Yes, People Are Still Having Affairs in Quarantine

Cheating is a little trickier when you’re on lockdown with your spouse, but where there’s a will there’s a way

“Are you going to have to start having sex with your wife?” is a question I asked a friend about a month ago, after he mentioned that the many lockdowns then just going into effect around the country had put a damper on his regularly scheduled extramarital dalliances.

A serial cheater of at least a decade whose work typically provides a handy excuse for frequent travel and nights away from home, John, a 50-year-old from Boston, had suddenly found himself quarantined with the wife he hadn’t slept with in years, unable to even meet up with a local stripper he’d met online.

“Coronavirus is cock blocking me on multiple fronts,” he told me over text.

But not even a cock block of COVID proportions could necessitate a return to the marriage bed. Instead, John had already resigned himself to a sexless quarantine. “RIP to the next girl I have sex with,” he texted, kindly adding droplets and a crashing wave emoji in case I really wanted to visualize what he was getting at.

While it may be nice to imagine quarantine conditions pushing cheating or distant spouses back together again, Parent Trap-style, the reality may be the exact opposite. As predictions of a looming post-COVID divorce spike suggest, quarantine is likely to challenge many marriages, so it’s hard to believe those already dealing with infidelity will fare much better.

“This is not going to suddenly create better wives and husbands simply because they’re on forced lockdown,” says Paul Keable, Chief Strategy Officer at extramarital dating platform Ashley Madison. In fact, as cheating spouses lose access to the sexual and emotional outlet of an extramarital affair, already strained marriages may only be more likely to see increased tension.

“The reality is, if you were already looking for or involved in an extramarital affair, suddenly being put on lockdown with the individual you’re looking to escape from on some level is not going to be beneficial,” Keable tells InsideHook. “Those issues were already there, and before, you had a number of distractions to avoid thinking about them. Now you don’t have any of those things. So it’s probably going to be worse for a lot of people.”

While quarantine may make it more difficult to connect with an extramarital partner, a recent spike in new Ashley Madison users suggests plenty of people are up for the challenge. According to Keable, the site is averaging over 16,000 new signups per day, up from 15,000 in 2019, and those numbers appear to be rising as quarantine drags on. When I spoke with Keable last week, he told me the platform had seen 17,900 new signups the previous day alone.

Keable compares the current quarantine spike to an increase in user signups Ashley Madison typically sees in the first few weeks of January, after an extended period of time spent home with family over the holidays may have exposed and deepened the fractures that often cause people to begin dating outside their primary relationships. “What’s happening here is that same sort of phenomena writ large,” says Keable, adding that he expects to see site traffic continue to increase “exponentially” as lockdowns persist.

However, as John realized once canceled flights and work-from-home orders made it nearly impossible to arrange an extramarital tryst, quarantine conditions pose some significant challenges for those looking to begin or maintain an affair.

For one thing, hooking up with a stranger isn’t exactly what we might call social distancing, but even if you’re willing to accept the COVID-related risks, trying to arrange a clandestine hookup amid a lockdown is a logistical nightmare. Many hotels are closed, and with work-from-home orders eliminating any pretense of working late, business dinners, company happy hours or work-related travel, a good excuse for leaving the house is hard to come by. Moreover, while most singles or partners separated by quarantine at least have the option of remote sex, sharing close quarters with a primary spouse makes a secret phone or video sex session tough to pull off.

“The lack of privacy makes video calls impossible, so I stick to sexting and emails,” says Rose, a 43-year-old Ashley Madison user from New York currently quarantined with her husband. “Being quarantined with my spouse has made our relationship more tense. He used to travel extensively for work, but now he’s around all the time,” she tells InsideHook.

Like John, Rose, who began using Ashely Madison within five years of her marriage, finds that quarantine conditions haven’t done much to rekindle the flame with her husband. “My spouse and I haven’t been together sexually in a while and quarantine hasn’t changed that,” she says, adding that the only thing that has changed is her “freedom to date and have sex with others.”

