Everything else we do has shifted online — why not infidelity?
Since the inception of chat rooms, the internet has long served as a fertile ground for cheaters. Last year, a YouGov poll found that some 17% of users across all dating apps were there to cheat on their current partners.
Now, it’s only getting worse. Couples who haven’t already called it quits may be sabotaging their relationships anyway, according to University of Tennessee-Knoxville psychologists Kristina Coop Gordon and Erica A. Mitchell, whose co-authored editorial, “Infidelity in the Time of COVID‐19,” was published in the journal Family Process earlier this month.
Approximately 25% of all marriages experience infidelity, according to their paper, but now more than ever before, couples are engaging in extramarital affairs through dating apps, where they can browse for hookups safely and subtly, they found.
“Individuals who are dissatisfied in their current relationship are more likely to explore alternative options and the increased stress from the pandemic may be contributing to more negative perceptions for individuals of both their partner and their relationship,” they wrote.
The findings are backed up by infidelity website AshleyMadison.com, which reported an uptick in new accounts created at an average rate of 17,000 per day since COVID-19 descended on the US. That’s compared to a daily new user rate of 15,500 during the same time period last year.
The trend in pandemic philandering has even yielded some hyperspecific custom porn requests from cam girls, such as Allie Eve Knox.
“Personalized porn is really on the rise,” she recently told The Post. “People have been through PornHub for two months now. They’re running out of content and now they want people to talk to them, ask them how their day was and talk to them specifically. My wallet says that, too.”
The authors also cited data from the Kinsey Institute, which found that about 13% of people currently in a relationship have reached out to an ex-lover during the pandemic.
“Research has consistently found increases in stress to be associated with decreases in both sexual and relationship satisfaction,” they wrote.
Where in the best of times, some couples may work things out, Gordon and Mitchell also warned that breakups and divorce may be more likely to occur as a result of the extraordinary psychological toll of the pandemic.
The fact that couples can’t escape each other doesn’t help diffuse the situation, either, and marriage counselors can be difficult to access due to financial setbacks or social distancing measures.
“The pandemic has limited couples’ access to resources and social support, which may make it more difficult for them to cope with this significant stressor,” they said. “Further, the practices supported by research and recommended for couples during affair recovery may be more difficult to achieve during this time of social isolation.”
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