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Experience is another lure

"A single person might think: 'If I have to go out with anyone, it might as well be a married person who has more experience in a relationship and sex.'"

For Suradi, the factors that push a single woman into the arms of a married man are loneliness, society's perception of them and a basic fulfilment of their needs.

Most of the single women who pursue married men, he says, are those in their late 20s or 30s.

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» The dirty truth about affairs

 

"Some are divorcees. They are attracted to married men because they believe they are more stable with higher incomes, more dependable as well as mature," says Suradi, who is also a member of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry's Board of Counsellors.

Another reason, he says, is that men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s can "better deal" with younger women. They do a better job than younger men. Older men are also more attractive.

"Women are more attractive when they are in their teens or early 20s. Men are more attractive when they are older.

"For example, if you look at a photo of a woman when she was in her early 20s and another when in her 40s, you will find her more attractive when she was younger.

"But for a man, the situation is reversed. He will be more attractive in his 40s. Men bloom later."

Suradi says that being single is not easy.

"When you are single in your late 20s and 30s, you are termed an anak dara tua (spinster).

"You will also find it more difficult to attract single men as most of them would already be married.

"As you grow older, finding friends to hang out with will also become more difficult as they would be married.

"So loneliness compels you to seek a companion," says Suradi.

Wilks says single women usually hoped for a commitment through the affair.

However, men are more "footloose and fancy free" and would most times look at the relationship as only a "fling".

It is also easy to get away with having an affair now, says Suradi, because most men and women work late.

"Being seen having dinner or a drink with someone who is not your spouse is now considered normal."

In the case of Muslims, stresses Suradi, such affairs tend not to be sexual.

"They might have feelings for each other but they will not act upon it.

"Most Muslim men would just enjoy being with the woman and if they care enough for her, they would end up taking the woman as their second wife.

"But if they are free-thinkers and are not committed to their religion, they won't care that much," says Suradi.

Wilks says although the guilt is there, both parties will proceed with an affair because they are confident of not being caught.

"Their rationale is: 'If you don't catch me, then no one gets hurt.' In reality though, it does affect their behaviour towards their spouse.

"Even if the spouse does not know about the relationship, they would notice changes in the cheating spouse, who will usually become more caring to cover up their guilt," says Wilks.

Suradi says, however, that the question of guilt does not arise in the case of single Muslim women having affairs with married men.

"Among Muslims, men can have four wives. So if a Muslim woman is pursuing a married man, she would not feel that she is stealing another woman's husband.

"For non-Muslims, although there is some guilt, they do not feel it is a great sin to have an affair," says Suradi.

What about single men who pursue married women?

"It's usually not the man who pursues the married woman but the other way around.

"The woman probably feels her husband is not providing her what she needs so she pursues a single man, usually a younger one. She enjoys the affair as there is no commitment.

"For the men, why not? After all, the women are the ones offering themselves. They do know it is wrong but they still do it because they know they can get away with it," says Suradi.

Wilks points out that affairs rarely end in marriage.

Instead, there is a greater chance of the existing marriage breaking up.

He says while there appears to be more such cases now, it is still something frowned upon by society.

"Sadly though, society is more harsh when it's the married woman having the affair.

"When men do it, it's viewed as being part of his nature, but it is not," says Wilks.


 

 
 
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