Single women have found a new challenge in the world of dating: preying on married men.
While lonely ladies hooking up with wedded gentlemen may not be a new trend, the outward nature of their courtship is. They're called "affair-seekers." Is your husband at risk?
Philadelphia TV reporter Alycia Lane is the most recently accused affair-seeker to wind up on Page Six of the New York Post. Lane, recently divorced for a second time, sent several e-mails with risque photos of herself to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen.
The photos were intended for Eisen's eyes only, the Post reported, but when his wife discovered the snapshots on their joint e-mail account, she responded with a scathing memo:
- Experts say that affair-seekers -- women who purposefully go for married men -- are motivated by ego-embellishment and the thrill of the chase. Is your husband being targeted?
"Sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use -- since you surely are trying so hard to get his attention. I mean, what better way to get a guy's attention than with skin! Best -- Suzy Shuster Eisen."
Lane responded to the Post's report in an exclusive interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She said that the e-mails were merely exchanges between friends and that they were misinterpreted.
"Rich Eisen and I have been good friends for almost 10 years and our relationship has always been purely platonic. We regularly exchange e-mails and photos," she said. "It's unfortunate that there was a misunderstanding over some harmless pictures of myself and my friends on vacation that I shared with him."
Lane says she does not seek out married men.
"I don't want to hurt his marriage," she said to the Inquirer. "I hope love comes to me. I'm not looking for it with a married man. I have been the married girl who was cheated on. … This casts me as something I am not at all."
Though Lane says her e-mails were misunderstood, the accusations of her home-wrecking behavior shed light on a growing trend among single women.
Affair-seeking women aren't afraid to put themselves out there, and while Lane denies any romantic interest in Eisen, there's a breed of women who admit to preying only on married men.
Going for the Gold Ring
There are two types of women who become involved with married men.
The first are women who are led to believe the man is single only to find out he's married with children after they begin dating. However, choosing to continue the relationship even after this revelation makes these women affair-seekers in their own right.
The second group of women don't play innocent to the fact that their man is married -- they go after the guys with gold on the ring finger. Ruth Houston, an infidelity expert and author of "Is He Cheating on You; 820 Tell Tale Signs," likens affair-seeking women to hunters going after prey.
"Women will purposefully go after married men for ego-embellishment reasons. It makes them feel more important," Houston told ABC News. "Look at how attractive and sexy I am that I can take this man away from his wife, or they may truly feel that they are a better match for the man than the wife is."
The Single Woman-Married Man Syndrome
Richard Tuch says this type of behavior is actually a syndrome, something he's seen repeated time and time again in his 25 years of practice. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst is the author of "The Single Woman-Married Man Syndrome," in which he characterizes the serial seeking of married men.
"It's a repetitive, recognizable pattern of behaviors that seem to repeat from affair to affair," Tuch told ABC News.
The behaviors were so similar among clients that Tuch anticipated their next move. He says affairs like these take place in a predictable sort of way. But are his patients treatable? Tuch says not really.
"It's hard to treat because the women don't recognize it as a symptom. They're so swept up in the reality of their loves that despite everyone around the woman knowing it's wrong, the woman doesn't because she's swept up emotionally," Tuch said.
Internet Fuels Seeker's Fire
Those who don't seek counseling in Tuch's Los Angeles office often seek comfort and help online.
The Internet is quickly becoming the favored medium for affair-seekers to find prospective lovers. Web sites like www.soulmateslive.com, an online adult dating and personals community, allow members to browse "affair-seekers" as one of their search options. Houston says these sites make it easier to find a love interest than 20 years ago when people had to physically go out to meet men.
"You've got sites that cater to married men and women who want to have affairs, so you have a ready market," Houston said. "At the click of a mouse, you have access to thousands of men who are willing to have an affair with you despite the fact that they're married."
Other sites provide a forum for conversation and confession for both seekers and those being sought.
On one board, "I'm in Love with a Married Man," affair-seekers open up about their relationships and seek the advice of others just like them.
"I had a 2 year relationship with a married man a few years back," wrote one poster. "I asked myself why I felt the need to date married men. The truth is, I only fall for unavailable men."
Others aren't looking for advice, they're dishing it out -- giving step-by-step instructions on how to steal a married man away from his wife. A blogger with the user name Lindseyh Stell writes that timing and venue are two of the biggest challenges to dating a married man.
"Timing is an important aspect of dating married men. The key to finding your perfect married man is looking for a man who has been married between four and seven years," she writes. "It is always important to find the perfect venue for your rendezvous. The most important thing is to avoid his wife, children, family and friends."
Another post by Ceekai Woodley said that dating a married man wasn't a challenge, merely an inconvenience.
"The first inconvenience, of course, is his wife. This territorial and assuming creature will no doubt cause you some heartache. She is best ignored," wrote Woodley. "Encourage him to forget family commitments, special dates, anniversaries and the like. After all, he doesn't really love her does he? Not like he loves you."
Wife vs. Mistress
The hope for something more is what keeps affair-seeking women involved in relationships with married men. The thrill of the chase and desire for competition encourages women who date married men.
"They target married men because they're classically unavailable and they're interested to see if they can make the unavailable man an available man," said Tuch. "If they can convert him from someone who doesn't want to leave his wife to someone who would -- for her, there's a triumph."
But Tuch says there's rarely a triumph. The hope that a married man will leave his wife for the affair-seeker is bleak.
"The hope for validation almost never happens, but it inspires the woman to keep hanging in. It's throwing the good money after the bad, she keeps hanging in," said Tuch. "That time when the man leaves his wife will never come."
Houston, a victim of a cheating husband, says a good marriage is no guarantee for fidelity.
"Men will cheat because their marriage is so good they feel that nothing they do outside of that marriage will have a negative effect on it," she said.
She said Schuster's response to Lane's e-mails was warranted.
"If it was clear that [Lane] was chasing after her husband, then yes it was a very good move to say forget it, we have a very good relationship and you're not going to ruin it," said Houston.
Houston's marriage ended in divorce after an affair-seeker -- and friend -- sought her husband.
In the end, Houston found solace in a chance meeting with her husband's affair-seeker.
"I ran into one of the women and I never really mentioned to her that I know about [the affair]," she said. "I said 'By the way, I recently wrote a book about infidelity.' I gave her a promotional card for my book and said, 'You might recognize yourself in it.'"