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