SA has 1.8 women to every 1 man on cheating site Ashley Madison
Among the 50 countries in which infidelity site Ashley Madison operates, SA is its 12th-biggest market.
This is according to Paul Keable, chief commercial officer of the site, which provides married individuals with an alternative to divorce through discreet affairs.
Keable, who is in SA in the month of love to expand Ashley Madison's operations, spoke to TimesLIVE.
Divorce, though mostly perceived as a way of taking control of one's life and happiness, should not be the only way out of a marriage, not when men and women can turn to infidelity to supplement their imperfect unions, he said.
“When you seek happiness that you don't find in your marriage, yet you're looking for a different pathway to divorce, which leads to a lot of outcomes that are not positive for the family, that's where Ashley Madison comes in.”
Though mostly conservative and still fixated on the idea of monogamy, 40,000 South Africans signed up on the site last year, which tells you how many married people are, as Keable put it, “not open about being in polyamorous relationships”.
The site has noted when people sign up and, contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is not it.
“As we head into the holiday season in November and December, we see a down cycle, because people are spending more time with their families. That downturn turns into an upturn in January and February.”
Various factors contribute to this and they include the discreet nature of affairs. During the holiday season, married individuals are avoiding getting caught, but at the same time there is mounting pressure to seek an extramarital affair as spending time in a troubled marriage exposes its cracks.
There are a number of reasons men and women cheat, and while sex is a factor, it's not the only one. Keable said the reasons men and women cheat are an inverse of what is widely perceived, which is that men seek sexual satisfaction and women emotional validation.
“The vast majority of women are in orgasm-less marriages and they're unwilling to live a life without sexual fulfilment. Men come for emotional validation, the idea that they are desired.”
Women dominate the site locally and globally. In SA, there are almost two women for one man, with the global ratio standing at almost 50/50.
“For SA, we have 1.8 active female accounts for every one active male account. Globally, the number is almost 1.11 females serving one male.”
Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have some of the highest cheaters, and the population in these provinces is not a major factor, according to Keable. “In a big city, you can hide in the Open, unlike in a small city, where everyone knows your story.”
It hasn't always been love and affairs on Ashley Madison. In 2015, the site was plagued with security concerns after it was hacked, putting the personal details and identities of more than 37 million users, thousands of whom were South Africans, at risk.
Keable assured TimesLIVE that the site had since beefed up its technology and security to ensure the safety of its users. He also revealed that contrary to what was anticipated at the height of the scandal, thousands more flocked the site to register, resulting in a revenue increase of up to 20%.
“Right before the events happened, we were signing up about 33,000 users a day about the world and during the worst of the events, we had more than 100,000 people signing up. This showed us that there were people who didn't know about us.”
Keable said security checks were now done daily to avoid a repeat of the 2015 incident.