real Life: honeytrap
Would you hire a private investigator if you suspected your partner was cheating on you? Apparently, it’s becoming the norm.
There’s just something about Christmas, isn’t there? Cosy fires, mulled wine and a ‘frisky’ feeling in the air. Then there’s the office Christmas party. It’s talked about for weeks and there’s often someone you’ve thought of underneath the mistletoe, even if you’re already in a couple.
A 2014 survey revealed that a staggering 33 per cent of men in a relationship confessed to starting an affair with a co-worker at a Christmas party, while 25 per cent of women admitted a male colleague had made a pass at them that night. Not comfortable reading if you have suspicions about a partner’s fidelity, but there is one way to be sure. More millennials than ever are now turning to private investigators or ‘honey-trappers’, who target suspected cheats and report back to their partners.
‘There’s always action around major holidays,’ says Cat, a licensed private investigator and founder of The Townsend Detective Agency in New York.
Honey-trapping can be an expensive business, with fees widely varying between agencies.
‘We offer a full service, which starts at £140,’ says Rachel Myers, 48, who started her business Love Clarity (love-clarity.com) after her own experience with a cheating partner. ‘That includes full profiling and engaging with them to discover whether they’ll cheat. In our experience, those who cheat at a Christmas do are husbands or wives who don’t have much freedom in everyday life. The big build-up to the party adds to it, too.’
It’s something Amy, 27, a PR consultant from Leeds knows all about after hiring a honeytrapper last December, when she suspected her partner Alex was having an affair with a colleague. ‘He was being unusually distant with me and working late a lot,’ she says. ‘When I tried to talk to him about it he’d tell me I was being stupid. A friend suggested I hire a private detective, so I did some research. It took me a few days to decide to actually do it, but I really needed to know. His Christmas do was coming up, so I asked the agency to go along. The night following the party they confirmed that they’d tried to engage him in chat without much luck, but spotted him kissing a brunette woman. I was devastated, but also relieved to know. I confronted him about it and we split a week later. I’m in a much healthier, happier place now.’
So how does a honeytrapper go about catching someone in the act at a Christmas do? ‘I’ll put on a pair of reindeer antlers and mingle,’ says Cat. ‘I keep an eye on the person at a safe distance and follow if they nip off anywhere.’ But Love Clarity’s Rachel says it’s not for everyone. The most important part of her job, she says, is counselling her clients first, so they’re prepared in case of bad news. ‘One of the things we talk about is what they’ll do with the information,’ she explains. ‘I think it’s a sensible option for women who have suspicions – you don’t want to waste your time with someone who isn’t worth it. But you have to be ready to change your life once you know. We counsel clients beforehand, then report back to them every 48 hours during our work. We handle it very responsibly. You have to be sure you can deal with it.’ But Sarah Harrison, divorce coach and author of Uncoupling, isn’t a fan. ‘Hiring a private investigator to find out if your partner is cheating is a big step to take and already proves the trust is gone. If you don’t believe them when they deny being with someone else, you have to ask yourself whether you really want to spend your life with someone you don’t trust.’
I was devastated, but also relieved to know