“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.
Sweet Cicily says
I respectfully disgree that Ashley Madison should be applauded. I find it dispicable and have seen this specific website tear apart a marriage.
As far as married men on the other websites, they will always troll on them..websites like AM will not change this. It is terribly sad. Noel Biderman did not create this out of noble efforts, he is there to make money on the hidden sins and pain of others.
Love your blog, but definitely see this from a different stand point.
Stacey Freeman says
My article is intended as more of a tongue-in-cheek accolade. The intent of Ashley Madison is to pair like-minded individuals. I am legitimately single, and I don’t appreciate being duped (as I have been) by married men who pretend they are available. Unfortunately, infidelity is rampant and doesn’t appear to be making a departure from the lives of the unsuspecting married folk any time soon. My point is that Ashley Madison provides an alternative forum where these individuals can take their business elsewhere, so people like me, and you, are not unknowingly victimized. I do not support infidelity, nor profiting from it.
I appreciate the dissenting opinion. You raise a valid point.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
Mary McNamara says
Ashley Madison does not help create fair affairs. It helps married cheaters dupe their faithful spouses and spread things like HPV and herpes. Please don’t claim (even in a supposed tongue and cheek way) that AM is providing any kind of positive service on the planet. I’m all for couples choosing their owm form of commitment. I’m not a conservative, a prude, or a religious fundamentalist. If BOTH husband and wife agree to an open marriage, I say enjoy! But sneaking around and lying are just plain wrong. Both spouses deserve to know the state of their marriage. It is unjust, unfair, and dangerous to keep sexual secrets from our partners.
Stacey Freeman says
As someone who discovered infidelity in my own marriage, I agree with your assessment of infidelity. Now that I am single, I find it appalling that I still have to deal with this as I legitimately look for a partner. I am actually shocked at how commonplace cheating is. I won’t partake in such behavior. And, believe, me, I am often approached by married men in my search. I don’t advocate cheating, but I don’t think it is going to stop. Thank you for reading and voicing your opinion.
Stacey Freeman says
As someone who dealt with infidelity in my own marriage, I certainly don’t advocate sneaking around. But I don’t see this behavior going away, and I’m sick and tired of being approached by married men who are less than forthright about their situations. Once bitten, twice shy. Thank you for reading and voicing your opinion. Always respected and appreciated.
Stacey Freeman says
As someone who dealt with infidelity in my own marriage, I certainly don’t advocate sneaking around. I am, however, sick and tired of being solicited by married men who are less than forthright about their situations. Once bitten, twice shy. I don’t see this behavior going away, and if these people have a place to go, so to speak, then they should go. I have been in both positions, the unsuspecting wife and the unsuspecting date, and both places stink. Thanks for reading and voicing your opinion. Always respected and appreciated.
DivorcedMoms Editor says
ModernMatriarch, I agree with everything you say BUT just because you believe that lying is wrong or that both spouses deserve to know the state of their marriage doesn’t mean that is the reality of the world we live in. Faithful spouses are going to get duped with or without sites like Ashley Madison.
Infidelity has been around since the beginning of time and it is always go to be one of the many issues a married couple may face. I was the unwitting victim of a married man once. Didn’t find out he was married until I had become attached. After I found out he was married I had to live with the fact that I had spent time with someone else’s husband. Not easy to come to terms with!
I’m of the opinion that if someone is going to cheat they need to cheat with someone who is of the same mind and character. Since cheating is here to stay why not give the skanks and infidels somewhere to go so they can wallow in the mud together instead of victimizing honest women who are looking for open and honest relationships?
I don’t care for sites like Ashley Madison but they don’t encourage people to cheat. Cheaters are going to cheat with or without such sites. I feel it is more than FAIR to me, as a single woman that a cheater visit Ashley Madison rather than Match.com and victimize more than just their wives or husbands.
If it keeps lying, cheating men from responding to my profile or asking me out then they are offering a service that has a positive impact on my life.
Cathy Meyer says
ModernMatriarch, I agree with everything you say BUT just because you believe that lying is wrong or that both spouses deserve to know the state of their marriage doesn’t mean that is the reality of the world we live in. Faithful spouses are going to get duped with or without sites like Ashley Madison. Infidelity has been around since the beginning of time and it is always go to be one of the many issues a married couple may face. I was the unwitting victim of a married man once. Didn’t find out he was married until I had become attached. After I found out he was married I had to live with the fact that I had spent time with someone else’s husband. Not easy to come to terms with! I’m of the opinion that if someone is going to cheat they need to cheat with someone who is of the same mind and character. Since cheating is here to stay why not give the skanks and infidels somewhere to go so they can wallow in the mud together instead of victimizing honest women who are looking for open and honest relationships? I don’t care for sites like Ashley Madison but they don’t encourage people to cheat. Cheaters are going to cheat with or without such sites. I feel it is more than FAIR to me, as a single woman that a cheater visit Ashley Madison rather than Match.com and victimize more than just their wives or husbands. If it keeps lying, cheating men from responding to my profile or asking me out then they are offering a service that has a positive impact on my life.
