Married Man Seeking Married Companion

Dating Site For Cheaters Exploits Country’s Reputation For Infidelity

By Alex Braverman and Madeline D’Agostino

Photo courtesy of ashleymadison.com

In the Czech Republic, 40 percent of men and 26 percent of women believe extra-marital affairs are normal. Photo courtesy of ashleymadison.com

The Czech Republic has a reputation. It is one of the first things you hear as a foreigner; Czechs are early-risers, reserved, and open to adultery.

A few surveys support this last impression.

In 2013, Pew Research came out with a Global Attitudes study that asked about 40,000 participants whether they view marital infidelity as unacceptable, acceptable, or not a moral issue. Seventeen percent of the 700 Czechs surveyed believed straying was acceptable – the highest percentage of the 39 participating countries.

Dr. Petr Weiss, a leading sexologist in the Czech Republic who works at the Institute of Sexology in Prague, offers insight into Czech beliefs about infidelity. Starting in 1993, Dr. Weiss has conducted a survey of Czech sexual attitudes every five years, which includes the question “What is your opinion about extramarital sex?” In 2013, Dr. Weiss found the following opinions:

Opinion on Extramarital Sex

 

 

 

 

 

With 40 percent of men and 26 percent of women deeming infidelity “natural,” the Czech Republic appears to be more liberal about the issue than countries that conduct comparable surveys, such as the United States, France, Germany, and Great Britain, according to Dr. Weiss.

“Sexual liberalism is connected with atheism, and Czechs are the most secular people in the world,” Dr. Weiss stated, adding that, “religiosity is the main factor in sexual conservatism.” He also found that conservatism is higher with increasing age, lower levels of education, and among women.

Although a high percentage of polled Czechs might tolerate infidelity, this does not mean that it permeates society as much as one might expect. When asked about the high number of extramarital affairs in the Czech Republic, Jitka Kalasova, 30s, a staff member at New York University in Prague who has a long-term life partner, responded with surprise, saying, “I really don’t think it’s more than in other countries.” She finds the infidelity rates surprising because, unlike Dr. Weiss, she “wouldn’t think Czechs would be that liberal.”

Why should the prime ministers have all the fun?  Love affairs are for everyone! Photo courtesy of praguepost.com

“Why should the prime ministers have all the fun? Love affairs for everyone!”
Photo courtesy of praguepost.com

“Sexual liberalism is connected with atheism, and Czechs are the most secular people in the world.”

Misa Kubatova, 24, a student at the University of Economics in Prague, suggests infidelity before marriage is a practical tool. “I don’t see it as infidelity when you’re seeing someone regularly,” she said. “It helps you see what is good about your partner and gives you reasons to stay with them.” However, Kubatova did advise discretion. “If it happens that you cheat and it helps you decide that you want to be with them, don’t tell them. It will help you, but hurt them to know.”

Meanwhile, one infamous U.S. company that caters to so-called cheaters plans to cash-in on the Czech reputation for free love.

Founded in 2001, Ashley Madison is an online dating platform for married individuals seeking to stray. It came to the Czech Republic this July, with fast results. After just a few weeks, the site had 3,000 new members and 500,000 site visits, as reported by the Prague Post, an English-language news site. However, the most recent count puts new membership at 13,600, according to the site’s European communications director Christoph Kraemer, who is based in Berlin. “That’s a growth rate of more than 450 percent in six weeks,” said Kraemer in a phone interview. “This is far above our expectations. It’s the highest growth rate we have had in Europe and one of the highest in our history.” Ashley Madison has a presence in almost 20 other European countries.

Kraemer gave two main reasons for the company’s decision to move to the Czech Republic. “We were aware that things were apparently not quite hunky-dory with marriages,” he said, citing the Czech Republic’s divorce rate of 2.5 percent, which is slightly higher than the EU average. Like Dr. Weiss, Kraemer also noted the minimal role that religion plays in public life, saying “there aren’t those moral rules and hang-ups in the Czech Republic regarding infidelity.”

Petr Mucha, 46, a professor at New York University in Prague specializing in religious and cultural history, also linked the Czech attitude towards religion with its liberal attitude towards sex outside of marriage.

“Of course it is common,” he said of infidelity. “The Czech Republic, due to its complicated past development, has a much higher level of an agnostic approach to religious values.” He puts emphasis on the fact that Czechs are often more “liberal” in their morals than some other European countries.

Some Czechs, however, object to Ashley Madison’s message.

The dating site’s July advertising campaign included billboards featuring three former Czech prime ministers – Mirek Topolanek, Petr Necas and Jiri Paroubek – whose extramarital affairs were the fodder of media exposés. The Czech Advertising Standards Council protested against the billboard after receiving consumer complaints, but without consequence. “Certain parts of Czech society want to make it a scandal, but the numbers and growth rates speak a different language,” said Kraemer. “Besides,” he claimed, “the people who shout and scream the loudest against us are usually the ones who join up.”

Alexandra Braverman is in the NYU College of Arts and Science Class of 2016. Her hometown is Iowa City, Iowa.
Madeline D’Agostino is in the NYU College of Arts and Science Class of 2016. Her hometown is Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

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Categories: Fall 2014 Issue Number 1, News

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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