London - The recession in Britain is fuelling the rapid growth of cheating websites, as thousands of unhappy spouses say they are unable to afford separation.

Since the UK’s economic situation hit new lows in April, there has been an influx of married couples seeking extra-marital affairs via the internet.

Experts believe that divorce, which costs around £13 000 (R167 000), is behind the shift towards widespread infidelity.

Leading married dating site claims that since the economy worsened it has welcomed 27 000 new members – a 200 percent increase on the previous year.

Many stated on their application that they were joining because they were unable to get out of unhappy relationships due to their financial situation.

Consultant Rosie Freeman-Jones said: “Many couples are now finding themselves trapped in unhappy marriages because they simply cannot afford to divorce.”

And while the legal fees might pose a problem, the stagnant housing market and emergence of family debt – up 58 percent in an average household – have also had an effect.

She added: “It’s the fact that they can’t sell their houses since the market is so stagnant. Worse, some are in a position of negative equity.

“A surprisingly high number of people who have recently joined have said that they count their marriages as over already and would have already got a divorce by now if they could only afford it.

“Having an affair is treated almost as a practical, rather than a romantic, decision.”

The pursuit of sexual excitement, boredom with marriage and the need for an ego boost were other reasons men gave for cheating, a previous survey found. Meanwhile, women were more likely to be seeking emotional fulfilment, an improvement to their self-esteem and lasting romance.

Female adulterers are also far more prone to falling in love with their affair partner than their male equivalents. – Daily Mail