While Keable suggests that many people joining Ashley Madison in lockdown may simply be looking for an outlet in the form of a virtual connection, he admits that it often “becomes challenging to maintain a relationship without the possibility of in-person communication.” As John texted me last month, “It’s so hard to maintain relevance in a FWB [friends with benefits] relationship from a distance. My text charm only goes so far.”

Unsurprisingly, then, some people are still taking their extramarital connections offline, quarantine be damned. Rose tells InsideHook she recently met up with a new partner from Ashley Madison in a park for a clandestine date, though she says they’re “being safe.”

“Virtual relationships are all novelty and fantasy, which is great,” she says. “But at some point you want the real thing with face-to-face interaction.”

Meanwhile, John, now over a month into his coronavirus sex cleanse, has also begun to wade back into the extramarital dating pool, though he insists sex is still off the table. Last week, he told me he had plans to meet up with — and remain six feet apart from — a new woman he’d met online, though he’d traded his usual Fort Lauderdale resorts for a more humble destination.

“Literally a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot,” he told me when I asked where the socially distanced tryst was to go down. “She was so down to meet. She didn’t care where.”

“Former NFL cheerleader,” he added. “How can I pass?”

 

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10 Things He’ll Say If He’s Just Stringing You Along

Stringing someone along means keeping them at arm’s length, romantically, but still keeping them on the hook as a possibility. In other words, it’s to take advantage of them as long as it gives you comfort. Moreover, someone who does this is an expert at giving false hope. Make sure you’re not one of their victims by looking out for these 10 red flags! Here’s what they’ll usually say:

1. “I wish I had met you sooner.”

A guy whose only intention is to use you will fawn on you with words that will send butterflies to your stomach. Moreover, by wishing he had met you sooner, he wants to instill in you the idea that he has wasted relationships with other girls and that you’re actually the one who’s worthy of his time and (*sarcasm intended*) efforts. But don’t fall for this. He’s probably stringing you along.

2. “I haven’t loved anyone this much.”

Let’s admit it. We girls are suckers for you’re-the-best kind of flattery. But don’t be too deceived when a guy tells you he hasn’t loved anyone like he loves you. How many girls has he loved anyway?

3. “I would like it to be just the two of us.”

Oftentimes, we’d like our friends and family to meet the guy we’re dating. Thus, it feels good if he’s game for it. Lucky are the girls whose SOs are willing to meet their parents and friends instead of wanting to remain hidden and aloof. Because a man who truly loves a woman and is committed to her does not distance himself from his partner’s loved ones. Now if he always likes to have a solo time with you then he’s selfish, and obviously, he just wants to satiate his physical desires.

It’s natural that you want to have privacy sometimes; it can also help you build stronger intimacy. But remember that privacy is so different from secrecy, because with secrecy comes ulterior, nasty motives you don’t deserve. Hence, the next time he asks you for a date, ask him if it’s okay to invite your family to meet him. I hope his answer is positive.

4. “It’s up to you.”

When you’re thinking about a vacation, your man must participate in the planning. If he’s not being invested in what you two do together, it may suggest he’s stringing you along.

5. “Home dates are always the best!”

Why yes, a home date is incomparable. It’s simple yet fun and cozy. It makes you appreciate each other more. But hey, he should also have the desire to go out places with you. Moreover, it shouldn’t start feeling like your relationship is hidden from the world.

6. “Let’s not talk about the past.”

If he wants a long-term relationship with you then he must anticipate that there will be a time you’ll be asking each other about your pasts. If he refuses to go down that road at all, he might be hiding something because he doesn’t want to invest in you as a partner.

7. “Let’s take it easy and don’t stress too much on planning.”

Noticed him trembling when you mention the words marriage, family, and even someday? This guy doesn’t plan to stay or doesn’t know what he wants. This guy is just giving you false hope.

8. “Sorry, I can’t make it tonight. I’ll just make it up to you some other time.”

Cancellation of plans is disappointing especially if it comes from your partner. If it has been his habit, he no longer cares about how you feel. Move on.

9. “I need some space.”

