Cheating has gone into overdrive after slowing at the start of the pandemic, according to infidelity dating app Ashley Madison
- Ashley Madison, a dating site made to help people cheat, released its "Love Beyond Lockdown" report on Tuesday.
- The report found the pandemic has given people more reason to cheat, fueled by lockdown frustration with their spouse, a lack of intimacy, and more.
- According to the report, most cheating has gone virtual but some are still meeting up with new affair partners in person.
- The increase in infidelity among its members comes after an initial 10% dip in membership signups at the beginning of the US's lockdown in mid-March.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Between early March and early April this year, Ashley Madison, a dating site for people to have affairs, saw a 10% dip in membership.
It coincided with COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, lockdowns across the US, widespread anxiety, and a sudden shift in the way we lived. It put the classic setting for an affair — an in-person rendez-vous — out of the question.
However, according to a new report conducted by the platform, "Love Beyond Lockdown," people have become increasingly creative, and demand for extra-marital affairs has been climbing.
The report, released Tuesday, found the dip in sign-ups appears to only have been a momentary blip. People are back to cheating as normal, they're just changing their excuses.
A majority of all users said their spouses didn't want to have sex during lockdown
The report draws its findings from six questionnaires, surveying a total of 12,000 users, equally split between new and existing users.
53% of them said they had never spent so much time around their spouse as they were forced to when shelter-in-place orders were brought in in March.
The lack of private time, time outside the home, and inability to see friends has caused tension in many marriages, driving them to Ashley Madison, to seek out extra-marital affairs.
60% of users surveyed (all of whom are married or have a significant other) said their partner didn't initiate sex once from mid-March until early September, which 25% of all users surveyed found to be the most distressing part of the pandemic. It was for that reason that 76% of all users decided to actively to give up on their "dead bedroom" and seek romantic fulfillment elsewhere.
"When sex is so important yet so unattainable within a marriage, individuals will inevitably find a workaround – be it alone or with someone other than their spouse," the report read.
The pandemic hasn't stopped people from cheating, and 74% of users said they will be continuing to have in-person affairs after the pandemic.
People have moved their cheating online, swapping excuses like business trips for 'I'm busy doing work'
Prior to the pandemic, people were able to maintain their affairs by taking business trips, using nights out with friends as a cover, or just being out and about.
With the pandemic making casual travel and even nights out next to impossible, people have gotten creative with their excuses.
Like singles trying to use dating apps to meet new people and vetting potential dates for their safety practices on Zoom, married daters have taken their affairs online. About 40% of users blame working for their extramarital computer time.
For those trying to meet affair partners in person, their excuses have changed to fit our pandemic-warped world, with 25% blaming leaving their house for meetups on walks, bike rides, and trips to the store.
While many have taken their affairs safely online, those meeting in person now have stricter guidelines. For those who are physically intimate, 55% say they plan on limiting themselves to one affair partner for the duration of the pandemic.
Ashley Madison expects cheating to rise as coronavirus lockdowns tighten
Paul Keable, chief strategy officer of Ashley Madison, told Insider that, during the spike in divorce rates across the country at the height of lockdown, members were not discussing divorce. Most of the users they surveyed, Keable said, had no plans to leave their partners or spouses, but were keen to see other people.
That, Keable says, is valuable information for couples heading into the winter, as rates of COVID-19 are expected to rise and lockdown measures will likely be tightened.
The report suggests all the aspects of tight lockdown measures — stress, lower sex drive, more time indoors — created a fertile ground for cheating. It's likely the same will be true this winter.
"While the data we've gathered and laid out in this report is telling of infidelity's role in high-stress environments, it's also indicative of what married individuals or married couples should keep in mind with a second wave just around the corner in many countries," Keable said.
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