V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer
Cheating hearts

Published in the Toronto Sun and Sun Media papers, October, 2007.

Part 4 in a 4-day series

Private investigators tailing their middle-aged subject knew they had busted him when he walked into a non-descript building in downtown Edmonton and out walked a cross-dresser.

His wife hired Covert Investigations Inc. to follow her car salesman husband and confirm her nagging suspicions. Turned out he was fornicating with the 26-year-old owner of an escort service housed in a den of sex. As payment, the woman was driving around town in a shiny new luxury car.

"When you've been doing this for 17 years, you've pretty much seen it all," said owner Mark Gruschynski, 38.

According to a Sun Media-Leger Marketing sex poll, though, almost 30% of Canadians admit to illicit trysts and cheating on their partner. While Atlantic Canada boasted the most faithful partners, with only 16% admitting to cheating, that number doubles in the Prairie provinces, where 35% say they've been unfaithful.

Gender differences are marginal among the 1,524 poll respondents, with 30% of men cheating, compared to 25% of women.

"Cheaters follow the same patterns," Gruschynski said, and signs of infidelity are predictable.

But sometimes the victims of betrayal can also fall into dangerous patterns, he added, and call back to bust subsequent unfaithful partners.

The bust-a-cheat business has been brisk in Edmonton, growing proportionally to the population boom. Summer is particularly busy, he said, when long summer days and more exposed skin heat up dormant libidos.

Though it's said it takes two to tango, most couples counsellors agreed that cheaters who do the horizontal mambo are ultimately accountable for their actions.

"The victim of betrayal should never be blamed," said Montreal psychotherapist Jason Phelps. But infidelity is often the result of growing distance in the relationship, he said.

When Sun Media dangled a carrot in front of respondents in the form of secret sex, three-quarters of Canadians said they would never cheat even if no one could ever find out. But a gender breakdown reveals that double the percentage of men -- 26% -- would cheat if given the chance.

* * *

Meanwhile, the refrain "look but don't touch" may apply to casual glances of admiration on the street, but intimacy at any level -- including online -- is considered a betrayal among the majority of Canadians.

While 67% of Canadians consider kissing cheating, online intimacy is close behind at 63%, followed by "loving someone else but no sex" at 56%.

"Many partners will feel betrayed by online chatting," Phelps said. "They're sharing their inner-most thoughts, feelings and fantasies with someone outside the relationship; the partner will feel betrayed."

But while online intimacy is seen as emotional betrayal among 72% of women, only 54% of men consider cybersex and online chats cheating.

"When one's doing it secretively, it doesn't involve the other person and it becomes an ongoing thing, it's going to cause problems," Phelps said.

-- -- --

HAVE YOU EVER CHEATED OR BEEN UNFAITHFUL TO A SPOUSE/PARTNER?

All Canadians 28%

Atlantic 16%

Quebec 29%

Ontario 30%

Prairies 35%

Alberta 28%

B.C. 25%

WOULD YOU CHEAT IF NO ONE EVER FOUND OUT?

All Canadians 19%

18-24 13%

25-34 16%

35-44% 19%

45- 54 21%

55-64 24%

65 + 23%

DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT A FRIEND OR CO-WORKER WHILE HAVING SEX WITH YOUR PARTNER/SPOUSE?

13% Women

28% Men

18% All Canadians

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER CHEATING?

Sexual Intercourse 94%

Kissing 67%

Online intimacy 63%

In love with another but no sex 56%

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING BEST REFLECTS YOUR VIEW?

As long as there is no deception involved, a person can be intimate with more than one person. 31%

Someone should only date one person if they are having a sexual relationship. 69%

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