The Different Types of Infidelity: Part I

Infidelity (AKA cheating, affairs) is a hard thing to experience. It can make you doubt yourself and question everything you thought you knew about your relationship. One of the tricky parts about infidelity is that you can’t clearly define it without a serious conversation with your partner. Sometimes infidelity just involves sex which can be pretty easy to define. Other times, it involves much more complicated actions that have a different level of significance to everyone. 

The most simple way to define cheating (infidelity) is this: the act of being unfaithful to your partner. 

Past this generalization, it gets a bit trickier. We’re going to give you a little more clarity on how someone can cheat on you so you can discuss it with your partner and create those healthy boundaries for your relationship. Keep in mind that this article talks about types of infidelity in reference to the ways it’s done (emotionally, physically, etc). If you’re interested in finding out the types of infidelity based on the motivation behind it, keep and eye out for Part 2!    

Physical Infidelity 

Physical infidelity is one of the most common types of infidelity. It involves physical or sexual involvement with another person outside of the relationship. This can include things like having sexual relations or even just kissing someone that’s not in the relationship.

Emotional Infidelity 

This type of infidelity is sometimes described as being worse than your standard physical infidelity. That’s because in emotional affairs, your bond with your partner can start to suffer severely. You might find yourself or your partner caring about each other less and developing more of a relationship with someone you’re not even in a relationship with. This kind of disconnect is damaging to your relationship and makes it hard to come back to each other and heal.


Micro-infidelity can most easily be described as a behavior that goes too far for one’s liking or low scale intimacy that crosses the line, but doesn’t usually have further intentions outside of the relationship.  

Flirting is a big example of micro-infidelity that can cause problems. There are many people that say that flirting is cheating, but there are also many others that disagree. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, you’re not wrong. You just have to make sure you have a conversation with your partner about what’s too far.  

Cyber (Digital/VIrtual) Infidelity  

In our current society, it’s really easy to have relationships with other people, even if you’ve never met in person. Social media gives us nearly instant access to so many people around the world. This means that you can easily (and oftentimes privately) develop relationships with people outside of your relationship. This can still be harmful though, because not only can you become disloyal to your partner, but it also can take a significant amount of your time and energy from the relationship.

It is important to note that some people do consider watching pornography to be cheating. Again, this is something you have to talk to your partner about to establish boundaries. 

Object Infidelity  

The final main type of infidelity I want to talk about is object infidelity. If you’ve ever heard, “Oh, so-and-so is married to their job,” then you’ll get the gist of this type of infidelity. The best way to clearly define object infidelity is this: you or your partner develops an interest outside of the relationship that damages your relationship. Basically, emotionally cheating but with an inanimate object or thing (like work, a hobby, or phone). Remember that this does not mean you can’t have other interests or a job, it just means to pay attention to the time you’re giving those things in relation to your relationship and try finding ways to focus on just the two of you. 

Again, this is a type of infidelity that you’d need to talk about with your partner first. This is not considered cheating to everyone, so it’s really important to make sure that you and your partner both know where you stand. 

Combined Infidelity Types 

While each type of infidelity can occur on their own, sometimes two different types of infidelity can happen at the same time. Other times, one type of infidelity can lead to another. This makes it especially important to note the distinction between what is and isn’t considered infidelity to each person in the relationship. This clarity can help the other person in the relationship set their own boundaries so things don’t go too far.

I hope this article gives you the clarity you need to have an informed discussion with your partner about what you each consider to be infidelity. One of the best ways to prevent each other from getting hurt is to set this healthy boundary ahead of time and not wait until a crisis appears to address the distinction of whether or not you consider the same things as infidelity. 
If you need support, we’re here for you. If you need some third party assistance setting up boundaries, want to work on maintaining a healthy relationship, or even need help coming back together after a falling out or affair, we’re here to help. You can find us on our website at, by phone at (509) 800-7129, or by email at [email protected]. We are located in Liberty Lake, Washington, just minutes from Spokane, WA, and Coeur D’ Alene, ID.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *