Society

Encouraging cheating

New website for Chinese who want to have a love affair

Famous adultress: the wife of the last emperor (played by Joan Chen)

“Life is short. Have an affair.” That’s the catchy slogan used by AshleyMadison.com, an online matchmaking site. But unlike popular dating sites like Match.com, AshleyMadison is designed for people who are already married (or in a relationship). In other words, it hooks up cheaters with other cheaters.

The Toronto-based site claims that it’s “safe” for cheaters because everyone going on the site knows what they are getting into, says New York Daily. And the formula seems to be working. AshleyMadison now claims a whopping 7.8 million members since it was launched in 2008.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that China now has its own online dating site for cheaters too. Kuanhou.com, like AshleyMadison, facilitates extramarital affairs, and the site claims to have been attracting a lot of neglected husbands and wives, says Beijing Youth Daily.

To meet fellow philanderers, Kuanhou requires that its members fill out a basic questionnaire, even though most members seem to be a little bashful in outlining their motives for joining the website. In her self-description, RuoShui, 32, declares that she is interested in “finding a friend to talk to”. Similarly, 27 year-old Hawthorn Tree says she is looking for “a sensitive man” to enrich her life. More promisingly, Angle, 37, thinks that “when you look back in life, it doesn’t matter whether it is right or wrong”.

Female users can use the site for free. But men have to pay Rmb50 to register and initiate contact. Those who want to access other members’ profiles and receive messages from interested parties must pay Rmb200 a year to become what the site calls a “VIP member”.

One user by the name of Wang started using the site when his relationship with his wife of two years began to drift. He reveals that she spends all his salary shopping on the internet, does no housework and is useless in the kitchen.

“I loved my wife,” he says. “But it’s not all about love. Love is difficult to maintain.”

Infidelity is increasingly widespread, growing in tandem with China’s economic and social opportunities. This has helped drive up the country’s divorce rate. Today, one in five Chinese marriages ends in divorce (by comparison, marital break-ups were practically unheard of during the Maoist era).

Xu Anqi, a researcher with Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told Mirror Evening News that the major cause of the rise in divorce is social mobility, which has weakened the cohesiveness of family ties.

But then philandering has been commonplace in China for centuries. Few statistics exist on the frequency of extra-marital affairs, but anecdotal evidence abounds – for example, the country’s former railways boss, who was charged with corruption last week, supposedly had 18 mistresses (see WiC95).

Indeed, the mistress culture is prevalent enough that mistresses around the country are planning an annual festival of their own on March 3. Why that date? The number “3” indicates their position as the third person in the relationship and March is also the third month.

The Shanghai Daily reported this week that “China’s Association for Mistresses” has also established an online forum, xiexie.com, for all those who claim to be mistresses of married men. Members publish articles on the site, describing their relationships with wealthy men and celebrating the lavish gifts that they have received. Mistresses are good for business: a report in 2008 estimated that ‘the other woman’ accounted for one third of China’s consumption of luxury products.

A wide range of online discussion covers the crucial topics (shopping and breast enhancement are high on the list, naturally). Likewise how to be a perfect lover comes in for review – “totally different from a man’s ordinary wife” – seems to be a key theme.

Not to be outdone, angry wives are fighting back. Outraged spouses have got together online to launch their own weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, on Sina. They, too, are planning their own festival, on March 8, International Women’s Day. Presumably rather different topics will come up for discussion. Cheating husbands, beware…


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