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The 7 Different Types of Infidelity

Do You Know the Different Kinds of Cheating?

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When most people think of cheating, the first thing that comes to mind is sex. But physical infidelity isn't the only type of cheating. In fact, a recent Norwegian study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that women are more likely to be upset by an emotional affair than a physical one.

Say whaaat? "When it comes to procreation, a woman needs a man who is invested in her offspring," says psychologist Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. "Being physically intimate with another woman doesn't detract from that investment, but forming an emotional attachment to another woman does."

Of course, that doesn't make physical infidelity any better (or worse) than emotional infidelity. But it does raise the question of what, exactly, constitutes as cheating. One definition: "Secrecy is a good litmus test—if you wouldn't tell your partner about the interaction, no matter how 'innocent' you think it is, you're having an affair," says clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark. Other ways you could be cheating? Here are seven. (Read more about The New Wave of Infidelity.)

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You Spill Secrets to Your Work Husband

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It's one thing to have a close friend at work with whom you can laugh about your supervisor's insane requests. It's another thing to have a "work spouse," or someone you spend all of your time with and share all of your secrets (even if they're just work secrets) with. The solution to this one is pretty easy, though—make sure your actual spouse knows about your work life. Your partner may not be "in the trenches" with you, but that doesn't mean you need to keep them in the dark.

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You Flirt Online

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The Internet opens up a world of opportunities for infidelity—with friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. "Playful banter in a public forum can quickly become flirty and intimate," Clark says. "It's an odd mix of intimacy and disconnect." It's easy to become overly-intimate with someone online because of the Internet barrier between you. But this doesn't make it okay, Clark says—anonymous online flirting is still an emotional investment.

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You're Having a Phone Affair

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You're probably already cheating on your guy with your phone. Don't believe us? Think about the last time you went to dinner or spent a lazy evening in bed without your smartphones glued to your faces (see, he's guilty too). (P.S. That's making you and your parner depressed.) But if you find yourself exchanging a flurry of texts with a random guy friend or tweeting furiously at some dude on Twitter, rather than talking to your boyfriend, you might be having a phone affair.

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You're Too Close to Your Opposite Sex BFF

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There's nothing wrong with having opposite-sex friends, or even opposite-sex best friends. And it's only natural to share intimate details about your life with your best bud. But this is where Clark's secrecy litmus test comes in—if you can't (or won't) tell your guy about the conversations you have with your guy friends, then something's fishy. (Here's How to Be Friendly (Not Flirty!) with Male Friends.)

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You Cross the Line with Strangers

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"Novelty is a big player in attraction, and anonymity offers opportunity," Clark says. Taking a solo trip can cause you to do things you wouldn't normally do—like cheat. This doesn't necessarily mean sex with a stranger. "Maybe you meet some guy on a plane, and he flirts with you, flatters you, gives you something you're not getting in your primary relationship," Clark says. "If you engage in a way that helps you fill whatever void you have in your primary relationship, you're entering emotional infidelity territory." Of course, sex with a stranger also counts.

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Your Addicted to Porn or Sex Toys

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Porn and sex toys aren't people, but that doesn't mean you can't cheat with them. "Porn addiction is a very real thing," Clark says. "Using porn regularly can negatively impact your arousal for your partner, which means your sex life will suffer." Both porn and sex toys, when used as frequent aids for solo sex, can give you unrealistic expectations (e.g. a dildo is not a penis) for sex with your partner. (Are you part of Generation Smut?)

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You Dream of Other Lovers

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It's both ridiculous and impossible to police your dreams and thoughts. But if you're constantly dreaming or fantasizing about other men, Clark suggests you take that as a warning sign—something's not going well in your relationship. That doesn't mean you can never fantasize about Chris Hemsworth's sexy abs during sex, it just means that you shouldn't always be thinking about a guy other than your partner.

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