Lancashire is rife with middle-aged ‘cheaters’ who are having illicit, clandestine relationships, shocking figures revealed today.
A staggering 9,051 people living in and around the city of Preston who are married or in a long-term relationship are registered on an extramarital dating website.
Today, the Lancashire Evening Post launches Lancashire’s Love Cheats, a week-long series looking at different aspects of infidelity and its consequences on victims. The investigation will reveal the stories of serial mistresses, swingers and sex addicts, as well as the tales of those who had their lives thrown into turmoil after their partners betrayed them.
Is there such a thing as ‘honest’ infidelity?
“We did not invent infidelity. It has always been there.”
These are the words of Mike Taylor from Illicit Encounters, the UK’s largest married dating website which puts people in contact with others looking for affairs.
In the Preston area, 9,051 people are members of the website, but bosses at Illicit Encounters are defending their existence and say they are not encouraging people to have affairs.
Mr Taylor explains: “There are a large amount of people in Preston who are cheating on their partners or thinking about being unfaithful to them.
“Our website does not encourage people to have affairs - they have already decided that’s what they want to do.
“We are there to fill a need for those who want an affair in a sensible manner.
“When dating sites came about around 15 years or so ago, studies revealed around 15 to 20 per cent of people were lying about their marital status by saying they were single when they were in fact in a relationship or married.
“It meant that single people going on these sites were dating married people without realising it.
“This was leading to the worst possible outcomes such as people being asked to leave their husband or wife. Or the relationship started on the dating website would come to an abrupt end.
“We realised there was a need for people looking for affairs who didn’t want to lie about it.
“In a bizarre kind of way, we are an ‘honest’ infidelity site.
“Everyone knows everyone else on the site is looking for an affair and everything is open and honest.”
Illicit Encounters has 24,873 members in Lancashire - 9,051 of who live in Preston and surrounding areas.
Around 60 per cent of those registered on the adulterous website from Preston are men and 40 per cent are women.
The average age of Preston women registered on the site
is 47 while the average man is 51.
Illicit Encounters started at the end of 2003 - at virtually the same time as Facebook.
It now has more than 900,000 users across the UK and works like a normal dating website where people sign up and look for people looking for the same things as them.
Mr Taylor says: “Everyone is looking for the same thing - an affair, They are not after breaking up marriages.
“Some people are looking for someone to talk to or companionship while others want a full blown sexual relationship.
“The interesting thing is that some people who sign up to our website are just happy to send flirty messages to other people and not take it any further.
“It makes them feel wanted and desired again and they realise there are people out there who still find them funny and attractive.
“That is enough for some people to carry on with their lives.”
He says he has seen every possible reason why people are looking to cheat on their current partner.
“The most common reason is when people’s current relationships have broken down, but they do not want to split up from their partner.
“I hear the term ‘brother -sister relationship’ a lot. These people still love their partner but are no longer attracted to them in a romantic sense.
“Another one I hear a lot, especially since the economic downturn, is people who can’t afford to break up.
“It may be negative equity in their house or not having the financial means or not wanting to go through an expensive divorce.
“Then there are couples who have nothing left in common but decide to stay together for the children.
“There are also the heart wrenching stories where people have illnesses so are no longer able to fulfil the needs of their partner.
“In many of these cases, the partner actively gives them permission to go on our site and seek an affair.
“There are also people who want an affair simply for the excitement.
“There is something forbidden and exciting about having an affair.”
He reveals that for the first seven or eight years of Illicit Encounters, it was mostly men looking for affairs.
But now there is a 60/40 split of men and women on the site and in the last few years, more women have been accessing the site.
“It is almost more acceptable for people to have affairs nowadays. It is not seen as shocking any more.
“We have seen the rise of the adultress - the Alpha Female.
“These are women who know what they want and are not afraid to go and get it.
“They are not content with being on their own or miserable and there has been a revolution leading to many high profile female affairs.”
He says Illicit Encounters is for people who want an affair in a sensible environment with like minded people.
“People come to our website because it is discreet. Having an affair elsewhere is an unknown quantity.
“Having an affair with someone at work never has a good outcome. And if you have an affair with someone you meet down the pub, you don’t know their situation, motivation or reaction.
“People on our site know no one is ever going to say: ‘If you don’t leave your wife, I’ll tell her’ because they are in the same situation and have just as much to lose.”
The company has a lot of members in Preston and the city is also a good base for people from surrounding areas to conduct affairs.
He says: “The people in Preston having affairs are not necessarily having them with other people from Preston.
“Preston is surrounded by big cities like Manchester and Liverpool so is a good base for people wanting affairs.”
Mr Taylor accepts that cheated on husbands and wives will direct a lot of their anger towards sites like Illicit Encounters.
But while he has sympathy with them, he says the reason affairs happen is because of problems within the relationship, not the website.
“If anything, the outcome of people using Illicit Encounters can be couples talking about their problems and either fixing their relationship or breaking up.
“It is probably for the best. But I do have the utmost sympathy for those who are cheated on.”
Could this woman be eyeing up your husband? Read today’s Lancashire Evening Post to find out all about a serial mistress who loves dating Preston’s married men.