Why betrayed Chinese wives pay big bucks to make their ‘other woman’ disappear
by Tracy Moore
Hell hath no fury like a woman who would like her husband to stop screwing around. Rising divorce rates, combined with continued financial inequality and stigma for divorced women, has led to a booming “mistress dispeller” business in China, where betrayed women allegedly pay up to $150,000 to make their dude walk the straight and narrow again, and the tactics used to dispel the mistress read more like covert ops from a lurid novel than a real-life practice. Best part? The wife uses her husband’s money to foot the bill.
Author Jiayang Fan interviewed one such mistress dispeller, Yu Ruojian, for a recent New Yorker profile on the trend, to shed light on the practice. In China, the mistresses are called “Little Thirds,” an identifier that can mean a fling or a long-term mistress, and the methods used to get them out of the picture are absolutely sinister. Fan writes:
Mistress dispellers use a variety of methods. Some Little Thirds can be paid off or discouraged by hearing unwelcome details of their lovers’ lives — debts, say, or responsibility for an elderly parent — or shamed with notes sent to friends and family. If the dispeller or the client is well connected, a Little Third may suddenly find that her job requires her to move to another city. A female dispeller sometimes seeks to become a confidante, in order to advise the targeted woman that the liaison will inevitably crumble. In certain cases, a male mistress dispeller may even seduce the woman. Like all the mistress dispellers I spoke to, Yu said that he never resorts to this tactic, but he acknowledged that there are those who do.
One of Ruojian’s anecdotes involved being hired by a woman whose husband had been cheating for years with a woman who ran a sex toy shop. When the wife discovered her husband had dropped some $30,000 on the mistress — and not their retirement — she’d had enough. She paid Ruojian to get rid of her. So he befriended the mistress, and he soon became chummy enough with her to convince her to take a trip to Shangai for sightseeing. While there, he managed to snap a few pictures of the two of them in friendly poses. Though he says nothing romantic had happened between them, the photos were incriminating-looking enough to spark a jealousy so intense in the husband she was cheating with, that he immediately dumped her returned to his grateful, loyal wife. It took about four months of work.
The company Ruojiang works for — the Weiqing Group — calls itself a “love hospital,” which has been around for 16 years and claims to save marriages at any cost. Its existence and success undermines the notion that such affairs are always tolerated and expected, which Fan attributes to a kind of perfect storm of social change. China’s divorce rate has now doubled, and adultery is the main reason (this is also the top reason for divorce in France, another country where an assumption of common infidelity is not entirely accurate.)
Since women in China still don’t fare as well in divorce as men, they’re more committed to staying in marriages than leaving them. Using a cheating husband’s money to get him back signals that even wives have their limits, and that no one here is above playing dirty to get what they want. (It is ironic that the only person in this story of infidelity who comes out looking innocent is the mistress.)
Weiqing Group’s tactics offer a satisfying resolution to our appetite for justice, underscoring our most deeply held notions about marriages, infidelity and revenge—and how they should play out in the court of public opinion. We hold the institution of marriage in the highest regard no matter the quality of that marriage. We view betrayed husbands as bad dogs simply in need of rehab. Betrayed wives are innocent saints; the other woman, a scourge who deserves every last karmic comeuppance headed her way.
The wives who pay to orchestrate these conclusions are effectively paying for the sort of outcome that would normally happen in a very public, high-profile affair—only in private. Bill and Hillary Clinton are still respectably together, for instance, but Monica Lewinsky’s life was satisfyingly destroyed, as she was ultimately forced to leave her work and home and move to England to escape the public wrath…