“Life is short. Have an affair.”
This is the catchy slogan of adultery website, Ashley Madison, the controversial online dating service owned by Noel Biderman, that pairs willing married men and married women with other like-minded partners seeking to engage in extramarital encounters. Although a divorced woman blindsided by infidelity in my own marriage, I maintain the concept is absolutely brilliant. Why? Ashley Madison provides an invaluable service to single women everywhere.
The question will always loom why people cheat. And, as a subset of that question, were they justified in doing so?
I am not here to debate the whys. I am here to justify the how.
I do not advocate cheating. I have witnessed firsthand the destruction infidelity causes a family, and I want no part. I have been at that cross road before, faced with the decision whether or not to continue seeing a married man. For me, there really was no decision. And as a divorcée, I have, on numerous occasions, been the recipient of married men’s advances. I have declined each time.
But I am not here to judge.
The decisions people make within the framework of marriage are complex. What people choose to do, the informed decisions they make, are personal matters. It’s when I am deprived of such choice, deceived, that I take issue.
For the past two years since my separation, my primary means of meeting men has been through online dating websites. Five months ago, I found myself seeing a married man I believed was divorced. He wove an intricate web of lies in order to secure a date, beginning with a fictitious online profile. Victimized by his ongoing deception, we dated a few times and slept together. When I discovered the truth and confronted him, he continued to lie.
After my experience, I am now better able to spot suspicious behavior. Just last week I received an email from a good-looking 48 year-old divorced business traveler from Chicago.
“I am in New York this week for work. I am taking over the NY market and would love to have dinner or drinks with you,” he wrote in a first email.
I thanked him for contacting me, and suggested we first chat on the phone. Hoop number one.
He agreed, and we exchanged phone numbers. I suggested he call first.
“Absolutely,” he emphasized, “we should make sure we connect before we schedule something.”
“How long have you been in NY?” he continued on.
He hadn't read my profile. A common occurrence. I list my city of residence as Manhattan for search purposes, but say in the very first sentence of my profile that I live in New Jersey. I explained where I live anyway.
“I am in LA and Chicago," he answered. "I am in NY for the week and may be taking over the office here.”
“Sounds exciting,” I mundanely offered. Done with the banter, I included my cell number.
Then began the texting.
“You up for a drink Thursday night?”
“I could be, but we need to speak on the phone first," I reminded. "Deal?”
“Yes,” he replied. But he never called. Hoop number one aborted.
Now this guy may very well be divorced and available. I have no information to prove otherwise. But if I am just a body, one not worthy of a quick call, I tend to get suspicious, and think perhaps our goals may not be aligned.
We never met. No harm, no foul.
But the point is, I shouldn’t have to worry these men are married. Yet, the reality is, I must.
Dating websites for single people are meant for… single people. Someone who is attached, and has intentions to deceive legitimate users of these sites, resultantly victimizing them, should satisfy such desires for infidelity elsewhere. Ashley Madison provides a forum for doing just that.
So, although I don’t espouse cheating, I applaud Noel Biderman's efforts to keep these people away from me.
My only gripe is that he needs to better advertise.