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In the end, we agree to part and she wishes me luck and assures me I'll find the perfect paramour. This was like having a meeting with a new accountant with a helping of self-disgust thrown in.

Suddenly the realisation of how odd it is to meet a stranger with the express intention of having an affair dawns on me. It's more like Alan Sugar interviewing an apprentice.

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. 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.

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 41-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.