Despite spending a huge chunk of the year at home due to strict lockdown measures, Australians have still found their own ways to cheat on their partners.
New data from extramarital dating platform, Ashley Madison, finds Australians are still big on infidelity in 2020, and in fact, have ranked in the top five countries for cheating since the beginning of the year.
Ranking just underneath countries like Brazil, the US and Canada (respectively), Australia clocked in at fourth place, reporting more than 800,000 new sign-ups to the site since New Year’s Day, with an average of 300 new affair-seekers joining the platform daily.
According to their data, sign-ups skyrocketed during the earlier months of lockdown, while during the month of August alone, almost 9,000 new affairs were started by Australian Ashley Madison users.
The events of 2020 have presented a unique set of challenges for couples, particularly those that live together. Being in such close proximity to their partners with no real opportunity for alone time meant a large number of relationships experienced strain, which in some cases, lead to separation.
“Reports of increased divorce filings, as a result of government-mandated lockdowns, began in March 2020. Shortly after the lockdowns began, Ashley Madison, the world’s leading married dating site, began to see an uptick in signups, signifying a heightened interest in extramarital affairs,” Ashley Madison explains in its newly released Love Beyond Lockdown report.
“The vast majority of Ashley Madison members, who were surveyed, have said that having affairs keeps them married.”
Tammy Nelson, sex therapist, author, and podcast host, says extramarital dating sites don’t instantly equate to “cheating”. In some cases, platforms like Ashley Madison can help couples maintain a strong bond, and that the process of finding a lover-on-the-side may be a shared experience.
“In my therapy practice, I see many marriages that have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ agreement, where they might actually know about their partner’s account and activities but for whatever reason, they don’t confront the issue or their partner,” Nelson tells The Latch.
“For some couples, having an ‘open monogamy’ agreement means that they have a primary or central relationship and a flexible and fluid commitment, where they can have outside relationships or sexual partners with people they meet on places like Ashley Madison.
“Ashley Madison may play a part in their choices because together they can vet their lovers, agreeing on each other’s dates. They can also help encourage the partner who might be more reticent by helping them ‘shop’ for partners online.”
According to Nelson, platforms like Ashley Madison can be helpful for couples that seek extra affection outside of their primary arrangement. She says that by connecting with likeminded daters, couples can remove common cheating complications.
“The site seems to bypass the moral dilemma of whether or not it’s okay to cheat and skips right to how to make it happen. This can make it comforting for anyone looking for an affair, knowing that all members have a similar expectation.”