According to The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, nearly 50 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. When you consider that these statistics are nearly double what they were a short 10 years ago, clearly this is beyond an issue; it is now commonplace. But it's far from a surprise; it was predicted. Futurist Alvin Toffler wrote the best seller Future Shock in 1970, and with matter-of-fact conviction he wrote of "trial" or "temporary marriages"—young people's first marriages, lasting three months to three years—and of "serial marriages" that would take place after the dissolution of the "trial marriage" at specific turning points in people's lives.
So, does this mean marriage has "jumped the shark" and become obsolete? Hardly. Marriage is not the issue. Commitment and loyalty or the lack thereof are at the crux of this. After all, marriage is a legal and/or spiritual binding of two people… but if commitment isn't there and loyalty becomes a matter of subjectivity or convenience, the marriage is already nonexistent. Cheating then becomes a symptom of a secretly failed marriage.
But is it really so black and white, with no grey and no room for mistakes, missteps, or moments of weakness? Do people who cheat want to leave their current marriage? Are they secretly trying to get caught so they'll have an excuse to get out? I needed answers to these questions (and many others), so I headed where any high-tech junkie looking to cheat on his wife would go: online.
The Business of Infidelity
The advent of the Internet has made having an illicit affair easier than ever before. Meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, The Sequel, is a mere mouse-click for anyone with a credit card. If you're looking to Hit-It-And-Quit-It, there's AdultFriendFinder.com, Craigslist's Casual Encounters or Fling.com (among many others). But sex-only semi-anonymous hookups wasn't where my investigation was headed, as women looking to merely have sex can meet a man anywhere—nightclubs, coffee shops, Facebook, wherever.
My hypothesis was simple: women who were looking for an extramarital affair with another married man were looking to connect in some way. If both parties were married, they not only started on even ground, but they had something in common—they were missing something from their current relationship. I needed to uncover the motivations behind starting and maintaining an affair.