Everyone does. But when it comes to a relationship, this sentence indicates coldness between the two parties. Stringing along connoisseurs live by this phrase because it keeps the other person at arm’s length. Give him space — by moving on.

10. “I never promised you anything.”

Once you get a hold of him to ask what happened to your (almost) relationship, or why he acted the way he did, he’ll say this right to your face: he never promised you anything. He’s proving, again, he’s not and never was worthy of you.

If you’re currently dating someone who has said these lines, you should consider getting rid of him ASAP. You’re not a puppet to be strung along, to be manipulated, and used. You are created to be committed to and to be pursued with reckless abandon.

You are meant for a lifetime love.

 

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Why Women Find “Bad Boys” So Attractive, Even Though We Know They’re Trouble

Psychologists break down why they can’t quit the guys that are wrong for them.

Every woman has had a friend who dated a guy who was clearly bad news, but she just couldn’t resist. Maybe, that “friend” was you. And yet, despite all the warnings and red flags, the pull of dating a “bad boy” was just too strong. So, even with all of the signs that heartbreak is on the horizon, why do we still find bad boys so appealing?

It may not be politically correct to admit it, but these brooding, macho men can be compellingly attractive, with their downright seductive swagger. We reached out to experts to find out why this allure is capable of taking over our rational thoughts.

First off, what is a “bad boy,” anyway?

Evolutionary biologists would call “bad boys” hypermasculine, explains Michael R. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor and psychologist at the University of Louisville. “These men ooze testosterone, which leads to boldness and is associated with exaggerated sexuality,” he says. They may also be rebellious or emotionally unavailable, says Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University and author, Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships.

In the most extreme and negative interpretation, bad guys display qualities of the so-called psychological dark triad, according to relationship researcher and coach Marisa T. Cohen, Ph.D., CPLC. Basically, they might be narcissistic (with a sense of entitlement and a grandiose view of themselves), Machiavellian (callous and prone to exploiting others), and psychopathic (displaying antisocial and impulsive behavior). And yet, sometimes we just can’t quit them.

Apparently, they want their sperm — but not necessarily their partnership.

Science, in particular evolutionary biology, partially explains why bad boys can be so compelling. Dr. Fugère says research shows women are more attracted to masculine men during the middle of their menstrual cycle, when they’re most fertile. “Men with very masculine traits may have better quality genes, so it could be attractive to women on an unconscious evolutionary level,” she notes.

That said, when asked what they’re looking for in an ideal partner, women tend to cite nice-guy traits, like honesty, trustworthiness, and respectfulness. “In fact, they usually say they would actively avoid partners who are rude, disrespectful, or physically aggressive,” she adds. “So, on a conscious level, I think most women recognize that bad boys don’t make good long-term partners.”

“Bad boys” free them from the pressure of being “good girls.”

“Girls possess a range of traits, like rebelliousness,” explains Robyn McKay, Ph.D., psychologist and co-author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century. “These traits are typically repressed during childhood, as females are socialized to be compliant and agreeable. If a girl’s inner life is unexpressed, she may be drawn to a bad boy as a way of vicariously expressing her own inner rebel.

Basically, “We’re attracted to qualities in others that we ourselves wish we had,” says sociologist and clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, Ph.D. “A ‘good girl’ may admire the bad boy’s sense of freedom. Despite the fact that this quality makes him an unsuitable partner for the long-term, it can make him so attractive, it’s seemingly worth the potential pain associated.”

Dr. Cunningham adds, “If females don’t feel strong and independent, they might want someone like that in their lives.”

Norhanie Pangulima, a content ambassador at Hernorm, can relate. She had a “sheltered upbringing” and fell for someone adventurous. “There were times I’d lie to my mom to spend time with him, which made me feel a bit bad, yet free,” she says. Similarly, April J. Lisbon, Ed.D., an autism coach strategist, says she felt trapped growing up with a strict parent and went through a phase of dating drug dealers. “Living on the dangerous side of life was appealing for this church girl who was a ‘nerd,’” she reveals. “I wanted to shed my ‘good girl’ image and define my own freedom.”

