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- Portrait of an adulterer: secret shots of 50 married men I met on dating websites
Yet it is the most puritanical nations, including Britain and America, that have traditionally resisted the notion of adultery most rigorously. Ditch the lady weights and hit the iron. The internet doesn't improve adultery. Good marriage and puppy secret to long life. Why the Germans are far-sighted, Italians impatient and French depressive - according to studies. And they do so at a cost. Statistics confirm that British and American divorce rates are among the highest in the world. Around half of American first marriages end in divorce, closely followed by a third of first British marriages, floundering under unrealistic pressures, often celibate marital beds and drastic overreactions to infidelities.
I have always been baffled by the sour and rigid English view of affairs.
Adultery dating sites
Marital love and passion only rarely provide an equally rich source of the exalted feelings, transports of delight and misery associated with love and romance. Affairs are about excitement, being alive, seduction, flirtation, love, affection, sexual bliss, lust, caution, eroticism, fantasy, danger, adventure, exploration and the determined refusal to grow old gracefully.
There is also evidence that the more permissive the attitudes of a country, the longer marriages last. In France an affair is dubbed an aventure, free of insinuations of betrayal. It is estimated that a quarter of men and women are enjoying casual flings and affairs at any one time.
In Japan a tradition of geishas has evolved into a modern society where sex is seen as a pleasure to be enjoyed. Japanese pornography is consumed openly, by women as well as men, on the metro and in other public places. Sex is everywhere and it is also clearly separated from marriage. Meanwhile, Nordic countries are already way ahead of the game. These range from affairs between work colleagues lasting years to holiday flings lasting a few days.
Almost half of Finnish men and almost one third of Finnish women have had at least one significant parallel relationship. Yet marriage is a protected and respected institution in these countries, where families can function and flourish without compromise. If the internet offers a direct line to affairs, with a proliferation of websites for adults seeking a sexual partner outside of their marriage, it is worth remembering that our richer ancestors practised their own privileged version.
Emperors cavorted with courtesans, kings chose their wives for political manoeuvres and their mistresses for company, the aristocracy married for money and took lovers for pleasure.
The recipe for happiness? An enduring marriage and an affair with lots of sex
Inevitably there is the morality question. Even as religion has lost its influence, Britain has remained coy about openly embracing sex for pleasure, stubbornly conflating sexuality with procreation. There is also the army of therapists and counsellors who continue to pedal their own secret agenda of enforced exclusive monogamy. This killjoy attitude frames affairs as deviant escapism and fantasies without merit for people who have failed to grow up. Counsellors form a kind of emotional and intellectual police intent on keeping the door to infidelity locked.
Meanwhile, British feminists have already missed the chance to find a new kind of modern sexual morality appropriate to the 21st century. In practice, Anglo-Saxon feminism never liberated itself from the Puritan morality that downplays or rejects all forms of pleasure as sinful.
But sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal.
The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues. Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognise the benefits of a revitalised sex life outside the home.
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Already two American economists, David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, have attempted to measure happiness through sexual fulfilment in monetary terms. It is also a handsome sum when you consider how much longer people are living. In pre-industrial Britain marriages only lasted about 20 years, due to early death. Today, marriages can last 40 to 60 years. It is no coincidence that the peak ages for affairs in Britain and the United State is 45 for a woman and 55 for a man. Of course, it would be misleading to suggest that married dating does not have a certain morality of its own.
Just as there are rules for dating non-married people, a new set of rules is necessary to navigate the way through the secretive world of married dating on the internet. For many interviewees that I spoke to, whose names have been changed, negotiating the new rules can be a fraught business. Married people have less spare time and are often more specific and cautious in their search. Amy liked a man in his advert, but was put off by his wearing a shabby grey cardigan under his suit jacket; Kate was delighted on meeting Benjamin, elegant, clever and amusing, until it emerged he was into very experimental sex; when Oliver met Scarlett at her house for a first date, a swinging party was already under way, which was not what he had in mind.
This is one of the successes of the websites: Both parties can quickly establish that they want the same thing and that they are equally committed to secrecy and discretion. Every third client now has something to do with online infidelity. She is working on a case in which a husband signed up to an extra-marital affairs site in order to catch out his unfaithful wife. But situations like this are becoming all too common. Let the cheaters sweat. They only have themselves to blame if the whole world finds out their dirty little secret. Families shattered by the dating website for adulterers: As millions of cheats face being exposed by hackers 1.
Share this article Share. I felt so angry and confused. I was sickened to see his face pop up. The site destroyed my marriage of 20 years.
Portrait of an adulterer: secret shots of 50 married men I met on dating websites
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