What do you think peeps? Follow this lady or the scripture and common sense?
Telegraph- The setting is the quiet corner of an Italian restaurant in the City; the players are George, an IT specialist, and Zoe, who wears a pretty dress and a big smile; they drink an especially good bottle of wine and when they get to coffee he reaches over and kisses her on the mouth. She surprises him by kissing him back. To onlookers it might be the classic opening scene of a traditional romance.Yet both parties are married to other people, whom they have no intention of leaving. Although they will go on to enjoy all the spoils of a relationship, from intimate phone calls to Christmas shopping trips and, of course, regular sex, this is understood from the outset. They are in fact launching into a “playfair”, a 21st-century affair in which would-be adulterers meet, via specialist dating websites, to enjoy the excitement of an illicit relationship without any of the domestic fallout.Alongside the internet dating revolution, these “playfairs” are evidence of a potentially dramatic shift in British marriage. As dating websites open up a global shop window of sexual possibilities, as life expectancy continues to rise and we become increasingly sexually aware, how can we still take the crushing old rules of fidelity, that turn marriage into a prison, for granted? Why should we not be able to recapture the heady thrills of youth, while protecting a secure home life?The time has come, alongside the technology, to redraw the rules of marriage for the 21st century. Just as the Pill opened up premarital sex in the Sixties, the internet is opening up a whole new culture of affairs among married people. Sex has become a major leisure activity of our time, accessible to everyone, married or not, rich and poor. It’s time to start honing our seduction skills and join the playground.Yet it is the most puritanical nations, including Britain and America, that have traditionally resisted the notion of adultery most rigorously. Here, couples endure the challenges of child care, work pressures, mid‑life crisis and dwindling marital sex against a backdrop of repressive Anglo-Saxon hang‑ups about infidelity, seen always in pejorative terms such as “cheating”.
And they do so at a cost. Statistics confirm that British and American divorce rates are among the highest in the world. Around half of American first marriages end in divorce, closely followed by a third of first British marriages, floundering under unrealistic pressures, often celibate marital beds and drastic overreactions to infidelities.
I have always been baffled by the sour and rigid English view of affairs. Marital love and passion only rarely provide an equally rich source of the exalted feelings, transports of delight and misery associated with love and romance. Affairs are about excitement, being alive, seduction, flirtation, love, affection, sexual bliss, lust, caution, eroticism, fantasy, danger, adventure, exploration and the determined refusal to grow old gracefully.
There is also evidence that the more permissive the attitudes of a country, the longer marriages last. In France an affair is dubbed an aventure, free of insinuations of betrayal. It is estimated that a quarter of men and women are enjoying casual flings and affairs at any one time. Indeed, the conventionality of affairs is displayed in the concept of le cinq à sept, the magical space between 5pm and 7pm when men see their mistresses.
In Japan a tradition of geishas has evolved into a modern society where sex is seen as a pleasure to be enjoyed. Japanese pornography is consumed openly, by women as well as men, on the metro and in other public places. Sex is everywhere and it is also clearly separated from marriage.
Meanwhile, Nordic countries are already way ahead of the game. Couples openly discuss “parallel relationships” within marriage. These range from affairs between work colleagues lasting years to holiday flings lasting a few days. Almost half of Finnish men and almost one third of Finnish women have had at least one significant parallel relationship. Yet marriage is a protected and respected institution in these countries, where families can function and flourish without compromise.
And let’s not ignore the past in drawing up a new 21st‑century road map of adultery. If the internet offers a direct line to affairs, with a proliferation of websites for adults seeking a sexual partner outside of their marriage, it is worth remembering that our richer ancestors practised their own privileged version. Emperors cavorted with courtesans, kings chose their wives for political manoeuvres and their mistresses for company, the aristocracy married for money and took lovers for pleasure.
So why have modern British couples resisted for so long and are they finally ready for this new 21st‑century approach to marriage? Inevitably there is the morality question. Even as religion has lost its influence, Britain has remained coy about openly embracing sex for pleasure, stubbornly conflating sexuality with procreation.
There is also the army of therapists and counsellors who continue to pedal their own secret agenda of enforced exclusive monogamy. This killjoy attitude frames affairs as deviant escapism and fantasies without merit for people who have failed to grow up. Counsellors form a kind of emotional and intellectual police intent on keeping the door to infidelity locked.
Meanwhile, British feminists have already missed the chance to find a new kind of modern sexual morality appropriate to the 21st century. In practice, Anglo-Saxon feminism never liberated itself from the Puritan morality that downplays or rejects all forms of pleasure as sinful.
But sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal. The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues. Anyone rejecting a fresh approach to marriage and adultery, with a new set of rules to go with it, fails to recognise the benefits of a revitalised sex life outside the home.
