Operators of extra-marital affairs dating site AshleyMadison.com say they were at first confused by the sudden leap in new members signing up from across Scotland. In particular, they were stunned to see a 40 per cent jump in interest from Edinburgh last year.
Now, however, they believe the surge in new members desperate for a naughty fling was driven by a combination of referendum fatigue and marital disputes caused by the Yes-No vote.
“The Scots were definitely more active last year,” said the website’s European spokesman Christophe Kraemer.
“UK-wide our membership grew by 33.1 per cent, but in Edinburgh it jumped by 40.2 per cent. Usually when there’s a jump like that, economic factors have played a role, but that’s not the case here so we think the only explanation can be the referendum.” Nearly 14,000 people from the Edinburgh area alone have apparently logged their personal details with the website in the hope of finding a stranger so they can have a fling behind their partner’s back. The international website has 31m members across the world and connects 1.1m people in the UK who are seeking secret thrills outside of marriage. The EH area accounts for more than 12 per cent of the dating site’s entire UK-wide membership and a fifth of Scottish members.
The startling figures are echoed by those of rival extra-marital affairs website Illicit Encounters (www.illicitencounters.com) which has more than 60,000 Scots seeking romance outside of marriage on their books. Last year it named Livingston as it’s Scottish capital for an extra-marital fling.
According to the site’s spokesman, Simon Procter, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of unhappy wives and husbands in the Edinburgh area signing up since the start of the year.
“Edinburgh sign-ups for January are equal to October, November and December 2014 put together,” he said. “A new year is a time to make changes. It’s cold and grey in January and a bit miserable, and people in an unhappy relationship start to think they’re just not going to stick it any more. Sometimes people sign up because they see it as a stepping stone to making a full break with someone. It’s different for everyone.”
Ann Chiltern, head of counselling with Relationships Scotland (www.relationships-scotland.org.uk) based at York Place, said she wasn’t surprised by the number of people signing up to the extra-marital affairs sites but had a warning.
“People can see these sites as exciting and no-risk. But if their partner finds out, there are all sorts of problems – their sense of betrayal in particular. There is the risk of sexually transmitted infections, even blackmail. I’d suggest people think carefully before they sign up.”
It saved my marriage
RACHEL, 44, from Edinburgh signed up with extra-marital affairs site Illicit Encounters in the hope of a fling with a married man.
“Without this site my marriage would be over, my husband has a medical problem which he refuses to have treatment for. The result is he has no sex drive at all. He tried in the beginning but when we had completed our family he decided that was it. I dearly love my husband and didn’t want to leave my marriage and destroy my children for the sake of sex but it really started to get to me.
“I was frustrated. I’m still a youngish woman, it was making me irritable and angry with my husband, on the brink of divorce. I came across this site and found what I needed, no commitment, no love, no mess and
no-one else knows.
“It literally saved my sanity and my marriage.”