A bit on the side at the click of a mouse:
'Happily married' men explain why they go online looking for affairs...
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"Within minutes I had five messages and as many ‘winks’. By the afternoon I had 133 messages. Many were looking for ‘dirty chat’ without ever intending to meet me. They were clearly looking for a one-off notch on the bedpost"

By Helen Croydon. As featured in The Mirror in August 2012.

Extra-marital affairs are seemingly never out of the news. In the last week ­Twilight’s Kristen ­Stewart, ­co-star Robert ­Pattinson’s girlfriend, has confessed to an affair with her married director Rupert Sanders, 41, and ‘heartbroken and devastated’ Anthea Turner is reported to have thrown out ­husband Grant Bovey over an alleged affair with an interior designer.
 
So what kind of married man strays, and more importantly, why? To find out journalist Helen Croydon, 35, checked out maritalaffair.co.uk, a website where husbands (and wives) can find a ‘bit on the side’ just by logging on.
 
My computer beeps. It’s an instant message. “All alone in a hotel. Big bed. Waiting for you,” writes 52-year-old John who claims to be an office manager. His photo shows him in a white shirt, leaning against a hotel wall. I can’t see if he’s attractive because the top of his head is deliberately chopped out of shot. 
 
“Looking for hot sex. I keep in shape and have clean teeth!” quips another 32-year-old who has posted a photo of his bare torso. Do I know these men inviting me to bed? No. Are they single? No, and they make no attempt to hide it.
 
They are among the 600,000 members on website maritalaffair.co.uk, one of a number of adultery sites which ­guarantee members anonymity. Each day, the site gets 35,000 visits and 700 new members who are invited to ‘find other adult contacts who enjoy meeting for more passion’. Men pay £30 a month but it’s free for women to use. 
 
Slipping into an affair is bad enough, but who would be so calculated as to go looking? To find out I set up a fake profile, claiming to be ‘happily married but looking for extra fun’ (a line I copied from others’ profiles).
 
I wrote: “Been married since university and beginning to feel I’ve missed out on life – looking for someone to add originality.” I didn’t say whether I had any children. No one seemed to mention that in other profiles. And I added an old photo which showed off my body shape in a revealing cocktail dress but my head was turned so my face was unrecognisable.
 
Within minutes I had five messages and as many ‘winks’. By the afternoon I had 133 messages. Many were looking for ‘dirty chat’ without ever intending to meet me. They were clearly looking for a one-off notch on the bedpost. Ages ranged from 21 to 61 years old. Most didn’t reveal their jobs, some didn’t write anything at all while others were upfront – “Married and planning to stay that way. Want to meet attractive woman for occasional afternoon fun.”
 
There were a surprisingly high number of headshots. A lot of the men were overweight, scruffy and unattractive, but some were handsome. Getting a date was shockingly easy. Within 48 hours, I’d arranged to meet three different married men for afternoon coffee.
 
They all suggested areas near to where they worked in different parts of central London, but none asked which area would be convenient for me. Once we’d established an area, they left it to me to suggest a venue.
 
Robert
Donning a fake wedding ring to appear married and wearing a summer dress and low heels, I greeted Robert, a 39-year-old events organiser at an outdoor cafe on the South Bank. Well-spoken, charming and trim, he revealed he was married with two ­children under eight. “I’ve been married for four years but we’ve been together for 12. I’m happy with what I have but I want more. It’s in our human nature to want more. I don’t get enough sex if I’m honest. The dynamic changed between me and my wife after the children. The focus became all about them. I’ve never cheated since the kids came along but I had an odd fling or two with an ex before we married.”
 
So what prompted him to even look for a site like this? “I’d been thinking of joining for a while but I wouldn’t do anything that might jeopardise us or to make her suspect. I don’t want to hurt my wife. Last week I shipped her and the kids off to South Africa so this is my window of opportunity.”
 
I couldn’t resist asking him how he would feel if his wife did the same. “I’d go apoplectic,” he confessed. “I know that’s hypocritical and I know that sounds a b****** thing to say but it’s a male pride thing.”

 

 
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