Pandemic, Social Distancing, and Adultery
As we reported recently, China’s divorce rates seem to be on the rise as a result of quarantined or sequestered spouses in that country having to spend too much time together during the COVID-19 outbreak. As we also advised, similar speculation abounds over an increase in divorces are rampant in the U.K., and several U.S. news sources likewise predict that the self-isolation and quarantining made necessary by COVID-19 will lead to breakups in relationships of all kinds.
But how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted adultery?
Certainly, government-imposed mandates around self-isolation and physical/social distancing make it more difficult or impossible for affair partners to continue to meet clandestinely. As reported in the New York Post recently, a husband contracted the coronavirus while on a secret trip to visit his mistress in Italy, after telling his wife that he was in the U.K. on business.
And even leaving aside the health risks, for those partners-in-adultery who persist in meeting in-person, the COVID-19 pandemic might be making it easier to trace their whereabouts.
For example, a the BBC reports the South Korean strategy for tracking the spread of the coronavirus appears to be helping uncover adultery and illicit activity. By way of an emergency alert delivered by cellphone notification, the government constantly advises its citizens whenever they are in the vicinity of a diagnosed COVID-19 patient. Citizens can also look up the information on the website of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
However, the effect of these notices has been to inadvertently betray the whereabouts of spouses who are not where they are supposed to be, or are not where they claim to be. Although no names or addresses are given in these government alerts, South Koreans are finding a way to “connect the dots” to identify individiuals, and to correctly draw the conclusion that they are having an affair. Regular online searches can also help pinpoint the personal details of adulterers.
Even if real-life adultery is too risky, virtual affairs might be on the upswing: The Times of India reports that there is a rise in online extramarital affairs since that country’s lockdown. Another article from that country reports that an online dating App called Gleeden, which is designed specifically to help extramarital affair partners find each other, has seen a 70 percent rise in their subscriptions lately.
Nobody knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last. And nobody knows how it will impact relationships – whether established, sputtering, or clandestine.