My Husband Said He Only Had A Fling, Not An Affair. What’s The Difference?

By: Katie Lersch: Many wives aren’t sure how to classify their husband’s infidelity.  This can be particularly true when the husband is claiming that his infidelity is not as bad as it could have been.  Many husbands will attempt to differentiate between a one night stand, a fling, cheating, and an affair.  I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with a woman who was lecturing at his work.  This woman was only in town and training at my husband’s office for two weeks.  Apparently, they began cheating a few days after her arrival and everything ended once she left to go back to her own office. My husband only told me about her because one of his coworkers threatened him that if he didn’t tell me, she would.  I am devastated.  But my husband says that I am overreacting because I’m acting as if he had a long term affair when he only had a fling.  He said that they both knew that there was not going to be anything lasting between them and there was no emotions involved.  He says it was a harmless fling and not a hot and heavy affair.  I don’t think there is any distinction between the two.  Cheating is cheating.  Is there any difference at all?”  I’ll give you my take on this in the following article.

The Thinking Behind The Argument That There’s A Difference Between An Affair And A Fling:  Here is the argument behind this thinking.  People in this situation will tell you that there was no long term deception.  They didn’t plan for it to happen but it did.  They acted impulsively, but things ended so quickly that this can’t even be classified as a relationship, much less an affair.  You’ll often hear assertions like “but it meant nothing to me.”   People who insist that they were only involved with a fling often feel that this is less of a betrayal and more of an impulsive mistake.  They’ll tell you that it wasn’t as if they were declaring their undying love for this person or promising that they were going to leave their wife, as is sometimes the case in affairs.

My Take On The Fling Versus Affair Argument:   It’s difficult for me to look at this topic with an open mind, but I do see where some husbands are going when they make this argument.  They are trying to reassure you that they weren’t serious about this other woman, but were just in it for the short term excitement.  And, I can tell you that many wives are very honest about the fact that they would rather their husband be physically unfaithful instead of being emotionally unfaithful.  The thought of their husband being in love with someone else or being emotionally invested with another woman is almost more than many can bear.  The thought that their husband would rather be with the woman in the affair than with them is another unbearable thought.

With all of this said, though, I would argue that a betrayal is a betrayal.   I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say that a fling or a one night stand isn’t really cheating because, to me, it is.   The husband has made a decision to be unfaithful to his wife, whether it is for the long or the short term.  Now, if knowing that there was no emotional connection is comforting to the wife, I do understand that.  However, I disagree with the husband’s argument that in some way, a fling is less of a betrayal than an affair.  Yes, a long term affair requires more planning, more deception, and there are often emotions involved.   But, recovery for a fling is just as necessary as recovery for an affair, since both can be a devastating betrayal to a faithful wife.

My husband’s cheating relationship was over very quickly and apparently there was not an emotional connection, so I suppose you could classify it as a fling.  However, these facts didn’t make it any less painful.  Recovery was still difficult, but necessary.  With that said, our marriage today is very strong.  With that said, I know many couples who have recreated marriages after an intense affair, so I don’t think that these classifications are all that necessary.  To me, what is truly important is recovery from betrayal.  If it helps, you can read about my recovery on my blog at

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