A married woman has revealed that she does not feel guilty about using an affair dating website.
Hayley - whose full name has not been disclosed, obviously - has been married for five years and has absolutely no desire to get divorced.
But since last summer, she has been having affairs.
It started when a colleague came back to hers after a 'particularly stressful day at work', and after many drinks, they ended up 'kissing and that sort of thing'. Over the following months, they saw each other on and off, and Hayley realised their discrete encounters had made her feel 'more confident and attractive'.
Keen to replicate this thrill, she signed up to affair dating site Ashley Madison, and in February, she slept with a man she met through the app.
Hayley was shocked by what she'd done - but even more shocked about how she felt afterwards.
Speaking to LADbible, she said: "It was interesting 'cause I felt so nervous and everything when I ended up going back to his place. And afterwards, I was kind of waiting for this feeling to hit me - you know, I'd get hit by this huge rush of guilt or something. And it didn't happen that way.
"Interestingly, I think, with the stuff that happened last summer, I kind of already accepted that maybe I needed something else, outside of the marriage.
"So yeah, I didn't feel as guilty as I thought - not at all really."
Hayley has gone on to meet a couple of other men, but when the pandemic hit, her husband was furloughed and she began working from home. However, she continued exchanging videos and messages on various sites and said it had helped her to get through lockdown.
She said: "It's sort of almost even more needed when you're trapped at home.
"I don't know how to put this, I'm just going to be completely open - my sex drive is really, really high, probably a lot higher than my husband's.
"So I like to have chats with somebody whose sex drive is as high as mine, because that can be quite fun from time to time."
Seemingly irreconcilable sexual differences also drove Alex to join Ashley Madison.
He has two children with his wife of seven years and reckons having affairs has benefitted his marriage.
He told LADbible: "We don't have have the arguments or frustrations with each other about whatever it is that I like or she doesn't, you know, we can focus on other things in the marriage and in our relationship other than the sex of side of it.
"So, yeah, I think it's a good way to maintain the healthiness of the marriage, even though it feels diametrically opposed to that."
Alex has stopped visiting people during the pandemic for safety reasons, but has enjoyed a 'virtual relationship' maintained during 'midnight sessions'.
Like Hayley, Alex has no desire to get divorced, but after his wife emphatically quashed the possibility of attending swingers parties or engaging in a more open relationship, he felt having affairs was the best solution for his family.
He said: "We have a really good relationship, we're still each other's best friends.
"But sexually we're very far apart, and it's just one of those things where there's a lot more in the relationship than the sex - but sex is a big part for me, particularly.
"I've tried over the years to bring us closer together on that front, and yeah, it's not something we're gonna bridge the gap on anytime soon. I'd love it if we did. But yeah, she's just very, you know, vanilla with her tastes."
The sexual unfulfillment felt by Hayley and Alex is representative of the majority of Ashley Madison members, with 60 percent of its UK users indicating in a recent survey that their spouse had not initiated any sort of sexual intimacy during lockdown. Not having sexual needs met was cited as the primary reason for having affairs amid the pandemic by 64 percent of members.
However, Peter Saddington, a counsellor and sex therapist at Relate, believes there are many things people can do to reignite a spark with their partner, rather than looking for a spark elsewhere.
Speaking to LADbible, he said: "It is possible for couples to negotiate differences in sexual appetites. Communication is key.
"We'd also advise having these kind of conversations early on in the relationship and checking in with each other throughout as people's needs and desires can change over time."
He continued: "It's important to communicate about your needs and actively plan to work on the relationship both emotionally and sexually. This does often mean prioritising the relationship and ensuring you're building in quality time.
"It doesn't have to involve sex but may lead to it - the point is about increasing intimacy and spending quality time together in whatever way you feel.
"It's also important to have your own interests - a bit of distance between you from time to time is also great for keeping the spark alive. This is a little harder to achieve during lockdown but it might mean going for a run on your own or with a friend, or going to a different room for a while to read."
If, like Hayley and Alex, you are already having an affair, Peter said it is possible to come clean and build a stronger relationship - but he can't offer any guarantees.
He said: "An affair can be incredibly painful but with the right support such as counselling it is possible to move on from an affair and even to build a stronger relationship if both people are willing to put the work in.
"However an affair is certainly never something we would advise, and some relationships don't survive it."Featured Image Credit: Pexels/Roman Odintsov