Internet Dating and Playfairs: A New Trend
The contraceptive revolution of the 1960s led to an explosion of pre-marital sex, often considered shocking at the time. A less visible and slower consequence is an increase in extra-marital relationships among people of all ages. Dating websites for married people seeking affairs and casual sex have sprung up in the last decade. In her new book The New Rules: Internet Dating, Playfairs, and Erotic Power (Gibson Square Books 2012) Catherine Hakim explores this hidden world of affairs. Based on interviews with hundreds of men and women who use the websites, she assesses the causes, consequences, and social processes involved in ‘playfairs’, affairs that are purely about playtime. The study found that celibate and almost sexless marriages were the main root cause of affairs, although there were often other triggers and catalysts. However men outnumber women on the websites, so women’s erotic power gave them control in the dating process.
Dr. Catherine Hakim is an expert on women’s employment, social and family policy, and related issues. As a Research Fellow in the London School of Economics she developed a preference theory and her theory of erotic capital. She is currently a guest at the WZB.