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ADULTERERS, cougars and sex kittens are big business in Ipswich.

The owner of four of the world's most controversial hook-up websites says more regional Australians are flocking to his services than their capital city counterparts.

But a relationship researcher warns the sites may break hearts and destroy families across the district.

Infidelity website AshleyMadison. com and CougarLife.com has experienced huge jumps in memberships over the past three years.

At 249.2%, Ipswich's AshleyMadison growth since 2013 was the second-highest in Australia.

CougarLife.com is a site that targets older women (known as cougars) who want younger male lovers.

It claims to have 3.3%, or 6205, of the region's residents on board and it experienced a membership rise of 295%.

At least 76 "young and beautiful" local women hoped to hook up with "rich and successful" Ipswich blokes on EstablishedMen.com.

Each website offers free membership with limited communication.

"Premium" membership costs about $144 a year and allows two-way messaging between members.

Avid Life Media chief executive Noel Biderman said the desire to find love crossed all social boundaries.

"Regardless of whether someone is from a major city or a regional area, there are people all over the world who are looking to find fulfilment and satisfaction by having affairs," the 44-year-old former lawyer said of his most popular website AshleyMadison.

"When the site first launched in Australia in 2010, most of our membership was concentrated around the major cities.

"We have now noticed a trend that smaller towns/areas are growing at a much faster rate than the larger cities."

Social psychologist Jason McIntyre said the growth of online dating websites could have a major impact on the region's families.

"The introduction of these websites will increase people's access to attractive and available partners and potentially increase rates of infidelity in regional areas," the University of Queensland researcher said.

"It's likely that the people going to these websites would simply go to a singles bar if they (the sites) didn't exist.

"But, these websites definitely increase people's chances of finding someone they would like to sleep with and consequently, they may increase infidelity rates, particularly in rural areas where opportunities to cheat have not been present."

BY THE NUMBERS

249.2% - Ipswich's female membership growth rate for infidelity website AshleyMadison.

295% - Ipswich's female membership growth rate for CougarLife.com.

6205 or 3.3% - the number and percentage of Ipswich's population signed onto CougarLife.com.

76 - the number of Ipswich women signed on to EstablishedMen.com.

188,047 - Ipswich's population

Source: Avid Life Media, ABS

POSITIVES and NEGATIVES

UQ researcher Jason McIntyre reveals the pros and cons of internet dating.

GOOD

  •  Go from a bad relationship to a good one.
  •  Finding someone with the qualities you like.
  •  Huge selection of people to choose from increases your chances of finding a desirable partner.

BAD

  •  Online communication lacks important information gleaned from things like body language.
  •  You can get trapped in the cycle of searching through hundreds of unsuitable people.
  •  Relationships can be harmed by websites that encourage infidelity.
  •  Internet dating and infidelity sites can lead to anger, sadness, self-doubt, depression, relationship stress and breakdown.

 



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