Reading it on my laptop in the aptly named Cafe Affaire in central London, I consider what she really wants: What I don't know is how her husband will feel about it. Scroll down for more Aside from the little matter of her marital status, she also believes I have a wife, but she doesn't care. She wants instant gratification even though we've exchanged only a few words online. But in the modern world, in which the internet has become a vehicle for all manner of impropriety, she regards this kind of behaviour as perfectly acceptable.
We have encountered one another via an internet dating service established for the sole purpose of enabling married people to commit adultery. It may sound like an unpleasant niche website for a handful of amoral people to whom wedding vows never meant very much. But it claims to have more than , members in the UK. Many of them are middle-class, many have young children. And all of them are looking for an opportunity to betray their spouses.
As a single man, I don't qualify. But I wanted to find out what sort of woman uses such a site. They are allowed to sign up for free as a way of ensuring the numbers are balanced between the sexes. I register, and enter the murky world of two-timing technology, taking note of the warning on the site: I wonder if anyone has ever read this, seen the wisdom of it and decided not to join.
I create my online "profile". Your picture can be viewed only if you give a password to the person with whom you are conversing. The idea is presumably to safeguard people from searching for their own spouses on the site - though how a husband would explain to his errant wife how he came to stumble across her picture on a website for adulterers, I don't know. In order to fit in with the general ethos of the website I have invented a wife.
Our relationship, I note, has suffered because we don't spend enough time together not surprising really, since she doesn't exist. After a quick search, I get the measure of the women on the site.
Must be solvent," are also commonplace. It's not long before I receive a "virtual kiss". This is a way of paying someone a compliment without typing out the words. It's the cyber equivalent of a wolf whistle. And over the course of a week I get almost replies, messages and propositions. I'm surprised and unsettled by the forward tone of some of the material. One woman sends me a message heavily laden with sexual innuendo and I come to regard her as the mistress of the single entendre.
Determined to avoid the connotations, I reply: Another woman's first contact with me included a plan for a day out together, including visits to art galleries, a stroll round a park and then "a few hours under the duvet". I didn't even know her name.
I'm later propositioned by someone who tells me she has an hourglass figure. Her photograph reveals that the hour has stretched to 90 minutes. I'm already starting to feel like I've had enough of this experiment. But if I'm going to find out what really makes these women tick, I need to leave the safety of the virtual world and see them for myself.
I arrange to meet a year-old mother of two who misses "romance and flirting", in a cafe in two days' time. She has declined to tell me her name, so I have to think of her as her web sobriquet. This is how I find myself waiting for "Sophia Loren".
She seems rather on edge and sends me a text message at the time we're due to meet asking why I'm using the website. I reply, telling her to come over and ask me face to face. She turns up, a blonde with lipstick on her teeth. She looks furtively around and asks me if I'm nervous. I say that if she stops twitching, I'll calm down. There is tension in the air like North and South Korea coming together to hammer out a treaty.
Suddenly the realisation of how odd it is to meet a stranger with the express intention of having an affair dawns on me. Romeo and Juliet it is not. It's more like Alan Sugar interviewing an apprentice. But she is an old hand at this type of encounter and tells me she's met many men through the site, and that I was probably the only one who hadn't lied about my age. After discussing how mundane marriages become and avoiding questions about my personal life, it's clear we're past our sell-by date after ten minutes, never mind ten years.
There is zero chemistry. She doesn't want to discuss her husband, and I feel uneasy talking to her. Despite this, she still seems keen to flirt with me.
In the end, we agree to part and she wishes me luck and assures me I'll find the perfect paramour. So much for raging passion. This was like having a meeting with a new accountant with a helping of self-disgust thrown in. Later on I'm perplexed when she sends me two flirty text messages. Reading between the lines, I suspect she wants to meet again. Sadly, I feel I have got all I want out of our brief relationship - two cups of coffee and a short conversation - and it's time to move on and find someone new.
I feel sorry for her husband, presumably unaware that the mother of his children is pursuing cheap thrills with strangers. By now, I have been contacted by scores of women, so I arrange dates with the ones who are prepared to meet me in the next few days.
Jane is far more easy-going. Blonde, slim and relaxed, she has already told me by email that she's been married for ten years, has young children, time on her hands and wants to add a frisson of excitement to her life.
We meet at a restaurant in central London, and I am waiting at the table when she arrives. I stand up and we kiss on the cheek. She tells me without blinking that she has had one affair with a family friend and, although it didn't end badly, her appetite for adultery remains undimmed. We spend an afternoon over lunch with a bottle of wine, and it's clear she is a relatively sophisticated woman. Though she declines to tell me what she does, she is evidently well informed and intelligent.
It's easy to forget she's married, and the ring on her finger is the only reminder. Jane tells me she was attracted to me because she had been put off by the directness of the other men who've contacted her - she gets hundreds of messages a week. At the end of our lunch, she tells me she'd like to see me again.
I say I have to go, and she tells me she's sorry we have to leave it there. She then fixes me with a gaze and says she wishes we could go elsewhere. I find myself thinking that if we did go to a hotel, if we undressed and went to bed, she would still return to her husband and children and the life she seems to find so unsatisfactory. How bleak and depressing. That night I'm back in front of the computer looking for my next date.
So many women are eager to tell me they're "stuck in a rut" or "want someone to make them feel alive again". I find it amazing how many of them are willing to meet me after exchanging only a few messages.
I could be a serial killer and they would be none the wiser. Five married women send their mobile phone numbers to me without me even asking, disregarding the dangers. All I would have to do is ring at the wrong time to cause marital pandemonium.
A few offer little by way of enticement: It is striking that most of these woman have no interest in my domestic situation. They ignore the existence of my fictitious wife. They don't care that they are helping me cheat on her. In fact, they're encouraging it. So much for the sisterhood. Only one profile I came across shows any concern. In it she cautions: It is a stab at morality, but it rings hollow, given that the whole point of what she's doing is deciding whether to meet a married man and cheat on her husband with him.
A few of my potential dalliances are cut short. Some days later, I've arranged to have another secret assignation, this time in a pub. Sue is keen to meet, and one early evening, this dark-haired, buxom year-old takes the opportunity to go behind her husband's back and meet a strange man.
Sue, whose internet photograph was probably taken a decade ago, sits simpering across the table. She gulps her wine down within minutes of me buying it, and looks up expectantly. She talks about her career as a scientist in a hospital and then tells me she loves her husband of nine years, doesn't want to leave him, but wants me to add some sparkle to her life. Like the other dates I've had, she is reluctant to discuss her personal circumstances. We do not dwell on the fact she is married.
At one point, we're approached by a couple who ask politely whether they can sit on the two vacant seats at our table.