Mary McNamara says
So, AM is an ok thing because it keeps SOME married men off the legitimate dating sites? I don’t buy it. First of all, many married men prefer to have affairs with unmarried women. They fear the possible violent repercussions of screwing another man’s wife. Sure there are unmarried women on AM, but if you read there, you will find that most are interested in a sugardaddy. Most married men would have a hard time hiding the fact that they are spending lots of unaccounted for money. Also, I definitely think AM has made having affairs much easier. It is a database for like-minded individuals. Much easier than trying to feel out a neighbor or co-worker to see if they are interested. There is no risk. Of course affairs are as ancient as dirt, but the prevelence has increased dramatically in the last 10 years due to social media and dating sites. Read the Rutger’s study done by the anthropolgy department if you don’t believe me. My attorney told me that 30% of his divorce clients last year claimed Facebook, Ashley Madison, or dating sites as contibuting factors to the demise of the marriage.
I think it is incredibly selfish to say that as long as less married men show up on Match because of AM, it is beneficial. We live in a civil society and should consider the health and well-being of everyone, not just ourselves.
One last thing; I find it incredibly easy to figure out the married ones on Match/Chemistry/etc. If the guy doesn’t show his face, is vague about his circumstances, or won’t call, I assume they are married. With google, whitepages.com, spokeo, and facebook, it takes 2 minutes to vet someone. Some of my girlfriends have considered targeting the married guys, getting incriminating info and outing them to their wives. It is a not a novel idea. Women all over the country are doing it to help other betrayed women and men and to scare cheaters away from using online resources to aid in their cheating.
Brenda Starr says
I get so sick of all the articles expressing outrage over AM. New flash. Not everyone on these sites are sleazy. Far, far from it.
The marriage license is not a free pass to disengage in sex with your partner. Sexual nurture, gratification is key to a man’s overall sense of well being. Don’t want your partner to cheat? Treat them with respect. Do not take to treating your partner like one of your children. Do not let yourself go. Do not imagine you are ‘owed’ because he stuck a ring on your finger when you did (joyfully) have sex with him, make time for him, do little things to get his attention. If you don’t… I will.
Stacey Freeman says
Agreed. I think Ashley Madison has its place. People are there for a reason. But when I date, I want to be able to make an informed decision. Ashley Madison is not the right choice for me personally. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Dan Stephens says
Though this post is almost a year old, I am chiming in as it was just Tweeted. Brenda is spot on that not everyone at Ashley Madison is sleazy. There are thousands of people at A.M. due to what is a sexless marriage. By definition, this is just once every 45 days! Sex is a natural thing and is an integral part of a marriage. If it does not exist or is barely present, the marriage is going to fall apart. It is that simple. As Brenda eloquently stated, “The marriage license is not a free pass to disengage in sex with your partner.”
Don’t want your partner to cheat? Communicate with your partner! Listen to what they have to say and act upon it. Google search information reveals that THE top marital complaint is about “sexless marriages”.
There were times I had no sex for two or three months, and when I had it, the sex was very vanilla. Can you guess what position? Yes – I was on top every damn time. There was no variety, and I had to be the dominant one 100% of the time. (Boring!) To make matters worse, it was in the dark almost every time. I could not look in to her eyes nor see her body reacting to what was happening. There was no intimacy in the quick sex sessions; it had become an obligation for me that did allow me to have an orgasm. Through the years, I tried to spice things up and increase the frequency with suggestions, online video examples, and with reputable printed sources on the subject. None of these attempts on my part resulted in a positive response. Most fell on deaf ears. As a good friend of mine said, I was in a “sexless hell.”
So, what is one to do if they have an uncooperative spouse? Divorce is extremely painful and very costly. This is why many head to Ashely Madison…and it is not just men! For many of these men and women, A.M. is just a continuation of the end of their marriage. Most likely, it will be a catalyst for divorce. I finally chose divorce.
In the United States, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages will end in divorce. A recent national survey found that the most common reason given for divorce was “lack of commitment” (73%). Not too far behind is “infidelity” (55%). Bad sex in a marriage is a huge problem. Do not blame Ashley Madison; the cause is a lack of sex and marriage education, and the prudish attitudes of society (sexual shame).
Stacey Freeman says
Thank you for your comments and the points you have made, which are all valid. I understand there are complex reasons why people cheat on their spouse. I think Ashley Madison provides a secure place for willing participants to do just that, whatever those reasons may be. Where I have a problem is when married people knowingly deceive others on dating sites meant for singles. For an affair to be fair, both participants must be willing and informed.
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