A new survey has identified the areas of the UK where men and women are most likely to cheat on their partners and the wealthy commuter town of Guildford, Surrey, has been named as the number one hotspot for extramarital affairs.
The pretty cathedral town is a sought-after spot for families and a popular choice for those needing to travel into London for work. Its residents are typically high-earners, with the average house price in Guildford being £577,194, according to Rightmove (compared with £367,760 nationally).
However, behind the respectable facade, the leafy town of Guildford has been revealed as a hotbed of passion, with an "explosion" of affairs as the cost of living crisis makes it too expensive for unhappy couples to divorce. Instead, more may be tempted to seek escape elsewhere.
The survey by IllicitEncounters.com, the UK’s leading affairs site, found Guildford topped the list of the UK’s 400 most likely places for extramarital liaisons with 5.2% of the population being unfaithful. A total of 3,289 people were registered on the website for affairs, so the real number of adulterers is likely to be far higher.
Cheating is on the rise right now with a massive 12% increase in adultery since the start of the year, according to the website, as life returns to normal post-lockdown and people try to make the most of their new-found freedom.
This is the highest annual rise in affairs since the controversial dating website was founded 19 years ago. Guildford alone saw a massive increase of 41% on 2021’s figure of 2,325 affairs in the town.
One resident who admitted to having had three affairs already this year joked that, “They should rename it Guilt-ford! It is a real hotbed for cheating."
“Sex in the suburbs has never been more popular and there has been an explosion of cheating in the last year,” says the website’s relationship expert Jessica Leoni.
“The cost of living crisis has been a huge factor in boosting the numbers of affairs. Sex is one of the few things you can do which is free and is a good way to relieve stress.
Whereas once arguing couples would have divorced, in these tough economic times the huge expense involved in splitting up may make a separation less likely.
“Fewer unhappy couples can afford to divorce because the cost of setting up two new homes is astronomical,” says Leoni. “It's far cheaper to stay in an unhappy relationship and have a discreet affair.”
Other factors are likely to be people wanting to escape the misery of Covid, with many unhappy couples having no choice during lockdown but to be trapped at home with each other.
“Life finally returning to normal after COVID and cheaters making up for lost time after two years of restrictions” are key contributing factors, confirms Leoni. “The run-up to Christmas is always a boom time for affairs too because most people are back in the office and looking for some fun.”
There was no North/South divide in terms of cheating with adulterers being widely spread across the UK.
The second most likely place for affairs was revealed to be Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, with 4.95% of the population cheating, then Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, on the outskirts of Glasgow with 4.85% of residents being unfaithful.
At the other end of the spectrum, the town boasting the most faithful spouses was Wigan, Greater Manchester, with only 436 people (0.13% of the population) cheating. In second place came Bournemouth, Dorset, with only 409 cheats (0.27% of residents) followed by Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, with only 315 cheats (0.32% of the population).
Curious about your own town? Enter your location into the Infidelity Index to find out the truth about your neighbours.
More than 1.5 million people have had secret relationships with IllicitEncounters since its launch back in 2003. The site makes it easier to arrange a secret liaison, but of course it's a dangerous game to play.
“Affairs are often problematic because they represent a short-term solution to a longer term problem," explain the relationship experts at Relate.
"Finding excitement and fun with someone can feel good in the here and now, but it doesn’t address why this excitement disappeared from your current relationship in the first place.”
If you’re considering an affair, Relate points out that while it may “feel like you’ll never be discovered” in fact most infidelities are found out and then "cause great hurt” to both parties and their families.
So what should you do if you’re tempted? “If you and your partner have issues in your relationship, the unexciting truth is that it will take work and commitment on both your parts to address them,” says the team at Relate, the biggest provider of relationship support in England and Wales.
“While this might sound scary or even just exhausting, it’s the best way to give your relationship the chance to grow and change.”