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There was a staggering 67% rise in new accounts created on Christmas Day

January divorces are old news. It seems the new, New Year marital rebellion is to have an affair. One leading cheaters’ dating website has seen more than three times as many people joining the site in the week-long holiday period from Christmas Day until New Year’s Eve.

There was a staggering 67% rise in new accounts created on Christmas Day - perhaps an act of rebellion from frustrated, hen-pecked husbands and under-appreciated wives and partners.

Founder of the site Paul Graham puts it down to forced family duties: “Even the most loving couples can feel imprisoned at Christmas. Your home is taken over or you’re visiting someone else’s home and can’t properly relax. You’re forced into a four-day-chat-a-thon with in-laws you find boring at best or judgemental at worst. You’re in each other’s company the whole time and there is an endless task list. After Christmas it’s natural that people kick back. A fling or a short affair doesn’t necessarily mean your marriage is in trouble. For some it’s about needing to feel alive and like an adult again.”

Alongside the rise in new memberships, overall site activity had also grown during the festive period, with more messages and ‘winks’ sent and a longer time spent online by members - possibly as a result of people having more time, being off work, or because they’re using the excitement of a prospective forbidden date as fuel to get them through the tedium of constant entertaining.

Ayesha Vardag is one of the UK’s leading divorce lawyers. She says Christmas bickering is nothing new, but people now react to it differently: “We always see a degree of a spike after Christmas for this sort of activity. What is new, is the phenomenon of cheating websites. Rather than people just thinking, in a moment of frustration, ‘that’s what I’ll do, I’ll have an affair’, they now have everything at their fingertips to go out and actually do it.”

With stress, finances and alcohol having embellished arguments, it prompts many affected partners to take action. “You can’t do anything right at Christmas,” said one member. “You cooked the turkey but the veg wasn’t hot enough. You’re civil to in-laws but you said one wrong thing. You bought the wife a present and she asks to change it.”

“There is this intense pressure to perform at Christmas,” says Vardag, who has acted in a string of multi-million pound separations and has been labelled Britain’s best divorce lawyer by The Huffington Post. “The Christmas meal becomes a litmus test at one’s ability to run a family and present oneself as a domestic god / goddess with everything wonderful.”

But she warns that reassessing the relationship is better than jumping into an affair: “Having an affair is the cowardly alternative to divorce. If you can’t bring yourself to end the partnership, you have an affair. There is an element of fantasy and protest by hooking up with one of these websites. It basically says screw you.” says January is usually the busiest month for new memberships but notes the significance that the peak is happening sooner, before the New Year has even begun. “This means that people are logging on at home before the holiday period has ended” says Graham. “People are getting more web savvy. More people have their own laptops and Smartphones so they worry less about web browsing history, meaning they can use the site at home as well as out of it.”

Graham says that the site is gearing up for a 300% rise in memberships and site activity in January as people look to reassert their individuality after feeling hankered down at Christmas.

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