Distinguishing Between an Affair & a Relationship

Key Difference – Affair vs Relationship

Often, people wonder about the difference between an affair and a relationship. An affair usually refers to a relationship that is mainly sexual in nature, while a relationship encompasses a much broader context and can include romantic involvements and friendships. The key difference between the two is that an affair is primarily sexual, whereas a relationship goes beyond that.

Key Takeaways

  • Affair: mainly sexual in nature, often secret, and not a serious commitment
  • Relationship: can include romantic involvements and friendships, not primarily sexual, and involves serious commitments
  • Society often disapproves of affairs, while relationships are generally accepted

What is an Affair?

An affair is a relationship between two people that is primarily sexual. It typically involves at least one person who is already engaged in a romantic relationship, giving the affair an illicit undertone. In some cases, both individuals may be involved in other romantic relationships, unbeknownst to their partners. An affair is not a serious commitment and can be described as a fling, with a strong emphasis on the sexual component. Unlike a relationship, where individuals commit to each other and share their lives, affairs often disregard these aspects. As a result, affairs are generally frowned upon by society and can create strain within families.

What is a Relationship?

A relationship is a connection or association that exists between people. It doesn’t always have to be romantic or sexual; it can also be a friendship. The term “relationship” encompasses a wide range of connections, from friendships to romantic involvements. In a romantic relationship, both individuals have a commitment to each other and enjoy caring for and loving one another. Relationships are not usually kept secret, allowing for a strong, intimate bond to develop between partners while sharing their lives. In a healthy relationship, both individuals are valued, respected, and loved.

What is the difference between Affair and Relationship?

Definitions of Affair and Relationship:

Affair: A relationship between two people that is primarily sexual in nature.

Relationship: A connection or association that exists between people.

Characteristics of Affair and Relationship:


Affair: Narrow scope.

Relationship: Broad scope.


Affair: Mainly sexual.

Relationship: Not mainly sexual; can also be romantic or friendly.

Social Approval:

Affair: Generally disapproved of by society.

Relationship: Generally approved by society.


Affair: Kept secret, as partners are often unaware of the affair.

Relationship: Not typically kept secret.


Affair: Not a serious commitment.

Relationship: A serious commitment.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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