relationship for another because both partners fulfill their desires differently.

Conflicted romantic infidelity is so complicated that cheating partners do not know how to end an affair.

Types of Conflicted Romantic Infidelity:

  • Emotional Affairs exist in which very strong emotional ties exist but have not become physical yet; however, one puts a lot of emotional energy and time into someone else apart from the main relationship. Examples can be sharing personal thoughts, feelings, and other details of life that would usually be the exclusive domain of the partner.
  • Long-Term Affairs: This type of affair involves cheating that continues over time. In most long-term affairs, the partner who is cheating can get romantically involved with the person with whom they are having an affair. These affairs can last for months and even years, causing an emotional bond to take place that will complicate the main relationship.
  • Rekindled Romances: Sometimes, people enter into affairs with past lovers or old flames. Such infidelity has its roots in nostalgia, a battle between unresolved feelings in the past that becomes much tenser when old emotions start rekindling.
  • Transitional Affairs: These refer to those in which a person is considering the end of the present relationship and has an affair to become involved with another person. This is a symptom of such profound dissatisfaction with the primary relationship that the affair could be a path to a different life or relationship.
  • Forbidden Affairs: These relationships are otherwise termed inappropriate or forbidden due to social, professional, or familial boundaries. “Forbidden” is highlighted here because it makes the relationship more emotionally intense and filled with conflict, as the people in it know the possible blows if it all went to the wrong people.
types of cheating & infidelity

7. Object Infidelity:

Object infidelity occurs when one partner becomes overly engrossed in activities or interests outside the relationship to the extent that it becomes a primary focus, neglecting the emotional and physical connection with their partner.

This is also covered in our guide How to Catch a Cheater – 17 Ways to Get Proof of Cheating

Types of Object Infidelity:

  • Workaholism: This is among the most common type of infidelity. A workaholic will tend to put his job or career ahead of personal relationships, spend extra hours at work, or may bring work home. There will be a neglect of the partner and family life.
  • Technology or Social Media Obsession: Excessive use of phones, computers, or social media can be termed object infidelity when one partner spends most of their time on these social media sites, gaming, or surfing at the expense of couple time and communication.
  • Hobby or Sport Commitment: Although hobbies and sports are healthy, in the extreme, they can replace important relationships. Object infidelity occurs when hobbies or sports occupy a person’s discretionary time and energy, leaving little to invest in the partner.
  • Friendship Over-involvement: Sometimes, it might be that a partner is over-involved in friendships to the detriment of the romantic relationship. For instance, most time is spent with friends, sharing emotional intimacies, or the friends’ needs come first.
  • Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is a more intense form of object infidelity, where the addicted party puts their priority to their substance use before their relationship, and this often leads to emotional or sometimes physical neglect of their partner.
  • Secret Spending: As controversial as it may seem, hiding your spending habits from your partner is also considered a type of infidelity and cheating. This is mostly when the spending affects the relationship, yet the person still holds their spending a secret. It is also considered as object infidelity. 

8. Romantic Infidelity:

Affairs may also be romantic and turn out to be “matters of the heart.” Romantic affairs occur when your partner has little emotional attachment towards you. 

They may blame love for fading. The connection and the intimacy you used to share are no longer there. Although they may be committed to marriage and make it work out, they may find romance elsewhere. This is due to the urge to connect with someone of the opposite sex, something missing in their relationship.

Most romantic relationships, however, are just short-term and do not lead to breakups due to commitments.  Most of the other types of infidelity, including physical, emotional, micro-cheating, and conflicted romantic infidelity, eventually lead to romantic infidelity. 


Now that you know the different types of infidelity and cheating, it’s up to you to decide on the next steps to take. However, depending on the kind of infidelity your partner is committing, you can always work things out and save your marriage or relationship.

Check out our guide to Surviving infidelity and learn more about how to deal with cheating partners. An opportunistic cheater may always cheat once they have the opportunity, regardless of how many times they can be discovered and forgiven. If your partner cheated in other forms, it doesn’t mean they cannot cheat again.

What makes the difference is how you approach issues after cheating and the efforts to save the relationship.

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