The first time the e-mail came through my inbox, I just deleted it, mildly annoyed that spam didn’t pick it up. The second time, I was intrigued and opened it. “Married but Lonely”, the header said and, “Why Wait? Have an affair with a cheating wife in your area today – Search the largest site of cheating wives”. Whoever hides behind this business, they either got my sex wrong or they were trying to recruit me. I didn’t really care to find out which was which but I became rather obsessed with the thought of this multitude of wives everywhere, offering their services. A cheap thrill? A way to round up the paycheck? Wasn’t there an inherently high risk of being discovered, should the husband decide to avail himself of such services? Or a family friend? I simply didn’t believe these women were for real or, at least, their photos couldn’t be (you can check “a fine example” here).
My friend S, a delightful 49-year-old French woman, petite and spunky as you would imagine a French woman to be, regale me with hysterically funny stories of her internet dating adventures. We spend hours pouring over photos of possible candidates who surfed her profile and she is no stranger to men who are clearly married and want a bit of action. For free. Some claim their wives agree to an open relationship, although the muddy photos they post indicate otherwise. I have no statistics on married women taking the same approach on match.com, ok cupid and the likes nor do I have that many male friends admitting to dating on-line that I can poll. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were also a presence.
These sites all require an enormous investment of time and patience that, if I were dating, I couldn’t possibly summon. Let alone a married woman with a husband, or a family or a job. So if you are looking for some sex outside the marriage, the option of offering your services, and being paid to boot, might be a more viable alternative. Both parties know from the outset what the “relationship” entails. The proverbial “no strings attached” is indisputably the cardinal rule here.
Surfing the net looking for such sites, I stumbled upon many based in the UK, in the most unlikely of places: British suburbia. “Having a hard time finding a sexual partner in your area? Try available women who are already in committed relationships”. Fancy a spot of infidelity instead of lunch at your desk?
According to studies on both sides of the pond, infidelity, especially female, is on the rise . Justification for this phenomenon, as old as the world, is the difficulty in sustaining a monogamous relationship. Men and women mingle in ways that was not possible a couple of centuries ago and physical attractions spark. And, if you have been sleeping with the same partner for years numbering in the double digits, the idea of trying something new might be vastly appealing. Southern Europeans are more open to the idea, with the French leading the way: 3/4 of French men and 50% of French women condone infidelity. Always carried out with discretion and with the firm understanding of never revealing, never admitting.
But office escapades or what is supposed to be “a bit on the side” can often lead to tears. The feeling of falling in love comes into play, one partner gets more involved than the other and what had started as simple evasion turns into a second relationship that needs managing. Really, who has the time and energy for all this much conceit and emotional turmoil?
Which is how the internet comes to the rescue. Here is what I am offering, this is what I am paying, this is what I look like, when do you want to meet? Novelty, frisson, excitement and money to boot. In some instances, the sites act just as hook-ups, with no financial transaction involved. Take your pick.
I have personally come to the conclusion we expect too much of sex, whether it’s sustaining a lifelong attraction or a continual renewal of techniques and fantasies. If we haven’t tried every pose in the Kamasutra or in any of the sex manuals available (some of which are probably sitting on our shelves) we feel like a failure. Women read “50 shades of grey” and start questioning why they didn’t introduce sexual slavery or bondage earlier in their lives. As if (by the way, for anyone who wants something shorter and better written in the same vein, I would stick with “The Story of O” – the French just do it better).
More than the loss of sexual desire, what I think happens in long-term couple dynamics, often leading to infidelity, monetized or otherwise, is the breakdown of communication. We stop talking about what we want, or don’t want – whether it’s sex on the kitchen table or cuddling on the couch with a candy bar, watching Seinfeld re-runs. We expect sex to happen just because it did so beautifully at the beginning of the relationship. Different people rate the need for sex differently at various stages in their lives and, again, it’s rarely thought of to talk about it honestly. We imagine our neighbours going at it every other day and we feel sub-par if we don’t.
We keep on looking for that heady feeling of excitement that is unavoidable at the onset of any encounter and that, let’s face it, it’s hard to replicate with the partner you have shared dish and nappy changing duties with.
Two women, in as many weeks, mentioned to me how their sexual relationships with their husbands improved after taking week-end workshops with sexual and marriage counsellors. Maybe. Whatever works. I believe that accepting and welcoming the changes that naturally come in any relationship, discussing them and trying different approaches might be the best solution. In short, remaining engaged and engaging. If the alternative is to peddle our services on tawdry websites, why not just opt for singlehood?