The Brits who say affairs save their marriages
Missy* is 41, married and regularly sleeps with men she met online. “Me and my husband have never been sexually compatible,” she tells me. “I have a much higher sex drive than him. After we got married, it really shrunk.” Missy loves her husband, but she can’t remember the year they last had sex. They no longer kiss each other on the lips or say goodnight. She says he has refused to consider the idea of an open marriage, but she has no intention of leaving him either. In fact, she believes online dating saved her marriage. She manages the blame by dividing her affairs.
“My home is one thing, my work is another,” she explains. “And that’s something else I have because I’m not getting what I need out of marriage.” She has secretly dated around 13 men since she began searching for new sex partners online a decade ago, and adheres to a strict set of rules. “I don’t want men who want relationships. I would not date someone in their first year of marriage or who is engaged. It’s just not okay for me. And I won’t see anyone younger than me.”
Society teaches us from an early age to seek love from only one person to whom we must be physically devoted until death do us part. But what if it’s not always that easy? What if you are one of the increasing Britons using online dating sites for extramarital affairs? According to a 2022 study by Currys, 17 percent of married couples have slept with someone they met on sites like Tinder or Plenty of Fish. According to a study by broadband provider Zen Internet this year, 6 percent of married couples also regularly use dating apps and websites.
“I tell my husband I’m going into town to meet friends; going to dinner or a bar,” Missy continues. “I never do sleepovers. Men offer to spoil me, take me away. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I pay for myself I’m on my way there. I don’t need a man to take care of me. There is no way my marriage would have survived without it. If it wasn’t for online dating, I’d have affairs closer to home. For a long time I thought my husband had the problem. But now so many men are contacting me that I feel desired. Why shouldn’t I have something that’s just for me? Being with other men is an act of self-care.”
But it can also be a dangerous game. Missy, who works in local government, once accidentally arranged a drink with a professional contact. They laughed it off, went their separate ways and pretended it never happened. Another woman who was dating outside of marriage was caught not realizing her Hinge membership was being charged to her and her husband’s joint account. And Steve*, 47, was once almost caught when his wife surprised him at his hotel on a “work trip”. He had planned to meet up with a woman he was sleeping with and had rushed to the bathroom to cancel the rendezvous over the phone.
Steve says he’s had four brief affairs with women he met online, only allowing them to contact him through his work phone or Kik, a mobile messaging app. He works in the financial sector and is often away from home, making it easy for him to stay in hotels and hide his expenses. “I used to go for a walk to call a lover, but I don’t do that every day,” he says. “I don’t want to develop feelings for anyone and that way I can control things.”
Like Missy, Steve does not want to separate from his wife but believes he married too early and missed the date. He also says he “wouldn’t dare” discuss with his wife whether they could have an open marriage, claiming that his wife is “very reserved” and would “disapprove of anything ‘different’ in a relationship.”
“I feel guilty,” he says. “I still love my wife very much. But the physical side of our relationship ended after our last child was born. I feel like dating is better than dissolving my personal life. It gave me the release I really needed. The stress of keeping secrets is pretty easy to deal with now and the lady I’m dating knows the limitations; We only contact each other during working hours and I can delete Kik from my phone at any time. We never expect immediate answers and schedule meetings around my workday. It makes me feel alive again. I’m happier, more confident and more bearable to live with.”
This is a general topic. According to Illicit Encounters, a dating site aimed at facilitating extramarital affairs, 70 percent of people say their relationship is happier because of infidelity. According to a spokesman, the site sees “several thousand” new sign-ups every month – it’s free for women to use and men pay a £139 membership fee. But could it ultimately cost a lot more when her other halves find out?
Alison Blackler is a relationship coach and author of A Journey Taken – How to Make Relationships Meaningful, and warns couples about cheating. “The number of married dating apps seems to be increasing,” she says. “But infidelity is usually a sign that a relationship isn’t right. In my experience, extramarital sex is not good for relationships. It is harmful and creates insecurity, anger, jealousy and distrust. Typically, people seeking extramarital sex are looking for some sort of validation or validation, and that need is only met in the short term. In my experience, the person having the extramarital affair doesn’t think about the impact on the other parties involved – and some would say they are [being] egotistical.”
Divorce attorney Ayesha Vardag, founder and president of law firm Vardags, has worked on hundreds of adultery cases and says she sees a “huge volume” of divorce requests related to dating app infidelity. “The same patterns keep popping up,” she explains. “A lot of people are so focused on being parents that they forget about being a couple. Too many fall into this trap when they have families. When the sex life dies, the relationship follows. Sex releases love hormones that bind you to your partner and make you feel close to each other. Putting work or children before sex leads to breakdowns that can harm both.”
Marie*, a stay-at-home mum from Norwich, says that despite the danger of divorce that lurks with affairs, she’s found that married people are searching for sex online more often than she thought. Like Missy, Marie has her own moral compass to navigate the choppy waters of marriage dating. She refuses advances from married men who have never cheated before and from men who have children under the age of two. “I’m extremely loyal and family-oriented,” she explains. “I’ve always been against cheating. My father cheated on my mother three times. It destroyed me. It’s just not in my character. But I have a second life. When I told my best friend what I was doing, she cried. In my circle of friends, I would be the last person they would choose as a scammer.”
Marie has been married for 20 years and was looking for someone to satiate her sexual appetite after her husband turned down an open marriage. In one week she slept with three different men. “I’ll make it very clear,” she says. “I have no intention of leaving my husband and children, and I have less intention of encouraging them [my lovers] to leave theirs. That just doesn’t happen. If my husband would give me what I need, there is no way I would.”
“I love my husband, but I’m not in love with him,” she adds. “He has no physical interest in me. I really enjoyed meeting people online. I had a fantastic life with my husband. We traveled around the world, he made it possible for me not to work. I regret nothing. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t do that. But…” she sighs. “It’s not an ideal world.”
*Names have been changed
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/married-affairs-infidelity-open-marriage-b2297484.html The Brits who say affairs save their marriages