‘Christmas and New Year are the most stressful times for a relationship and parties act as a place to blow of steam and get away from it all.

‘Cabin fever coupled with cold weather can often act as the main catalyst. It’s big events like the work Christmas party, with its dark corners and the buzz of everything going on, that provides the perfect environment for people to slink away to discrete areas and get away with lewd behaviour.’

Getting caught out

In fact, heavy petting and lewd behaviour at the office Christmas Party was found to be the most likely cause for disciplinary action or dismissal over the festive period according to a recent survey by Illicit Encounters.

One in 10 workers surveyed knew of someone from their organisation who had been disciplined or sacked for inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas work do. Almost half (43 per cent) said the reason was ‘over-amorous activity’ which included heavy petting with other staff members, unorthodox use of the office photocopier, and making a pass at the boss.

Other reasons for disciplinary action were fighting (20 per cent), threatening behaviour (14 per cent), sexual harassment (12 per cent), bullying (7 per cent) and other forms of discrimination (4 per cent).

We spoke to a few guilty parties…

The cheating female

Suzie (name changed), 39, describes her experiences:

‘I have a husband and two young kids, I’m settled and content. Just horrendously bored.

I first got that rush when I locked lips in a dark corner of the Christmas party with another openly unhappily married colleague. In one sense it was a mistake; it risked everything. But, boy was it exciting! We carried out (what I hope was) a discrete relationship that lasted a few months but then he panicked and decided we shouldn’t see each other anymore.

I understood, I still got and get that fear. After this liaison ended I decided to join Illicit Encounters in March 2011, where I’ve been flirting online ever since. I’ve met up with a few guys on there, one of which I’ve taken a particular shine to and have been seeing since June.

He’s married too, I try not to think about his wife as I do feel a tad guilty. He’s a lovely man and he’s got my heart racing again – it makes me feel like a naughty teenager.

I do love my husband, I have no intention of leaving him but he has no sexual drive while I still have needs and desires – it’s so great to feel sexy again, for so long I felt undesired and unattractive. I feel I made this decision in order to not split up my family, which, of course, would affect my kids greatly.

I’m not saying what I do is right, but in my opinion it’s just the lesser of two evils; I’m discreet and I doubt I’ll get caught out. I love my life now and get my fun and excitement from all aspects of my life. It sometimes keeps me awake at night but cheating makes me feel alive, and I guess I’ve got last year’s Christmas party to thank for that.’

The cheating male

Sean (name changed), 37, describes his experiences:

‘I never thought I’d cheat. I guess I still don’t see myself as a cheater – those are hurtful people. I don’t see myself like that. If my wife found out it’d cut me up.

We’ve been married for 12 years and I deeply love her and my three children. She’s my best friend but the sexual side of our relationship is limping. I’m a Christian and so is my wife. Before we were married we were both virgins and sex wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until our wedding night that I realised how sexually incompatible we were and that things would never be right. Sex now occurs occasionally but it’s complex and neither of us are able to relax.

I know it sounds like an odd choice but I decided that my New Year’s resolution was to do something about my sexual unhappiness: I decided that ‘you only live once’.

I’ve been seeing a particular woman for a while since signing up to the site at the beginning of last year and she does make me very happy – while my wife is kind, honest and reliable, my lover is sexy, funny and exciting. As I’ve got older I’ve come to terms with the fact that maybe there isn’t only one person for everyone and that we can’t be wholly compatible with the partner we choose.’