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The Cheat Market

You spy a great woman online. Only problem: She’s already your girlfriend.

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As the New York Times recently announced on page A1 (only about two years late), online dating is no longer for “losers.com.” But cheaters love it, too.

Just ask dating coach David Wygant. He has one highly selective client he likes to call Princeton Boy. On Match.com, Princeton Boy finally met the Princeton Girl of his dreams, but as their otherwise delightful courtship progressed, he started to wonder about all the other girls’ e-mails he might be missing. So he went back to Match.com only to find that Princeton Girl was doing the very same thing. (To encourage chatting, the site indicates who’s online.) At 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday, he called Wygant in a weepy panic: “I thought we were having a good time!” The coach wasn’t surprised. “They get angry if the other person’s online,” he says, “but everyone’s looking to upgrade.”

In a city of perpetual upgraders, leaving one’s profile online well into a romance has become the equivalent of flirting at an after-work bar. “My boyfriend found my old date ad up and got mad,” says one grad student: “But, I mean, it’s like window shopping. It’s like SimSex.” Or “antiquing,” as Rachel, a music exec with a long-term boyfriend—and a very active Craigslist.org profile—puts it.

Of course, virtual busting is almost as easy as virtual cheating (and in a masochistic way, nearly as much fun). One suspicious financial consultant had her ex-husband (yes, that’s right) hack into her boyfriend’s computer only to find he was on everything from Friendster to JDate.

Other spouses set more elaborate traps. Stuart, a 31-year-old TV producer, created a fake profile on Craigslist that he knew would attract his boyfriend of ten years. Almost immediately, he got an e-mail from said boyfriend, complete with photo and invitation to drop by their apartment sometime. “He’s an ass,” says Stuart. “Of course, I’ve never confronted him about it because I’m totally cheating on Craigslist myself.”


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