“Life is short. Have an affair,” says social networking service Ashley Madison. Since its launch in 2001, the site has grown to more than 21 million members in 30 countries, with most new members signing up around New Year’s Eve.
The site’s CEO, Noel Biderman of Toronto, told Los Angeles’ KTLA Channel 5 that the company “preserves more marriages than we break up.” Biderman—a former attorney, sports agent and self-proclaimed happily married father of two—says that’s because the site saves the marriages of people in sexless marriages for whom breaking up is not an option.
Psychologists warn that the absence of sex in a marriage often leads to an affair, and sexless marriages are apparently more common than most couples are willing to admit. One study found that the average person has sex 103 times per year, but a recent survey estimated that 15 to 20 percent of couples have sexless relationships – defined by experts as making love fewer than ten times a year – while around 5 percent go without altogether.
But are all sexless marriages miserable? The UK’s “Daily Mail” interviewed three couples who say they never have sex but insist they’re happy. And there are some touching stories over at Reddit (of all places) by users opening up about their sexless marriages.
Sentiments like these are common: “It doesn’t take constant sex with [my wife] to fulfill my marriage, or for her to meet what my needs are at this point in my life,” “We don’t feel the need for a sexual relationship to prove we have a solid marriage. And I don’t worry that [my husband] will stray if I don’t make love to him – he’s too much of a gentleman for that.”
The “Los Angeles Times” reports that Biderman has been able to learn quite a bit about his clients, even if he doesn’t know their real names. Seventy percent are men, he says; among those who are “active” members, the male-to-female ratio is 1-1. The majority of the men, who tend to be in their late 30s to early 40s, are married. Interestingly, studies show that the more intelligent men are, the less likely they are to cheat.
The women, who skew a bit younger, fall into three categories: the suburban housewife “who is seeking validation of her desirability”; the “quintessential mistress” who is not interested in a family life but wants things like trips and dinners out; and women who’ve been married only a short time and suddenly wonder what they got themselves into.
Newsweek magazine has exposed a well-kept secret—the sex lives of American wives. They found that an estimated 15 percent of women cheat on their husbands (compared to 22% of men). Thus debunking the myth that the men are engaging in all of the extramarital activities.
One “quintessential mistress” told the Times that she’d just returned from a weekend in Vegas with a married man. “He has no desire to leave his family, and I have no desire for a commitment. So it’s ideal.”
And the service is easy to use: you sign in, create a personal ad and find other people looking for affairs. You store your photos in a secret area and give your preferred candidate a key to access them. The pricing model is not the time-based flat rate used by most dating agencies but a credit system in which you buy “credit packages” to pay for individual functions.
Certainly Ashley Madison isn’t going out of business anytime soon. As the old saying goes, “Once a cheat, always a cheat.”