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Your LIFE: Cheat-proof your love life; RELATIONSHIPS IF EVEN THE BEST-LOOKING STARS CAN'T KEEP THEIR PARTNERS, FAITHFUL, WHAT CHANCE DO THE REST OF US HAVE? HERE'S HOW YOU CAN BOTH AVOID STRAYING.

Byline: BY MARIA GARLAND

EXTRA-MARITAL affairs appear to be ten-a-penny these days - and sadly it's never been easier to cheat.

Whether sending secret texts and emails, or joining dating agencies set up specifically for clandestine flings, the opportunities to play away from home appear endless.

Call us old-fashioned, but whatever happened to monogamy?

We asked Susan Quilliam, agony aunt and author of Staying Together (pounds 7.99, Vermillion) how to spot the warning signs.

"While it's possible for a relationship to survive an affair, it's far better to avoid one, as they cause a huge amount of hurt and pain to everybody involved," she says.

So are you or your partner tempted to stray? Here's how to to nip it in the bud....

BABY BLUES

"THIS is a common time for a man to feel restless," says Susan. Indeed, Darren Day walked out on his fiancee Suzanne Shaw, soon after the birth of their son Corey. His excuse? He just "didn't do family".

Suzanne's was an extreme case and Darren is hardly your regular man, but many decent men can feel neglected when a new baby arrives and feel tempted to stray.

"New motherhood is tough," says Susan, "But try to remember you're a wife or girlfriend too. Once you're able to, try to resume your sex life and make a fuss of him, not just the baby.

"You don't have to paste on a 50s housewife smile as he walks in the door, but try not to be miserable. If you're depressed or unhappy, speak to him. Men are solution-driven, so he'll want to do something about it and help you."

AT WORK

BRAD Pitt walked out on Jennifer Aniston after working with Angelina Jolie on Mr & Mrs Smith.

And on a less glamorous note, lots of affairs simmer over the photocopier.

In fact, a recent study from more! magazine went as far as to claim that six in 10 British women have cheated on their partner with a colleague and 75 per cent have considered it.

"Women returning to work after a baby are at particular risk," says Susan. "After months of being cooped up feeling undesired, it can be a huge ego boost to get some attention or flattery."

Zoe Ball admitted having a fling with DJ Dan Peppe when her son Woody was a toddler. Husband Norman Cook was devastated but said: "I still love her. She's genuinely remorseful."

Susan advises thinking long and hard before you give in to your office crush. "Are you tempted to stray because your relationship is in serious trouble or because you're bored?" she asks.

"Often women cheat because the new man makes them feel attractive, but it's important to remember that those feelings will fade."

ARE YOU FEELING IGNORED?

"MOST people cheat because they feel dissatisfied with their relationship and subconsciously want to get their partner's attention," says Susan.

Jude Law was said to be angry with fiancee Sienna Miller's busy work schedule and the couple rowed about it before his affair with his children's nanny Daisy Wright.

"You must make time for each other," says Susan. "Yes, life can get busy and hectic, but it's vital you make your partner central to your life to make them feel loved, appreciated and respected.

"Communication is vital - if you feel unhappy, tell him, don't mope around. Most men who write to me who have had affairs say their home life was miserable at the time of their infidelity.

"Be honest with each other, keep talking, listen to him and stay sexually and emotionally close. The closer you are, the stronger you are."

IS IT ABOUT LOOKS?

WHEN a woman is cheated on, she often blames her looks or a post-baby bulge.

"But in my years as an agony aunt, hundreds of men have written in confessing they've had affairs because they feel underappreciated or ignored," says Susan.

"But never has a man said he's had an affair because his partner was a stone overweight. Looks aren't as important as people assume when it comes to affairs."

Which could explain why Mick Jagger and Hugh Grant cheated on their gorgeous partners Jerry Hall and Liz Hurley.

"Obviously, if you completely let yourself go and put on a lot of weight, your relationship will suffer," says Susan. "But that's because this indicates you're depressed, which would have an impact on any relationship.

"For the most part, men don't cheat because of the way you look - they cheat because of the way you act, or because of things going on in the relationship they're unhappy with."

Visit Relate at www.relate.org.uk or call 0845 130 4016.

CAPTION(S):

CELEBRITY HEARTACHE: From left: Darren and Suzanne, Brad and Angelina, Zoe and Norman, Jude and Sienna Picture: ALAMY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:795
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