Though she declines to tell me what she does, she is evidently well informed and intelligent. At the end of our lunch, she tells me she'd like to see me again. I say I have to go, and she tells me she's sorry we have to leave it there. She then fixes me with a gaze and says she wishes we could go elsewhere. I find myself thinking that if we did go to a hotel, if we undressed and went to bed, she would still return to her husband and children and the life she seems to find so unsatisfactory.
How bleak and depressing. That night I'm back in front of the computer looking for my next date. So many women are eager to tell me they're "stuck in a rut" or "want someone to make them feel alive again". I find it amazing how many of them are willing to meet me after exchanging only a few messages. I could be a serial killer and they would be none the wiser. Five married women send their mobile phone numbers to me without me even asking, disregarding the dangers. All I would have to do is ring at the wrong time to cause marital pandemonium.
A few offer little by way of enticement: It is striking that most of these woman have no interest in my domestic situation. They ignore the existence of my fictitious wife. They don't care that they are helping me cheat on her. In fact, they're encouraging it. So much for the sisterhood. Only one profile I came across shows any concern. In it she cautions: It is a stab at morality, but it rings hollow, given that the whole point of what she's doing is deciding whether to meet a married man and cheat on her husband with him.
A few of my potential dalliances are cut short. Some days later, I've arranged to have another secret assignation, this time in a pub. Sue is keen to meet, and one early evening, this dark-haired, buxom year-old takes the opportunity to go behind her husband's back and meet a strange man. Sue, whose internet photograph was probably taken a decade ago, sits simpering across the table. She gulps her wine down within minutes of me buying it, and looks up expectantly.
She talks about her career as a scientist in a hospital and then tells me she loves her husband of nine years, doesn't want to leave him, but wants me to add some sparkle to her life.
Like the other dates I've had, she is reluctant to discuss her personal circumstances. We do not dwell on the fact she is married. At one point, we're approached by a couple who ask politely whether they can sit on the two vacant seats at our table.
I consider this for a moment, and realise it will close down the already faltering meeting. They go off miffed and Sue looks at me as though I'm some sort of monster.
For all the glossy, sexy chat and out-of-date pictures posted online, this is the rather tawdry, mundane reality of these adulterous assignations. A pub on a wet afternoon and two people who have little to talk about except whether or not they are going to have a meaningless fling. She looks as if she might burst into tears but then surprisingly she bites back: Why are you doing that?
Stumped for a moment, I desperately search for a reason why I would cheat on my fictional sweet young wife before suggesting that we have grown apart and no longer communicate properly or sleep together. This seems to satisfy her, and we chat for another 20 minutes. It's general chit-chat and all fairly inconsequential, which I find rather surreal given the reason we have agreed to meet. Then I tell her I've arranged to see a friend and had better go. We walk out together and I go to peck her chastely on the cheek.
She turns her head and I have to dodge a sloppy wet kiss aimed at my mouth. Sue has been fairly typical of the women I have encountered on this website. She seemed lonely, bored and dissatisfied with her life. All she could see ahead of her was an endless round of cooking, cleaning, career and children. Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to interrupt a destructive, depressing cycle to your life. But what is shocking is the cold and calculating approach of these women, and the assumption that secret meetings with a married man can cure all the ills they see in their own families.
The women who use this website want romance, but these three meetings seemed utterly unromantic to me. When we met, most of them acted as if they were prepared to go to bed with me on the first meeting, and for that they were willing to risk wrecking their own home life and mine. Men are brought up to believe that it is we who relentlessly seek sex, that we are the ones who can separate the emotional from the physical.
But judging from the women I encountered, they have learned how to cast off their marriage vows and their love for their children, and risk it all for the sake of a liaison with a man they may never see again. What a triumph for our times.
No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. What I don't know is how her husband will feel about it.
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