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17 Jul, 2009 05:52

Financial crisis at core of adulterous ties

Economic insecurity at home is leading increasing numbers of people to search for adulterous affection. An extra-marital match-making website is witnessing a surge in people swapping financial affairs for personal ones.

The world is in the grips of an economic downturn, and no one seems to agree on when it will end. But it is not just hitting our pockets – it is hitting our relationships too.

Illicitencounters.com is a website for married people who are looking for a fling. Spokesperson Rosie Freeman-Jones says the site experienced an unprecedented growth in members at the beginning of the financial freefall.

“The numbers have risen. Around the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in October last year, we saw a rise in membership of around 50%. And, around that time, we saw a rise in membership in professional areas – finance, banking, investment – most of the areas which saw a high rate of unemployment over those months,” says Freeman-Jones.

The staff at Illicitencounters do not judge their clients – they say the site provides a service for husbands and wives who need it. And “Pamela” is one of those wives. She has asked not to be identified because she does not want her husband to find out she has been using the internet for no-strings-attached sex for two years.

“The man I’m seeing at the moment, I’ve been seeing for about the past year. Over the last six or seven months, there is more tension within people’s marriages as people lose their jobs and there’s more strain on the family unit financially. My husband is a lot more stressed, and I am able to keep calm because I’m getting what I need without disturbing my situation,” Pamela, a client of Illicitencounters.com, told RT.

Illicitencounters.com sees professional people going outside their marriages for a bit of light relief from worrying about mortgages and school fees. And the state of their marriages is being used as an alternative way of predicting the health of the economy.

“A very turbulent and volatile market leads people to have more affairs. It’s one of these very different kinds of indicators, because the markets have been incredibly volatile – been through big ups and downs – and people are looking at ways that will tell us, ‘are we really at a bottom, are we really at a turning point, or is this just a blip in a bear market?’,” Matthew Lynn, a news columnist at Bloomberg, explained.

But we do not just have affairs in really bad times – we have them when we are on a financial high too. So, experts say what marriages all over the world really need is a steady market, which goes up by about 4% a year.

Statistics on affairs are notoriously unreliable, but even before the world went into economic freefall a study showed that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands had, at some point, engaged in extra-marital sex. But those numbers have definitely risen as the economic downturn puts pressure on relationships.

And if you are wondering when the economy is going to pick up, it might be a good idea to look a bit closer to home than the financial markets.