Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Are humans hardwired to cheat?

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A successful affair has two components: meeting someone to engage in the act with, and not getting caught. This wisdom comes care of Ashley Madison website founder, Noel Biderman.

The American entrepreneur created the website a decade ago after discovering a quarter of online daters weren't actually single. So he built an online community where people could sign-up for extra-marital affairs.

The site has members from over 18 countries, speaking seven different languages - including 54,000 in New Zealand. This figure has doubled in the last year - making NZ one of the fastest growing countries for infidelity.

"We're actually appealing to biology," Biderman said.

"Affairs - they happen - no matter what gender you look at, or socio-economic group you study or ethnic group.

"Even in countries today, where adultery is punishable by death - there are still documented cases of it and that's because it's a biological drive."

The website released data this week revealing that Christchurch had the highest number of cheaters in the country, per capita. It also found unfaithful folk were more likely to be National voters, meat eating, smokers with tattoos. The highest number of women seeking affairs hailed from Auckland - the city hosted 36 per cent of female members.

"The data you see in New Zealand is just the fact that there's an awakening going on," Biderman said.

"You have for the first time in modern history, the opportunity for women to behave more like men."

And the fact that more cheaters are inked up and puffing on cigarettes? "What it comes down to, is it's a personality type. People who go and get tattoos are risk takers - I think that's how I would look at it."

Biderman said the first rise in infidelity came when women entered the workplace, "because they now have a new pool of people to meet with". The second surge came with the online boom which allowed people to meet and greet, masked by the anonymity of the internet. But these are the two worst places to pursue sexual liaisons outside your relationship, he warned.

"The workplace, where everybody knows your business, where you could risk losing your job - that's where the majority of affairs happen."

He said the number of people cheating on their partner might not increase, but the desire to find a secure environment to engage in the act will rise.

"What people will start doing more and more is using a service that caters to the discretionary element," he said.

Despite the website being aimed at women, with its lady-like colour scheme and feminine name - they've always had more men on board. But there appears to be a generational shift.

There are 10,000 men in the over-70s age bracket, and no women at all. In the 50-plus category, men outweigh women 5:1. But in those who are in their 30s, that ratio becomes even.

"This generation that for a large part are a product of divorce themselves, they've seen marriages become more unsuccessful," Biderman said.

"They're approaching marriage differently, they're more sceptical of it and they're more prone to cheat.

"The longer you're with your partner then you start being attracted to others.

"There's no way to promote infidelity. Even in a one-to-one conversation I wouldn't be able to convince you to have an affair.

"What I can do, is if people have decided they want to have an affair, not to have it in a destructive environment."

Biderman said he's in a happy, monogamous relationship.

But admits: "If I woke up one morning in a celibate marriage - I'm not a priest, I didn't sign up for that - long before I would divorce ... I would definitely pursue an affair personally, before I would leave."

- HERALD ONLINE

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