Not all cheaters are alike. Active prowlers know this, but most people don't. They assume that a cheater is a cheater is a cheater. Not so.
I've put together some descriptions of different types of cheaters. I make no moral judgement about any of them. Some people think that sex-only cheating is worse than emotional-only cheating. I don't know. I think it's up to the people involved. When I learned about my husband's infidelity, I was very relieved to learn that they were sex-only encounters, and that no emotional involvement was in play, but I know many others who would not agree.
Also, understand that no one fits in only one category for his/her entire life. People change. I've found myself in several of these categories at different times in my life. I've also been faithful for long stretches of time.
The "Affair of the Heart" Cheater - This is the type of cheater that most people think of when they think of infidelity. This cheater falls in love with someone other than his/her spouse, struggles with the issue, and then ends up consummating the affair sexually. This person probably didn't see the affair coming and may never have another, but s/he is fiercely committed to the relationship which is usually accompanied by a lot of guilt because it is both emotional and sexual. Contrary to the popular belief that most cheaters are male, there are just as many women as men in this category. This cheater is the most likely to actually leave his spouse voluntarily because the emotion, companionship, excitement, and great sex of the affair just underscores what is missing and miserable about his marriage.
The Serial Cheater - This type of cheater has fully embraced the lifestyle and has probably accepted the fact that monogamy is not for him. This person will cheat many times during his marriage, with many partners. Some of the affairs are sexual only, and others are emotional, but it's the newness that this cheater craves. If this cheater falls in love with a playmate, he will still cheat with others, too, because he needs that thrill and excitement of the hunt and the new catch. Some people believe that these cheaters are sex addicts, but that is not always the case. While sex is definitely involved in just about all of the serial cheater's connections, he is really looking for satisfaction of his need for newness and conquest.
The Variety Loving Cheater - This cheater is very much like the serial cheater except that he probably hasn't yet accepted the fact that monogamy is not for him. For this cheater, it's all about variety, and his cheating will be intermittent. He'll have periods of monogamy followed by spurts of infidelity with multiple partners for weeks or months and then he'll be monogamous again for a while. The periods of infidelity are stopped by guilt because he really is devoted to his spouse. This type of cheater is unlikely to leave his spouse unless he gets caught.
The Sex Only Cheater - It's all about the sex for this cheater. He doesn't want to develop relationships. He's not interested in "dating" or getting to know his playmate(s) at all. He'll stay after sex only as long as he needs to without appearing like too much of a jerk, and sometimes he'll go as far as to use only a fake name. One of the key features that differentiates this cheater from the other types is that he usually doesn't think he has really betrayed his spouse because he sees his behavior as physical only and he doesn't give away any of himself emotionally. He feels that he is only "partly cheating" because he doesn't become emotionally involved with his playmate(s). This cheater will rarely leave his spouse unless he is caught and the spouse gives him no choice.
The Emotional Relationship Only Cheater - This type of cheater is in an infidelity grey area. Because there may never be any physical sex, some people believe that this isn't really cheating, but spouses of emotional cheaters usually feel just as betrayed as spouses of cheaters who have sex with their playmates. Emotional cheaters are devoted to their spouses and won't (or don't want to) cross the line into a sexual relationship, but they crave an emotional connection. The affair may have started as a friendship, but it quickly evolves into a romantic relationship or a very close friendship. As he starts confiding more and more in his playmate and less and less in his spouse, his marriage deteriorates even further. The emotional affair often turns into a full-blown affair of the heart.
The Online Only Cheater - Like the emotional relationship cheater, this cheater doesn't think he's really cheating because the relationship isn't physical, but his spouse will feel just as betrayed if the affair is discovered. This type of affair is less likely than the others to become physical because the partners usually live far apart, although they do sometimes become physical and long lasting. These relationships can last for decades and these cheaters are the least likely to leave their spouses unless they are caught and the spouse initiates the split.
So, Prowlers, where do you fall in this list?