Lockdown love rats: British affairs dating website is booming as relationships break down during pandemic

By Izzie Deibe
June 16 2020, 10.15

While some of us have been stuck at home bonding over board games and Tiger King with our other halves, others have been using their free time to spark up an affair online.

The UK’s leading affairs dating site has been used by more than one million Brits since it started 16 years ago.

The site has seen a surge in new users since lockdown started with activity doubling since this time last year.

A new survey of 2,000 members found that more than 30% are breaking government guidelines to entertain their ‘mistress’ or ‘histress’ during lockdown, echoing the behaviour of Government advisor Neil Ferguson and MP Rosie Duffield.

But who else is having affairs, why are they having them, and how are they getting away with it? SWL spoke to cheats and a relationship expert to find out more.

Results are based on a survey of 2000 Illicit Encounters members

A further 10 percent of members have broken the rules to start new affairs, including 31-year-old barmaid Simone from Wandsworth.

Simone signed up to Illicit Encounters two years ago when her marriage started to break down, and has since had a string of affairs with “richer, older men” after getting divorced.

The barmaid’s extramarital dating life should have ground to a halt when lockdown was announced, but then she came across Paul’s profile.

Paul is a married man who lives near Simone’s home in Wandsworth, and the pair couldn’t resist breaking the rules to have a raunchy one night stand.

Simone said: “I had tried to stick to the rules during the early days of lockdown but there are virtually no new infections in Wandsworth and everyone is starting to relax a little. 

“Lots of people gather on Wandsworth Common for boozy parties when the weather is warm. 

“Paul suggested we both bring a bottle of wine and have a date on the Common, which was within the social distancing rules.

“We drank both bottles of wine, got on like a house on fire and thought it would be a great idea to go back to my flat nearby for sex.

“It was the first time I had done it in two months and it was really exciting.

“I guess there was a little extra buzz over the fact that we were doing something naughty and breaking the rules. We had sex three times in quick succession. 

“We were exhausted by the time we were finished and Paul went home and told his wife that he was having a boozy night out with his mates.”

BREAKING THE RULES: Some are using exercise as an excuse to cheat during lockdown

Simone said she has no regrets about breaking the rules, but she doesn’t intend to see Paul again. The pair enjoy sleeping with someone new and moving on. 

She said: “I might end up calling him for a booty call later on but I have no plans to see him again at present.

“I only follow one rule when I am dating: if I want to f*** the guy, I do.”

Many Brits seem to be following in Simone’s footsteps, with UK divorce enquiries jumping up by 42%.

If you can’t get divorced at the moment, an affair might be a tempting alternative. sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni said: “It’s clear that affair seekers are searching for connection right now more than ever, I believe this is due to couples feeling trapped at home with their partners and frustration of married life is amplified.

“Many of our members report feeling lonely and unappreciated, and they are desperate to speak to like-minded people that are in the same boat.

“Cheats are crawling up the walls with frustration while stuck at home. They are bickering with their partners and seeking fresh relationships elsewhere.

“We are seeing an explosion of Skype and FaceTime affairs with cheats having video sex sessions with new partners on their phones, laptops and home computers.

“The crisis is a huge wake-up call for anyone in an unhappy relationship – it is exposing all the deep fault-lines in failing relationships and making people realise that they need to start afresh when the lockdown ends.”

More than 70% of the site’s male members seeking affairs during lockdown say they do so out of boredom.

For the 60% of the site’s female members initiating affairs during lockdown, lockdown had exposed the flaws of their main relationships and made them want to find someone new.

So how are cheats getting away with affairs while cooped up at home with their spouse?

Since exercise is the trend during lockdown, it makes sense for those having affairs to use a form of exercise as their alibi.

A staggering 78% of men and 54 percent of women on Illicit Encounters admitted to using exercise as a cover-up for cheating.

That’s exactly what site member Dave is using as his cover up. He explained: “It isn’t that unusual for me to be doing outdoor sports.

“I’ve always been a keen runner and an avid cyclist, leaving the house for a few hours a day sporting lycra is very ordinary, so exercise for me is the perfect excuse to cheat.”

Monika, another member added: “Oh come on, we’re all adults here. Seeing your lover during lockdown is no different to meeting up with a friend and socially distancing.

“I take my border collie for a walk and meet my other man in the park, so sue me.

“The weather has been so nice recently, I’ve just been telling my hubby I’m out sunbathing, the tan lines make it easy to prove.”

The site’s relationship expert predicts there will be a huge rise in the number of physical affairs when lockdown ends.

Ms Leoni said: “There is going to be the biggest explosion of sex. It will be like the Baby Boom after the Second World War all over again.”

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