The truth about CHEATING; Why is it that more and more people are betraying their lover? Here, new author Nick Taussig unravels the web of lies.
WHEN Nick Taussig's girlfriend agreed to an open relationship, he thought he was living every man's dream. But far from enjoying no-strings sex with plenty women, it wrecked his relationship with the woman he loved.
Now he's written a book, based heavily on his own experiences of relationships, and the dominating theme is cheating.
It's a topical subject. Jude Law and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott are just a few of the men who have been publicly caught out over affairs while Rebecca Loos shot to notoriety after alleging she had enjoyed a fling with England captain David Beckham.
Infidelity is said to be on the increase, particularly among women. With more women now working, 'office' affairs are also on the rise and women's increasing financial independence means many are in no rush to get married.
Revelations of celebrity infidelity are a common occurrence while politicians generate more headlines with their bed-hopping antics than their policies.
But the whole structure of relationships also seems to have changed from that of previous generations.
Nick's parents have been married for 35 years but the closest he's come to commitment is a broken engagement.
Nick, 33, is single and enjoys the occasional fling. But he says that, like most men, he wants nothing more than to meet the love of his life so he can settle down for good.
The idea for this book, Love and Mayhem, came from the end of a tortuous relationship which left him depressed and heartbroken.
This book, his first, draws from his own less-than-rosy experience of love and gives a realistic version of modern life.
The book's main characters, Catherine Ramirez and Jack Stoltz, have a happy, passionate relationship until another man appears on the scene.
Catherine is a modern, liberated woman who has been promiscuous in the past but is taken with the awkward and shy Jack. Opposites attract, sparks fly and for the first time, Catherine decides to give monogamy a go. It's great for a while but when things start to go wrong they are both driven to be unfaithful.
Here Nick talks about some of the issues he examined while writing the book.
WHY ARE MORE WOMEN HAVING AFFAIRS?
WHILE affairs are becoming more common, it seems women are taking the lead. In a survey last year, almost two-thirds of wives admitted to cheating on their husband.
Nick said: "Affairs are becoming more common among women than men now and that's a real shift. Women are just so much more liberated now.
"There's a growing number of powerful, executive, middle-class women who don't want children and don't want relationships.
"Women are starting to behave in the way that men have behaved for millennia so that's having a big impact."
But rather than there being any sea-change in behaviour, Nick says we're all just becoming more honest.
He said: "I don't think that men are having more affairs, I think it's just that people are more likely to admit it now.
"A lot of the time we have affairs because there's the excitement of it, the fear of being caught. There are other reasons - it might be you need emotional fulfilment, maybe sex isn't good with your current partner - but a lot of it is fuelled by the feeling that it's something you shouldn't do."
HOW CAN YOU AVOID CHEATING AND BEING CHEATED ON?
MEN of ten claim an affair is purely about sex, but Nick says this is usually nonsense, with even the briefest fling happening because of an emotional, not a sexual, need.
He said: "Men are very hypocritical about this and claim it's only sex, but I don't buy that.
"When men stray there's an emotional need there. And it's not just about the physical act, there's other problems or needs not being met."
So one of the most important things to do is keep communicating with your partner. Admitting there are problems is the first step to addressing them.
Nick's top advice is to talk honestly about your problems together.
"Communication is a big thing, " he said. "I went to Relate relationship counselling with a girlfriend and it helped a lot. The talking cure is deemed to be the most successful way to help couples. In the book, the character of Jack is encouraged by his father, who is a psychiatrist, to keep talking to Catherine. It is a cliche but communication is vital."
If talking doesn't work, Nick says it's important to remember that some relationships just aren't meant to last.
He said: "People change. One thing the institution of marriage doesn't account for is that there's no guarantee you're going to change in accordance with your partner.
"You're both going to have different life experiences and that seems to be the major stumbling block to the success of most relationships.
"People are so restless and we're all constantly looking over our shoulder. Maybe it's part of the human condition that we always think there's something better out there.
"Modern society doesn't help."
DO MEN WANT MONOGAMY?
GUY Smight think they want freedom from their girlfriend or wife and look nostalgically back on their bachelorhood but Nick agrees with what research has been telling us for years - men in relationships live longer, are happier and healthier.
He said: "There are people who function really well on their own and have occasional flings. A lot of people are doing that these days which is great if it suits them.
"There are also fewer people in committed relationships which suggests that we are having more sexual partners.
"But this is not necessarily a good thing or even what most people want." Having extra lovers, mistresses or even wives is not the answer, according to Nick.
He insisted: "I don't think polygamy is viable. When you look at Mormon culture where there are men with five wives, it doesn't strike me as very credible.
"Even if you have an open relationship, where your partner knows you are going to see other people, it often just ends in misery."
He added: "The main female character in my book is based on a girlfriend I had. We tried to have an open relationship but it failed dismally. There's something in people that's very monogamous.
"However hard we try to be open about these things, as soon as one of you is with someone else there's always going to be conflict. Maybe that's because of how we're made. We function far better in family units."
According to Nick, the image of men as unfeeling and sexually obsessed is false, too.
He said: "Men are not nearly as tough as they make out. A lot of men do love reading about matters of the heart and men and women do have the same ideal, that loving one person for years is a beautiful idea.
"Men won't read books like Barbara Cartland but they often are romantic and do like a love story like The Constant Gardener."
Being a bit of a romantic, Nick hopes his own story will have a happy ending.
He said: "Personally, I think it would be very nice to meet someone I can envisage spending years with instead of months."
Love and Mayhem is published by Revolver, priced pounds 7. 99
'May be it's part of being human that we always think there's something better out t here'
RUINED LOVE: Nick Taussig based his book on a broken relationship' HOT: Illicit equals exciting' RECIPE FOR TROUBLE: Although men and women will stray, it's human nature to want to be part of a family unit. Nick explores the theme in his book, right PICTURE: PHANIEAGENCY / REX FEATURES' BUSY: Offices can be hotbeds for flings' PICTURE: PHANIEAGENCY /REX FEATURES PICTURE: RETNA