Experts have slammed the creators of cheaters website AshleyMadison.com as irresponsible and unethical.
Clinical sexologist Dr Marlene Wasserman, aka Dr Eve, says Noel Biderman is “capitalising on people’s vulnerabilities”.
“[The website] is irresponsible, unnecessary and unethical,” she says.
“People have difficulty sustaining long-term relationships, especially the sexual interest. Cheating is a temptation for everyone. No one needs help to cheat. However, creating such a website gives people permission to go ahead and just do it.
“Once someone sees they are not the only one cheating or having an interest in cheating, it makes it that much easier to sign up, pay up and do it.
“In South Africa it is even more damaging to promote multiple partners as it increases infection rates.”
Biderman defended his website by saying: “No one could contest that infidelity has been around since the beginning of time. The methods have just evolved. We are merely servicing this gap.”
South Africa has one of the highest divorce rates in the world – one in every two marriages ends up in the courts. .
Daleen van Staden, the head of clinical services at Families South Africa (Famsa) says a website like AshleyMadison.com is not the answer to marital stress.
“This is why it is important that couples don’t take their relationships for granted by creating a climate where an affair can germinate, but work on maintaining a satisfied relationship,” she says.
“So if men’s reasons for cheating are related to sex and women’s are related to being admired and wooed again, these are two aspects that they must actively give attention to.”
She says Famsa has found there is no place for a third party in marriage.
“The practices of ‘polyamorous’ relationships and ‘swinging’ try to address the issue of secrecy for those couples who don’t believe in monogamous relationships.
“At Famsa we have, however, found that inevitably one spouse is not happy with multiple partners and that is why they then come for relationship counselling.”
Dr Wasserman also refuted Biderman’s claims that having an affair has a positive influence on your relationship.
“In many cases, people claim it does because it forces them to have conversations they choose to avoid, it forces them to re-look and re-negotiate their relationship – if they get caught.
“People who never get caught or never disclose may find that it boosts their self-esteem, enables them to stay in a sexless/loveless marriage, often ‘for the sake of the kids’.
“However, the damage more often far outweighs the positives once discovered. It may take a couple forever or never to recover from this trauma. There are many seen and unseen consequences to cheating – infections and children born out of affairs are visible scars.
“But the internal guilt and pain can be as damaging to the individual – the cheating confuses an already confusing thing called relationship.”
Dr Van Staden agrees and says the effects of an affair are far-reaching.
“The betrayed partner experiences anger, devastation, guilt [am I not good enough?], a sense of failure at relationship skills and major trust issues,” she says.
“Children don’t feel secure if they become aware that their parents are not committed to each other.”
She says if a couple decides to stay together after an affair, they will have to work hard at re-establishing a connection.
“They need to go through a process of mourning the loss of an idealised relationship and re-commit to being faithful to each other,” she says.
“They need to be mature about the fact that temptation will always be there, but that they will commit to actively work on their relationship where they will not give in to those temptations.
“To keep the romance alive, it is also suggested that the couple go on regular dates.”
In the case of a divorce, children might feel depressed, angry and irritable and act out.
“They need to be reassured that they did not contribute to the breakdown of the marriage and that both parents will continue to love and care for them,” Dr Van Staden adds. - Daily Voice