The word ‘illicit’ in this name of this dating site means just that – this is a dating service aimed specifically at married men and women who are looking for some discreet extra-marital sexual activity. Cheaters and liars? Perhaps. But the type of person who signs up to IllicitEncounters seems not to be looking to escape their marriage, but rather to enhance it by finding some adventure elsewhere and bringing the positive benefits of that experience back into their domestic lives. If you look at the Testimonials section (and we’ll assume that these are written by real people) you will see many claims by married people that IllicitEncounters (or ‘IE’ for short) has actually saved their marriage. Many members seem to feel that their marriage has become a pleasant, but almost platonic friendship – the sexual tension and thrill have long since died. The happiness and excitement that they get from their particular illicit encounter, they claim, make them a better spouse and create a better life for both them and their family. Right or wrong, there is no doubt that IllicitEncounters is gaining great popularity in the UK and Ireland. The IE website is sophisticated and welcoming, with the slightly more mature style of a website that is aimed not at horny, single, party animals, but at people who have gone through the experience of marriage, reached a stage where they are missing something, and want to share their feelings and desires with people in a similar situation. Signing up is free and, as with many dating websites, has been made as quick and easy as possible. Not surprisingly, member confidentiality is a top priority. Joining is completely anonymous - no name or address is required, and any information you do enter, such as your email address, is completely confidential. A registration questionnaire allows you to enter your details such as the username and password of your choice, your email address and your country of residence. The remaining data relates to your physical appearance, hobbies, interests, like and dislikes etc. You can also provide some additional information about what type of person you would like to meet. After submitting your questionnaire, you will have to wait for the site moderators to approve your profile. This can take up to 24 hours but generally takes a lot less time than that, possibly just a few minutes. In the meantime, you can still browse other members’ profiles and read up on the various features of the service. As soon as your profile is approved, you’ll get a confirmation email. At that point your profile becomes visible to other members and you gain access to the site. Assuming you’ve opted, as I did, for the free standard membership, you can now browse profiles and photos, search on various criteria, and send flirts and winks to other members. The secretive, confidential nature of this site may put new members off from posting photos of themselves. However, the chances of success without a photo are slim. For this reason, the site allows you to password-protect your photos so that you can decide who gets to see your photo. There are some handy features available with the standard membership. You can click the “Show me my matches” button to get an instant summary of members in your area who match your criteria. Alternatively, if you’re too busy to visit the site regularly, you can ask the ‘Matchfinder’ tool to send you an email whenever a new member joins that meets your specifications. Another nifty feature is the Address Book which automatically displays a list of the members you’ve been flirting with or sending internal mails to. While the IE site is mainly aimed at getting you flirting and having encounters, there’s also, as I’ve said, a strong emphasis on secrecy and the site offers many tips on how to keep your illicit encounters discreet and, basically, how not to get caught! An IE Gold membership is also available. For men, there is a charge for this. For women, it’s free. The Gold membership gives you all the standard features plus unrestricted communication with other members and use of the site’s instant messaging tool. Payment for the Gold membership is made using the site’s secure and confidential billing system. When it lapses, you automatically revert back to the standard free membership. This is an appealing feature as many dating websites will continue auto-billing for an upgraded membership until you specifically cancel it. Many would criticise websites such as IllicitEncounters for encouraging people to cheat. However, we live in society that espouses (no pun intended!) freedom and the notion of supply and demand. And clearly, the demand for this particular niche dating service is considerable.
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