With collective stress levels at an all-time high, is it true that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an increase in cyber affairs aka online affairs? Statistics from the American Psychological Association estimate that around 20% to 40% of couples deal with infidelity in the course of their relationship.
Lockdowns Are Recipe for Affairs?
With most people cooped up at home, it is easy to assume that affairs will be at an all-time low. However, despite not being allowed to be within 6 feet of another person who isn’t from your household, it looks like the famous website for instigating affairs, Ashley Madison, is seeing a huge increase in new sign-ups. New sign-ups typically average at about 15,500 new sign-ups per day prior to the pandemic, but current sign-ups are averaging at 17,000 new accounts a day. A recent Ashley Madison survey shared that 30% of its female users are currently exploring cybersex with their affair partners.
The shift to online affairs is backed by previous polls, with female members citing sexless marriages as their primary reason for wanting an affair. Ashley Madison chief strategy officer Paul Keable says that the current nationwide self-isolation is what is driving the further increase in virtual affairs in order to augment what people are missing physically.
Married People Are Swarming Dating Apps
Anecdotal reports say that those who use regular dating apps are seeing an increase in still-married members. Bumble reported an 84% increase in in-app video chats and voice calls while OkCupid reported a 10% increase in new matches worldwide between March 9 and March 23, 2020 alone. Most of the new heavy app users claim to be non-monogamous.
Ashley Madison seems to corroborate that more non-single people are using online methods to try to cope with the stress of the pandemic, sharing that their members told them they are using the site to release some pressure from being at home.
Why is There an Increase in Affairs?
It seems that some people are struggling with coping with wanting to feel desired, especially that most are cooped up at home with limited outside interaction. Sex therapist and book author Tammy Nelson, PhD, says that it could be that a lot of people want to feel more alive in the face of fear of dying.
Is It Truly Cheating?
Some of those who are engaging in meeting romantic connections online while still in a relationship seems to disagree that they are cheating. An online couple, Rob and Jessica, shares that Jessica is quarantining alone while Rob has a current girlfriend who is an essential health worker. Jessica says they talk often and has had cybersex twice; acts that she counts as cheating and having an emotional affair because Rob has a girlfriend. Rob disagrees and says that it is simply a way for him to have companionship. He further shared that he feels as though he is starving and that he’s only trying to compensate by having a cyber affair with Jessica. Jessica doesn’t see them communicating further after the pandemic. Stating that she feels used and she wants something serious.
Dr. Nelson stated that cyber affairs may help people find balance in their lives at present time, adding that the increasing trend may continue well after the pandemic even for couples who still love each other.
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