Alex Johnson


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It is a sentiment guaranteed to melt the coldest heart:

“Just when I thought I would never find my true love — you came along ...”

It is a greeting card, decorated with a depiction of purple flowers. Inside:

“My soul has been searching for you since I came into this world.

“All my life I have had this emptiness inside, like a part of me was missing and I was incomplete ...

“And now I can’t imagine my life without you ... Even if I have to share you.”

Even if I have to share you?

This, clearly, is not a card for the wife — not the sender’s wife, at least.

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In fact, it is specifically for anyone but the wife. Called “My Lover,” the card is one of 24 in the Secret Lover Collection, published by a former advertising executive in Bethesda, Md., named Cathy Gallagher. If you are having an extramarital affair, Secret Lover cards can make it an affair to remember.

Gallagher hit upon the idea a couple of years ago. Like most couples, she and her husband had friends whose marriages had been affected by extramarital affairs, with all their attendant “conflict and emotional intensity,” she said in an interview.

Secret Lover Collection
The Secret Lover Collection debuted to enormous curiosity at a national trade show this year. The Greeting Card Association says there’s nothing else like it.

“I’m thinking, ‘So how do these people communicate? It’s a secret love affair,’” Gallagher said. “So I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, what better can you do than give someone your sentiments in a greeting card? How special is that?’”

After two years of market research revealed an unfilled need, she said, the cards debuted to enormous curiosity this year at the annual National Stationery Show in New York.

Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the Greeting Card Association, a national trade group, confirmed that the collection was, indeed, unique.

“Ms. Gallagher thought she saw a specific niche there, and she’s going after that particular niche,” Miller said. “Whether or not it proves successful I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. ... It’s obviously a business decision on her end.”

How big a market?
Secret Lover claims on its Web site that its research shows that 60 percent of American men and 40 percent of women “are involved in or have been involved in an affair.”

The most recent surveys, by the National Opinion Research Center at Chicago University in 2002 and the Kinsey Institute in 1994, indicate that slightly less than a quarter of men and about 12 percent of women have strayed from their marriages. But public opinion experts caution that respondents have a strong incentive to lie, so Gallagher’s numbers could well be close to the truth.

Either way, that’s millions of ring-doffing would-be customers for Secret Lover. “It was unbelievable in terms of the numbers of people,” Gallagher said.

But it remains an open question whether Secret Lover can indeed profit from sin. While Gallagher is negotiating with retailers and says prospects are bright, some retailers have said they would avoid the line for fear of alienating their customers, while others have said their customers probably wouldn’t want to buy the cards in a public store.

The company’s e-commerce site did not open until this week, so sales figures there aren’t yet available, but Gallagher said that more than a million unique visitors had stopped by the home page since May and that e-mail sales were strong.

“The question for me then becomes does the promotion of such a Web site make adultery more acceptable,” said Dr. Trina E. Read, a Canadian sexologist and columnist. “I would guess not because even though a lot of people are doing it, there is still a huge negative societal connotation.”

unbelieveable....marrage should be respected........this is not cool in my eyes not 1 bit