Agnes Water one of Qld's online cheating hot spots

NEARLY 3000 Gladstone residents are looking to have affairs, and per capita Agnes Water is one of Queensland's online cheating hot spots.

The figures come from Ashley Madison, a dating site aimed at married and attached people.

Its motto is "Life is short. Have an affair".

While 5.8% of Gladstone residents - or about 2950 people - have accounts on the dating site, nearly 10% of Agnes Water residents - about 300 people - have signed up.

In comparison, the Ashley Madison figures show holiday hot spots including Byron Bay, 13.5%, and Noosa Heads, 13.1%, have some of the highest numbers on the site per capita.

In contrast, Ipswich is one of Queensland's most faithful areas with just 1.7% of the population on the website.

Agnes Water Tavern employee Terry Buckley was lost for words when she heard 10% of her fellow residents were keen to cheat on their partners.

"Everyone kind of knows everyone in town, which makes it interesting," she said.

Although Ms Buckley is a single woman herself, she said she would never sign up to Ashley Madison.

"I don't understand the point of it."

But University of the Sunshine Coast psychologist Dr Rachael Sharman said figures might not be all cheats, but people curious about who was using the site.

"It gives people that opportunity to browse or try before you buy," she said.

"If you strike up a conversation in a bar or somewhere that's it. You're out there.

"But online doesn't seem like that big leap for people.

"So the big numbers may be people just having a look."

Ashley Madison chief Noel Biderman said regional cities often had a higher per capita membership than in capital cities.

"We do see a slight increase in membership in the regionals, from a per capita basis," he said.

"Members who commute have additional stresses, related to the daily commute that can exacerbate a problematic marriage."

He said "affair partners" would often use work as an excuse - especially if they commuted.

However, Karen Marsh from Centacare, a relationship support service, said cheating was a "betrayal of trust" and often had severe impacts on relationships.

"If people say the affair helped their relationship, then what we often find is something is missing from that relationship," she said.

"For the person being cheated on it undermines that person's sense of self."

While Ashley Madison claim 80% of women on the site say affairs help their marriage, Dr Sharman said science disagreed.

"The studies, as well as conventional wisdom, say it just is not good for your relationship," she said.

"I'm sure there is always an exception, but you're going against probably one million years of evolution."


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