There is a chance I am going to be outed. So, today I am outing myself. Here goes.
I had a profile on the recently hacked site, Ashley Madison.
Wait a minute, you are probably thinking, isn’t that a site for married people who are looking to cheat on their spouses?
It is. But not always. What you may not realize is there are single people on Ashley Madison, too.
I was one of them. Until I changed my status to “married,” even though I was officially divorced for over a year.
Once I made the change, traffic picked up tremendously for me. Which is exactly what I suspected would happen. On a site that strives to pair married people together for purposes of having an affair, cheating seems a safer bet if both parties have skin in the game or, as I like to think of it, something to lose. Hopefully.
But why would a single person who is free to date other singles venture into a land so bereft of scruples?
With a photo of me shot from the knee down wearing only a pair of four-and-a-half-inch red Jimmy Choo heels, I was determined to find out.
As the emails poured in, I simultaneously scoured the site for my partner in… whatever.
That’s when I found him.
There he stood, iPhone in hand, showing off his ripped abs in a selfie. Even more intriguing was his bio in which he described himself as Weapons of Mass Pleasure. The best part? He was single (though he later changed his status to married).
Seriously? Was this guy for real?
There was only one way to know for sure.
Of all the emails I received, emails men paid to send to me, I initiated just one. (Yes, chivalry, though forcibly imposed, still exists on Ashley Madison where only guys are required to pay for usage)
Getting straight to the point, I told Weapons I found him handsome.
He agreed, writing back, “Handsome, yes that and more.”
Then he followed with the rest of this canned response:
“I am always fun. Tall (6’1”), very fit bodied (170 lbs), handsome, well-endowed and blue eyes. Great kisser, really, I am. Successful, well-educated professional working and living (alone) in NYC. Married, but separated. Seeking a woman with a desire to explore sexually and find pleasure in others. If you are interested, please say hello.”
Despite the obvious cut and paste (I had already said hello), I remained intrigued.
I believed I had found my test subject. Now all I needed was a date so I could talk to this guy face to face.
Our conversation on the site quickly moved to my personal email. A fake email, of course, with a fake name. I know, ridiculous in this day and age when an IP address is no different from a calling card.
Weapons, who later introduced himself to me as “John,” asked for a photo.
I stalled, first asking him exactly what he was looking for (in a “relationship”).
“I am looking for a discreet relationship with a woman who stimulates me mentally and physically,” he expounded. “A woman with an open mind to explore each other’s fantasies without judgment. Social interaction would be great, but not required.”
I didn’t respond right away, and a few hours later he emailed again to ask if his reply turned me off. I answered a flat, “No.”
To which he coyly responded, “Pic plz:).”
After hemming and hawing some more, I finally told him I could not send a picture for “obvious reasons,” implying I was afraid my husband would find out. Of course, in reality, I had no husband.
Not only did that not dissuade him, he pursued me harder.
At his request, I gave a brief physical description of myself in place of a picture. It was apparently to his liking, and we made a plan to meet in a bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
On the day of our meeting, I met with a girlfriend for lunch and told her about my upcoming “date,” though I kept the most pertinent details to myself.
After lunch, I began making my way uptown to see him.
But about 20 minutes before our tryst, he texted and canceled.
Over the next few weeks, we tried to find another opportunity to get together.
It never happened.
Around the same time, I met a man who I began dating exclusively. Meeting “John,” even if my intention was only to speak with him and write about the experience afterward, no longer felt right.
Looking back, I now think it odd how two “single” people almost came together on a dating site geared toward married people looking to cheat.
Why not simply go on Match? There are certainly enough married people on that site. I know. I unwittingly dated one of them and have been approached by many more.
Though my original experiment was a bust, I learned something else in the process − how much more desirable someone becomes once that person is perceived as forbidden fruit. It seems we always want what we cannot, or should not, have.
The sad part is, I did not need Ashley Madison to teach me that. After my marriage ended (precipitated and expedited by my husband’s affair with a single woman), all I ever had to do was show up for Back to School Night, attend a neighborhood party, or simply answer my phone to understand exactly how desirable I have actually become.
If Ashley Madison’s hackers, who call themselves The Impact Team, are expecting to curtail the incidence of cheating by making terrorist-like threats to have the site taken down, I am afraid they will be sorely disappointed. Infidelity is the most insidious and irrepressible kind of terrorism − if only because it is homegrown.
What has your experience with infidelity taught you?