Already two American economists, David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, have attempted to measure happiness through sexual fulfilment in monetary terms. They estimated that increasing the frequency of sexual intercourse from once a month to at least once a week was equivalent to £32,000 a year in happiness. They also estimated that a lasting marriage provided the equivalent of £64,000 a year. If you add the two together, an affair providing lots of sex and an enduring marriage, that’s a recipe for a lot of happiness.
It is also a handsome sum when you consider how much longer people are living. In pre-industrial Britain marriages only lasted about 20 years, due to early death. Today, marriages can last 40 to 60 years. It is no coincidence that the peak ages for affairs in Britain and the United State is 45 for a woman and 55 for a man.
Of course, it would be misleading to suggest that married dating does not have a certain morality of its own. Just as there are rules for dating non-married people, a new set of rules is necessary to navigate the way through the secretive world of married dating on the internet.
For many interviewees that I spoke to, whose names have been changed, negotiating the new rules can be a fraught business. Married people have less spare time and are often more specific and cautious in their search. Amy liked a man in his advert, but was put off by his wearing a shabby grey cardigan under his suit jacket; Kate was delighted on meeting Benjamin, elegant, clever and amusing, until it emerged he was into very experimental sex; when Oliver met Scarlett at her house for a first date, a swinging party was already under way, which was not what he had in mind.
But regardless of who you meet, the first rule is “never in your own back yard”, where you are most exposed to discovery. This is one of the successes of the websites: they allow everyone to reach well beyond their own social circle. Both parties can quickly establish that they want the same thing and that they are equally committed to secrecy and discretion.
It is also a world away from the deeply unfair old-style “asymmetric” affairs, in which hapless wives would be left at home while older, richer husbands wooed younger, poorer women – often in the workplace – disparagingly referred to as a “bit on the side”.
If anything, married women are at an astonishing advantage in this 21st-century world of modern adultery, not least because of the disparity in sexual desire in modern marriages. Recent sex surveys all prove that the received wisdom about men wanting more sex than their wives is not an unfair stereotype but a fact. The gap in sexual desire between men and women is observed in every country and culture where such surveys have been carried out.
Unsurprisingly a sexless, or low-sex, marriage, in which couples have sex less than once a month, appears to be the most common root cause for married internet affairs. In Britain, according to the British sex survey of sexual lifestyles, couples aged up to 60 had sex around 10 times a month in the first two years of their relationship, with a sharp decline to an average of twice a month after six years together.
This puts women, entering the new online “meet-market” of married dating sites, in a dramatically stronger position. While dating websites for singles are dominated by women looking for “the one”, those for married people are dominated by men looking for a sexual adventure. The ratio is around one woman to every 13 men, giving the women the power to dictate terms, from dates at the most expensive restaurants and luxury gifts to financial rewards.
Take the case of Peter, a rich 62-year-old judge who lives in a beautiful historical country house with his lively wife. He regularly travelled into central London to sit as a judge in important commercial disputes. He also stayed in the same hotel, with views over the Thames. After several years of this routine he began to welcome the idea of a sexy girlfriend to entertain him during his weekday stays. He signed on to a dating website.
When he met his first date, Maya – beautiful and in her thirties – he could not believe his luck. They had a cheerful and flirty lunch, sitting in the sunshine. At the end, they discussed meeting again. Maya suggested a monthly fee for unlimited time with him at his convenience. Peter laughed, assuming she was joking. He considered an expensive dinner generous enough.
But as he worked his way through a similar series of first dates, that were also not followed up, he realised that Maya was right: a crucial rule in this modern world of adultery is that the women are able to call the shots, especially when the men are past their prime.
There are, however, as many success stories. Claire had been happily married all her life to a much older man. When the marriage became sexless she started a sexually rewarding affair with a younger man that lasted eight years. When her husband died, she remarried another kind, loyal and considerate man. But she sought out an affair again, on a dating website for married people, because she wanted the excitement of a lover who would always be a novelty. Already, for Claire and others like her, the new adultery is a way of life.
Crucially the globalisation of sexual cultures facilitated by the internet, where it is said sex in one shape or another constitutes half the traffic, has helped to bring far more varied and adventurous practices into closer view. As a result, we can no longer assume that our own perspective is the only one going, and that it is inevitable and “natural”.
On the contrary, the emphasis on sex as a leisure activity in consumer society allows people in celibate marriages to see their situation as something that can and should be remedied, instead of something to put up with. Websites make it easy and provide mass access to finding your own mistress or lover. Something that used to be a luxury of kings and millionaires is now open to all. Many get lucky, some go away empty-handed, but either way British marriage is finally taking a walk on the wild side.
Read more at telegraph.co.uk