Meet the Mistress Hunters

Meet the un­der­cover women who are trained to se­cretly save mar­riages.

CLEO (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

De­spite cou­ples hav­ing the fullest of hearts and the most in­no­cent of in­ten­tions on their wed­ding days, time and again, peo­ple cheat. Men cheat, women cheat, both part­ners cheat.

Re­cent statis­tics have even sug­gested that in a third of mar­riages, one or both part­ners will ad­mit to cheat­ing.

But a col­lec­tion of wronged wives in China are no longer ac­cept­ing that spousal in­fi­delity is part of life. A sur­pris­ing new trend has seen the rise of “mistress hunters”, women em­ployed

by wives as a way of putting an end to their hus­bands’ adul­ter­ous be­hav­iour. Di­vorce can often leave women pen­ni­less, and as it is still viewed in many cir­cles as a taboo, em­ploy­ing these pro­fes­sion­als can be seen as a prefer­able al­ter­na­tive.

Sub­tle prob­lem solv­ing

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ar­ti­cle in the South China Morn­ing Post, the birth of the “mistress hunter” move­ment goes hand-in-hand with the sharp rise of the num­ber of cou­ples fil­ing for di­vorce on the grounds of adul­tery.

Com­pa­nies of­fer the ser­vices in an at­tempt to catch out cheat­ing hus­bands, and thus, in the most round­about of ways, save mar­riages.

“Ev­ery year we save some 5,000 cou­ples,” the founder of one such com­pany, Weiqing, has claimed.

At these com­pa­nies, women are em­ployed and sent un­der­cover to cre­ate sit­u­a­tions in which they “ac­ci­den­tally” meet the cheat­ing hus­band’s mistress.

Once they gain her trust, the trained pro­fes­sion­als, also known as “af­fairs doc­tors” or “split­ting spe­cial­ists”, at­tempt to per­suade her to put an end to the af­fair. That’s on the calmer end of the scale.

On the more con­trived, dra­matic end, the LA Times re­ported one case where a male mistress hunter was em­ployed to rent an apart­ment down the hall from the mistress. Fake loan sharks were sent to the mistress’s house to de­mand money – and the male mistress hunter hap­pened to be around af­ter­wards with a bot­tle of wine and a sym­pa­thetic ear.

At the same time; the agency gave the wife a makeover and be­havioural coach­ing to make her “sound more ap­peal­ing”.

They have even been known to stage car ac­ci­dents to con­vince cheat­ing hus­bands to pity their jilted wives, and in the most ex­treme cases, mistresses have been beaten by a group of an­gry wives or pub­licly hu­mil­i­ated un­til they agree to break up with their lovers.

But will this be a ris­ing trend? Are the mo­tives of the women em­ploy­ing mistress hunters purely to save their mar­riages or to avoid the shame of di­vorce? Or could there be a more dis­turb­ing trend be­hind the ploy?

“In­fi­delity usu­ally hap­pens when the per­son or re­la­tion­ship is vul­ner­a­ble in some way...”

The prob­lem with mistress hunters

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Jieyu Liu, deputy di­rec­tor of the SOAS China In­sti­tute, this op­tion is really only avail­able to society’s elite. Con­sid­er­ing the price of a mistress hunter is ex­tremely ex­pen­sive – up to $150,000 – this would not be some­thing the av­er­age women would be able to af­ford. As for their mo­tives, sav­ing a mar­riages or trying to avoid a di­vorce could come sec­ond to win­ning a hefty di­vorce set­tle­ment.

“Maybe some women want to try to save their mar­riages, but oth­ers may be hir­ing mistress hunters as ev­i­dence to have bet­ter bar­gain­ing pow­ers dur­ing a le­gal dis­pute,” says Dr Liu. “Ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese mar­riage law, any­one who is the vic­tim dur­ing a di­vorce as a re­sult of an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair will be looked on more favourably by the judge.”

Sus­pi­cious spouses in Sin­ga­pore

Here in Sin­ga­pore, some sus­pi­cious spouses hire pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors to trail and nail their part­ners. But surely hir­ing a PI, whether to get dirt for the di­vorce courts, or as a gen­uine means of sav­ing a mar­riage, can’t be the best way to go about deal­ing with in­fi­delity? If you’re de­ter­mined not to get di­vorced, there must be a sim­pler way. Jes­sica Lamb, a psy­chother­a­pist and me­di­a­tor at Sin­ga­pore’s Re­la­tion­ship Mat­ters, says hir­ing de­tec­tives can be a way of re­as­sur­ing the per­son who’s been cheated on that they’re not going crazy.

“When a per­son dis­cov­ers that their part­ner is be­ing un­faith­ful, one of the hard­est as­pects to come to terms with is all the se­crets and lies that have been nec­es­sary to keep the af­fair going,” she says.

“Some­times, be­fore dis­cov­ery, peo­ple no­tice changes in their part­ner’s be­hav­iour. When the be­hav­iour is ques­tioned, they may dis­miss the ques­tion quickly or min­imise their wor­ries. In these sit­u­a­tions, a per­son may find them­selves feel­ing con­fused by their part­ner’s be­hav­iour but un­able to put their fin­ger on ex­actly what it is that’s both­er­ing them.

“They may find them­selves ques­tion­ing their own sense of re­al­ity and be­come hy­per-aware of their part­ner’s ac­tions. In such cases, they may feel that they are going crazy and need to re­gain control of them­selves. They may there­fore be tempted to hire a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor to set­tle their sus­pi­cions.”

But what’s the real is­sue?

But while hir­ing a mistress hunter can be an ef­fec­tive way of putting an af­fair to bed, with the wronged party never need­ing to ad­mit they ever knew about an af­fair, it’s not the health­i­est way of deal­ing with adul­tery. Jes­sica says that in or­der for re­la­tion­ships to heal, both part­ners need to face up to what has hap­pened.

“In­fi­delity usu­ally hap­pens when the per­son or

re­la­tion­ship is vul­ner­a­ble in some way,” she says. “It’s im­por­tant for the per­son who has gone out­side of the re­la­tion­ship to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their choices, face them­selves and their de­ci­sions and show gen­uine re­morse. Say­ing ‘sorry’ or ‘it was a mis­take’ or ‘I’ll never do it again’ is not enough as the hurt part­ner needs to feel that their part­ner really un­der­stands their pain and is going to stay and face it with them.”

Jes­sica says that rather than hir­ing a mistress hunter and brush­ing the un­faith­ful be­hav­iour un­der the car­pet, it’s im­por­tant to face it head on to­gether.

Col­lat­eral dam­age

“While it’s un­der­stand­able that some peo­ple feel they need time apart to clear their heads, to have a break from the emo­tional tur­moil or to test their feel­ings for each other, it is very im­por­tant for a cou­ple to spend time to­gether af­ter an af­fair,” she adds.

“They need to re-es­tab­lish safety in the re­la­tion­ship by be­ing open to talk­ing about feel­ings, ac­cept that they will be on an emo­tional roller­coaster for a while with good days and bad, try not to hurt each other more by say­ing un­kind things, make space for the hurt part­ner to ask ques­tions and for the af­fair part­ner to an­swer them truth­fully rather than trying to avoid telling ev­ery­thing for fear of hurt­ing them fur­ther.”

Al­though a small group of women in China might be opt­ing for the un­der­cover route, if you are ever fac­ing adul­tery, it’s prob­a­bly health­ier for your bank bal­ance – and peace of mind

– to leave the de­tec­tive work to Net­flix.

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