January seems to be a particularly problematic month for relationships.
A week after Divorce Day (when lawyers see a spike in business from couples ready to sever ties with their spouses), comes January 9 — “the day you’re most likely to get cheated on.”
Extramarital dating site Gleeden.com saw a 320 per cent increase in registrations on the second Monday of 2016, making it the busiest day of the year.
Much like infidelity site Ashley Madison did before it was hacked, Gleeden offers a place for married men and women to “pursue their adventures in a classy, confidential and secure environment.”
Since it launched in France in 2009, the female-run site has attracted three million members. Roughly 105,000 of them live in Canada, mostly in these five cities:
- Quebec City
- Laval and
Why do people sign up to cheat?
It appears the holidays have a way of tearing some couples apart rather than bringing them together.
More than half the subscribers surveyed said they signed up for the site after excessive year-end celebrations stifled their relationships and “spurred a greater desire for freedom.”
About a quarter of users cited a “desire for something new in their lives.” Just over 7o per cent admitted to being more active on the site at the beginning of the year.
Gleeden spokesperson Solene Paillet chalks it up to people just wanting to “inject a little excitement into their everyday life.”
“Routine may weigh down on individuals, or be rather oppressive when it follows extended periods devoted to family life,” she told Global News in an emailed statement.
Toronto-based relationship expert Nicole McCance says some people might also be influenced by the post-holiday slump.
“You’re feeling down. It’s dark when you get up, it’s dark when you go home. You just want to feel good, so you may reach out for attention from somebody,” she said.
McCance has also noticed a trend of her patients being more reckless at the beginning of the year.
“If they’re fed up with something and they see that, ‘OK this is the beginning of the year, and I need to put up with this for a whole year,’ they’re more likely to passively cheat.”
She describes passive cheating as allowing a close friendship at work, for example, to go too far. McCance says signing up for an infidelity website is an active form of cheating because it’s deliberate.
There are two main risk factors for cheating, she explains: opportunity and personality.
Those who are believed to be more prone to cheat tend to be thrill-seekers and risk-takers attracted to “drama.” They always need something “new,” and are easily bored in life, McCance says.
Research has also shown, she adds, those who’ve only been with one partner (because they married their high school or college sweetheart) are more likely to have an affair in their late 30s to early 40s.
How to “affair-proof” your relationship
- Communicate your unmet needs and desires
Talk things out and be honest, regardless of how difficult that may seem.
McCance believes you should tell your partner even if you only felt the urge to cheat. By owning up to that, she explains the two of you can work through the underlying issue together or with the help of a therapist.
She also encourages couples to admit if they feel attracted to someone else, which she says is “quite normal.”
Even though it may not be what you want to hear, it’s important to remember your partner telling you this is a good thing and it might even bring your closer.
“They trust you enough… They feel safe enough in the relationship, emotionally, and secure enough to open up,” McCance said.
WATCH: 5 things you can do affair-proof your relationship
This past October, sexologist Jessica O’Reilly wrote on Post City Toronto about a couple who “affair-proofed” their marriage by being “open about their sexual insecurities and jealousy triggers” and discussing what they want sexually.
“Because they’re normalizing these conversations now, in the absence of any problems, they’ll be better prepared to address potential issues if they arise in the future,” O’Reilly explained in the post.
McCance suggests having regular relationship “check-ins,” during which you can discuss your feelings with your partner.
If your partner has previously revealed an attraction or weak moment, you can use this opportunity to follow up on that.
- Know you’re not immune
Research has shown couples underestimate the likelihood their partner will cheat because they take a “NIMBY” approach to infidelity.
“We put on blinders… as we’re naturally motivated to see our partners as better than average,” O’Reilly told us in December.
She pointed out another study, however, found 56 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women who were unfaithful reported being satisfied in their primary relationship.
Family therapist Marissa Nelson explained last April that men and women who cheat often “want to experience a part of themselves,” which they may have lost in their relationship. That could be their sense of spontaneity or feeling attractive.
WATCH: Psychotherapist Catherine Wood discusses how couples can try to mend their relationship after infidelity
While affairs can be extremely painful when they’re exposed because of the lies and betrayal involved, relationship experts stress infidelity doesn’t necessarily need to end a relationship.
And if you stay with someone who’s strayed, it doesn’t mean you’re weak.
“In fact, in many cases, I would suggest that the willingness to continue to working through tough times demonstrates the opposite,” O’Reilly said in April.
She and other experts also don’t believe the old saying “once a cheater, always a cheater.”