A secret romance should be a staple of British love lives, and fidelity and long-term exclusivity are like traps that make people "caged animals", a French-educated British social scientist has written in a new book.
Catherine Hakim, in her book "The New Rules of Marriage: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power", says a "sour" view of cheating has weakened British family life by prompting couples to divorce.
According to the Daily Mail, rather than having a rigid and unforgiving opinion on affairs, Britons should learn to be more liberal with their lovers, Hakim said.
The author said that a secret romance should be on a par with having dinner with your long-term partner.
Hakim advises married couples to look to the French for inspiration for successful relationships.
She says the French are "masters of seduction", have a "philosophical approach to adultery" and allow their partners off the marital leash.
Hakim, who works for think tank Centre for Policy Studies and is a former London School of Economics lecturer, says successful affairs are possible where neither partner is hurt.
"I am not saying that everybody should do it, and most people do not have affairs," Hakim said at BBC Radio 4 show "Woman's Hour".
"The key point is that we need to be more tolerant of them. Sometime they can ruin marriages, but if you take the view that most of them blow over and a good marriage is still a good marriage we should be a bit more laid back about them like the French, Italians and Spanish."
"The temptation is always there for everyone. Total discretion is the absolute rule, the other party should never find out," she said.