by Justin Rocket Silverman, REDBOOK
A third of the cheating website's members are women. Our male reporter met up with one of them.
It's not easy to meet a married woman on Ashley Madison. I learn this after dropping $20 to sign up (unlike female members, guys have to pay) and then another $150 on "credits" that I use to send messages to women on the site.
I am honest enough: single guy, (mostly) normal, (mostly) open.
I get zero responses. Turns out, the bulk of women on the site are looking only for cybersex, wanting to fill an emotional void.
Then the message finally comes: L., 42, an attractive mother of two. She's slightly older than many of the women on Ashley Madison - the average age of female members is 35 - and is atypical in the fact that she prefers single men. (She tried dating some of the married men but found them too paranoid. She also likes that unattached guys have apartments to go to instead of hotel rooms.)
She tells me she has "no clue" what she's looking for, just that it's not a committed relationship and it's not a one-night stand. But she doesn't want there to be any confusion about the future.
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"Nobody was ever going to be better with my kids than my husband," she tells me over coffee after work. It's her idea to meet at Starbucks. She doesn't like bars, she explains. After more than a year of cheating on her husband with several partners, she wants to judge me with a clear head.
"I could trade him in for another guy," she goes on about her husband, "but that guy wouldn't be the father of my children."
Despite this, L. has no interest in sleeping with her husband anymore. He lied to her about money until it destroyed their relationship, and she gets visibly pained talking about it. But she isn't ready to clamp on a chastity belt. Enter Ashley Madison.
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"I'm not looking to marry you," she says. "So I don't care if you're messy or watch sports all day. I'm not your wife."
With those words, I get a glimpse of what L.'s looking for: She wants a break. Not just from her husband but from the person she becomes when she's with him. She wants to get back at him without hurting her kids. She wants to flirt and feel sexy.
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I find myself feeling sorry for her. I suspect she wishes that her husband wasn't a jerk. I suspect she doesn't like trolling a site for guys who live in bachelor pads with bare walls.
When she tries to kiss me, I turn my cheek, give her a hug, and say bye.
A few days later I get an email from L. saying she would like to meet again. I tell her it was nice meeting her but that Ashley Madison just isn't for me.
And I never hear from her again.
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