They’re exciting, different, and “forbidden.”

“Bad boys can be a welcome change from the usual types of partners,” says Dr. Fugère. Especially if women are bored, adds Dr. McKay, these men can seem “exciting and fun” — but dating them can also come with huge drawbacks, like hurt feelings, fights, or even addictions and criminal records.

For instance, hypnotherapist Jennifer Schlueter got involved with a bad boy from another country and culture. “The energy between us was explosive, which resulted in incredible sex and adventures, but also fights,” she shares.

Bad boys can seem taboo, which further adds to their appeal. “When we want something we can’t or shouldn’t have, our desire for it grows exponentially,” adds Dr. Melancon, who fell for a bad boy herself. “He ran his own business producing fetish films in the adult film industry, and I was in graduate school studying human sexuality. Because he was someone I shouldn’t be with, the chemistry was unlike anything I’d experienced prior! I had a number of people in my life question what I was doing with him, which, in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way, only strengthened my attraction.” But we all know how that ended for Romeo and Juliet.

They think they’ll protect them.

Women who feel besieged by threats often fall for tough guys, with their disregard for social norms and willingness to quickly escalate frustration to hostility, threats, and aggression, says psychologist Forrest Talley, Ph.D. “They desire having someone in their life who is tough enough to face the world and punch back when necessary,” he says.

“It’s likely that some women feel more protected by the tough guy and his ease with aggression,” agrees Marni Feuerman, Psy.D., licensed psychotherapist and author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships. Of course, there’s no one to act as a buffer if that aggression gets turned around and comes your way.

Bad boys are projects…

Women are often into fixer-uppers, says Dr. Cunningham, “or interesting projects that use a lot of their skills, charm, and persuasiveness.”

According to psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Seide, M.D., bad boys are not inclined to settle down into monogamy so easily. “If you can convince one to commit, it can feel like quite an accomplishment,” she says. “You think that if you can land one, you must be pretty, funny, and smart enough to have won this prize. Unfortunately, due to societal pressures, women are often on an eternal quest for validation and that elusive feeling of being enough. The pursuit of bad boys is just another example of this.”

Falling for these types of men “happens to the most caring and nurturing people,” Dr. Feuerman says. “They want to see the best in others and have difficulty believing that someone can be truly bad.”

Unfortunately, as Dr. Talley points out, it can be a trap. “Seldom do these men allow someone else’s belief in them to precipitate positive change,” he says. “If they did, that would mean they’d become submissive.”

… and when they try to convert bad boys, they’re repeating old patterns.

Women with rejecting, aloof parents or other close family members might be drawn to bad boys, says psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D., who’s had “countless patients” fall for men who fit this archetype. “We don’t outgrow our wish to convert that person into a loving, accepting person,” she says. “Instead, we unconsciously transfer that wish onto new figures in our lives, hoping to get from this new person what we never got from the original person, as if that will heal the original wound. Unfortunately, it never works because rejecting people don’t suddenly become accepting. We keep playing out the same drama, putting new people in old roles.”

The bottom line: Proceed with caution.

The experts agree that men who don’t want to change in most cases will not. For instance, research shows that males who’ve cheated are more likely to be unfaithful in future relationships as well, says Dr. Fugère.

“The testosterone that makes them bold, adventurous, and rebellious will make them less willing to follow the rules of dating, relationships, and matrimony,” Dr. Cunningham adds. Instead, “they’re into conquests and looking for fresh kills.”

As Jennifer Schlueter found from her own relationship with a bad boy, “I was hoping my love would ‘fix’ him, but he taught me that I can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change for himself.”

‘Converting’ a bad boy is a generally impossible situation, says Dr. Melancon. “If a woman were to succeed in changing him, he would no longer be the bad boy she finds so irresistible,” she says. That said, there are exceptions: Dr. Melancon’s bad boy treated her so well that, “He wasn’t a ‘true’ bad boy so to speak, which is why the relationship led to marriage.”

 

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