I watched the concluding part of Dawn O Porter's Channel 4 documentary'How to find love online' knowing that IllicitEncounters.com was due to be featured, I was keen to see how the subject of extra marital affairs would be received. Clearly, having an affair is essentially wrong as it involves lying, cheating, and the constant possibility of the hurting the ones you love. But the harsh reality is: it's not going anywhere.
Within minutes of a member being featured on the show, the websites servers were overloaded with a record number of hits to the site. While bitter comments were being made on Twitter, specifically about businesses who are facilitating affairs, the public however were logging on in their thousands to find someone: Who's in the wrong?
Nobody is going to make you have an affair if you don't want to. Not a website, a friend, an advert, these are all excuses; cheating is a mindset, a choice by you alone. I'm not talking about a drunken mistake or a one-night stand: the surges of people signing up were married people looking for something they consciously want to do.
Affairs have existed since the beginning of time; this will not change, it is simply a fact of our history as humans. Having a website where married people can find other married people should be surprisingly un-shocking by now. Are we still shocked by celebrities taking drugs, politicians lying (shock-horror!)? Finding out our food may have horse in it? Surely the least shocking is - people having affairs?
Illicit Encounters does nothing to encourage having an affair, in fact, I would warn against it. It's a service for people who have made the decision it is not there to convert you to a world of adultery. There is no sense of'Go for it! Anywhere on the site, the whole approach is very hands off allowing members take their destiny into their own hands. However despite not necessarily supporting the cause, there is no denying, as a business, it's thriving.
The lady featured in the show summed up most of our members perfectly. She is not some she-devil after your husband at the Christmas party, she is looking for someone who is also looking for something extra outside of their marriage, for whatever reason, and they can find each other safely online. Most of our female members have no wish to end their marriage, but they are no longer in a physical relationship a lot of time as their husbands have lost interest, or they no longer have the romance of 30 years ago, so by meeting someone fresh, they feel sexy again, wanted and confident, without anyone getting hurt - Who are we to judge?
One could argue that the country club, Christmas party, or the work place are equally to blame for affairs as these are the most traditional breeding grounds, but the fact that members pay to be part of the adultery community shows that cheating is evolving and finding new ways to satisfy. With 800,000 active members all married, separated or widowed, this surely is the online country club with the same aim. That maybe shocking but the business is not, it has gone on since the dawn of time and the only difference is now, it is just a click away.