My husband doesn't know about my internet lover
A dating website for married people has taken off in Ireland and abroad, writes Deirdre Reynolds
Published 06/08/2010 | 05:00
After a fraught day in the office, Celine (32) can't wait for a little sexual healing at home. She kicks off her heels, unwinds in the shower, slips into something a little more comfortable, pours a glass of wine and, finally, beckons her husband to bed.
Then she fobs him off with an excuse about having more work to do and slinks downstairs.
A few taps of the keyboard later, while her husband nods off alone in their connubial bed, she's in the arms of her online lover -- fantasising about things she'd never dream of doing with the man she married.
But the steamy clinch doesn't simply end when she powers off her laptop and snuggles into her husband an hour later.
From chatroom to covert encounters, lust-consumed Celine has made the leap from the moral grey area of cyber cheating to actual adultery.
And she's not alone.
The married professional is just one of 325,000 bored husbands and wives worldwide who've signed up to Gleeden. com, a fledgling dating site for those seeking extramarital fun.
Giving new meaning to the tangled web we weave, the French site aims to weed out the love rats that frequently infest the singles scene and lump them together in cyberspace to unleash their libidos.
With better spin, of course; "Gleeden unites love and lust, marriage and freedom," or so goes the tagline which has so far seduced 1,000 Irish would-be philanderers since its launch here last month.
It seems every other celebrity has a bit on the side. Even those previously considered squeaky-clean, such as Tiger Woods, Mark Owen and Ronan Keating, have got caught with their pants down.
And as anyone who's ever unwittingly become the Other Woman will testify, there's no shortage of Irish men in pubs and offices across the country who'd happily pull a Tiger by taking a mistress (or 13).
And Gleeden certainly isn't the first website to cash in on infidelity.
Launched in 2001 by entrepreneur Darren Morgenstern, the controversial Ashley Madison Agency is the original of the species.
The online dating service for married people drew the ire of conservative America with its brazen slogan: 'Life is Short. Have an Affair.'
But claiming over 6 million mostly male members, the global brand is still going strong -- despite inspiring lots of copycat competition.
So with the worldwide web already crawling with them, do we really need another forum for cheats?
Gleeden hopes to carve a niche for lady love rats.
Unlike other male-dominated adultery sites, 40 per cent of Gleeden's users are women aged between 30 and 40 -- a statistic which is on the up according to bosses.
As many women as men are employed by the website, which is designed and patrolled with female users in mind.
And while men pay anything from €15 for a trial to €500 for six months VIP membership, women go scot-free-- apart from their conscience.
Young, attractive but unfulfilled by her husband, Celine is a typical Gleeden user.
Since joining the site, the Dubliner has already slept with two other married members behind her husband's back.
"I came on Gleeden out of curiosity," she tells. "I'd read about it in a women's magazine and decided to give it a try.
"I love my husband and I certainly don't want to leave him for another man. But after a few years of marriage, the spark is gone. I don't really desire him in the same way as I did in the beginning.
"I don't visit the site every day, but I go on every so often to check my messages. So far, I've met two men through the website."
A recent survey by the site revealed that while its lady love rats keep things standard in the marital sack, they save their kinky side for their secret lover.
A red-blooded 35pc of female respondents are gagging for a European inamorato such as an Italian stallion or sexy Spaniard to supplement their home-grown other half.
Despite refusing to do the same with the old ball and chain, 25pc would watch porn and 15pc would dress up for role play with their lover.
"I say and do things with my lover that I would never do with my husband," admits Celine. "I would say that I have two lives: one with my husband and another with my lovers, where I'm free to express myself without being judged by the man I love.
"I feel sexier and freer with my lovers than I do my husband. It's like having two personalities."
But from Facebook poking to online porn (not to mention good old-fashioned office flings), isn't modern marriage endangered enough without technology laying yet another honeypot for prospective adulterers?
Although facilitating affairs for thousands of married people across the planet, Gleeden orchestrators insist there's nothing sleazy about the service.
"We're not promoting adultery, we just refuse to be hypocrites," says spokesperson Pauline Delannoy.
"Research has found that one-in-three people who use dating websites are actually married and lying about it. So we decided to create a secure community where married people could meet other married people without fear of judgment.
"We haven't really been surprised by the take-up worldwide," she adds.
"And we're very happy with the rate Irish people are subscribing and expect it to grow exponentially as more and more people become aware of the service.
"Our Irish members tend to be a little more secretive than other nationalities, with a much smaller number posting up pictures to the site."
Despite matchmaking married people -- and particularly testing women, the site washes its hands of the home-wrecking ways of its users.
"Members decide on the type of relationship they wish to pursue," Pauline continues. "From a simple conversation to sex, we never encourage one type of relationship over another. What our members do when they get together away from the website is nothing to do with us -- we just make it easier.
"If a woman wants to cheat on her husband, she's going to do it whether Gleeden exists or not. Women have always had affairs; they're just better at lying about it."
It's not a good enough excuse for setting an online landmine for couples who make the ultimate commitment, counter-argues marriage counsellor David Kavanagh of Avalon Relationship Counselling (www.avalonrc.com).
"In today's society, where it is so difficult to legally and financially extricate oneself from an unhappy marriage, I'm not surprised that there are so many Irish people secretly seeking their kicks online.
"But people are fooling themselves if they think they can have both a happy marriage and a secret lover.
"A happy marriage is one in which you feel your needs -- sexual and otherwise -- are being met, end of story. If a husband or wife is seeking intimacy elsewhere, there are underlying problems with the relationship."
'Marriage is meant to protect couples against vices like lust and avarice," he adds. "So whether it's a website or something else, any vehicle that plays on a person's inner doubts, insecurities or fears in a relationship is utterly unhelpful.
"If you get found out using such a service, the costs are enormously high."
For now, at least, Celine is confident her sexy secret is safe.
"I can't go out at night without my husband being suspicious," she explains, "that's why I use the internet. It's easier, faster and gives you more choice.
"When you meet someone on Gleeden, you don't have to explain why you have to be discreet -- everyone is in the same boat. And there's no risk of the other person looking for something more serious.
"But I'm still very careful not to get caught."
Asked how she'd feel if the shoe were on the other foot, her answer hints that not only are Irish women lusting after exotic lovers, we've developed a European attitude to adultery too.
"Honestly, I'd be amazed to discover that my husband was using the site too," Celine says, "but mainly because he's not very good with the internet! I can accept the idea of my husband having affairs, but I'd prefer not to know about it."
For Ireland's online cheats -- and their partners -- ignorance, it seems, is indeed bliss.