Life is Short, Have an Affair?

He that jokes, confesses. –Italian Proverb

Indiscretion is no longer discreet.  Gone are the days of clandestine meetings, sideways glances across an office, illicit gestures in a dark parking lot.  Now you can get those same thrills and more in your email box for only a $49 joining fee. It seems too ridiculous to be true, but this is what we have come to, a multi-million dollar cash cow of a business to make it easy for people to sign up online to meet their perfect affair.

So lucrative is the venture that the corporate slogan: “Life is short–have an affair” has been pasted on billboards and running in television advertising throughout the world. Yet, promoting the most hurtful betrayals that many people will face in their lifetime as the fun, spice of life is not always as easy as it looks. The company has fought unsuccessfully for the right to plaster the slogan on citywide transportation in its hometown of Toronto; even after they offered money to subsidize rider fares. Their offer was vetoed by five of the six members of the transportation committee, but not before the leader was found to have cheated on his longtime partner several times, ruining his run for mayor. Likewise, the NFL turned down an advertising bid during the coveted Super Bowl hours.

This same ambivalence about the rightness of their participation in the site’s offerings, runs through many of the close to 8 million members profiles which uses fake names and hides their photos behind a password protected firewall.  Some are brazen too, including photos on their pages and mostly unafraid to be found out. They feel justified, and few users don’t report any feelings of guilt about their participation. The seekers aren’t leaving their partners, who become entities, mostly reduced to pronouns in the course of their business on the site. Many members refer to themselves as honest, except for what they are engaging in at this moment.

“This is just a fact of life. Monogamy is not in our DNA,” says founder Neil Biederman, although he is married himself and says he would be devastated if he found his wife was employing his service. She has no qualms about the moral ramifications of her husband’s occupation: providing the material and platform for millions of affairs. For her, “It is just a business…” Biederman believes that the popularity of his site and by and large the nature and driving force behind affairs is sex, more specifically about not getting the sex that they want from their partners.

Yet a recent undercover Redbook report, discovered a much deeper and in some ways ironic truth about much of what is being sought out on Ashley Madison. The site, which is to ostensibly facilitate no-strings-attached affairs contains a lot of men who are trying to forge real emotional bonds.  One might even say they were all looking to fall in love.

While there are the classic men looking just for physical hook ups, more men are looking for a way to rekindle their best selves,  usually their memory of their pasts- winning games and having a future that was open and unburdened. They long to have the flame of curiosity that come with new affections interrupt their long term relationships that have traded a spark for complacent predictability.

The joke in the success of Ashley Madison is that whether the cheating partner is found out or not, they bear the same consequences.   When we choose to save our best selves for interests outside of our primary relationship commitments, the places that need the same nurturing attention in the relationship wither and die.   Without intending to,  we starve our relationship of the heart that it needs to find in order to grow and develop.

Musical chairs is fun for the kids who get to the seat first, but not for the kids who are thrown out of the circle every time.  The thrill that comes from new biology driven falling for someone is equally matched by the loneliness and alienation that is left to the primary relationship.   Just as you don’t have to enumerate your bad thoughts for others to know you are having them,  indiscretions create ripples and chasms in relationships that might never be recognized by its proper name.

In hindsight most people who are betrayed in a their long term relationship always own up to having known, had they allowed themselves to see it.  The most sure way to Ashley Madison proof your relationship is to be dedicated to learning to love.   Deciding to invest the time, energy and passion that you would bring to a new relationship into your own, maybe just the spark it was missing all along.


KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

People who know they are not monogamous should never get married and make promises they can't keep. That's the bottom line. The divorce rate in CA is 90% so there are a lot of broken promises out my way. Marriage seems to be on the way out. There's really no reason for it any more unless you want to reproduce. People seem to have gotten lazy and are too self centered to put in the hard work a marriage entails. Perhaps monogamy is outmoded as well or perhaps it's humanly impossible to be monogamous.

Tana Martin
Tana D6 years ago

How nice that Biederman does not believe in monogamy, is married, runs a business to help married/committed people have affairs, yet would be devastated if his own wife had an affair. If you don't believe in monogamy, why get married and why on earth would you begrudge your spouse for having sex with someone else?? I mean seriously, if he wouldn't like it and would be heartbroken if his own wife used his service, then why is he helping for millions of other spouses to feel that way (assuming of course they care and found out about their partner's infidelity). What a hypocrite!

I don't really care if you don't believe in monogamy, want multiple sex partners, or have been devoted to one person for 50 yrs. Do whatever makes you happy. BUT, I do not understand the people who say humans can't be monogamous who then go and get married. Unless you and your new spouse have an arrangement to bed other people with one another's knowing about it and permission, you're going against what you believe in and eventually something will have to give, whether that is your beliefs or your marriage.

William Ford
William Ford6 years ago

If think of short life, better find God for eternal life?

Ralph YY
JustaHuman Here7 years ago

I do not want or desire an affair. All I ever wanted and need I have in my wife.

Jenna Brennan
Jennifer B7 years ago

I find this kind of disturbing. Yes life is short but having an affair isn't going to enrich it. Dedicating myself wholly and completely to my soul mate is what is enriching and feels much better than the guilt of an affair.

Dace J.
Dace J7 years ago

The best thing for everybody instead of looking and looking for new sensations would be have an affairs with oneself. Learn yourself, focus on yourself, "upgrade" yourself, challenge yourself, trust yourself. Truly looking inward instead of just rushing for new emotions, will teach how to make meaningful and loving relationship.

Charlotte J.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing this article. A lot of people love to buy services like this, because it stimulates their sense of ego. Maybe they are looking to fall in love, but I think, they are fooling themselves, because it is only an ego-attraction. They need snuggle up with their creator and look inwards and really think about how "fun" they are to live with for a partner at the end of the day. If we could only see how unloving we can be as a partner, our ego would crumble and that is the nasty truth, even if we are not looking for an affair! This looking inwards is very healthy to do also for people, who are not unfaithful in act!
Some people find this truth by undergoing affairs, where then everything pops up in front of their face. It is only drastic, that it takes this much hurt to find the lies and inner deceipt.

Kristina Golemanova

I definitely do not agree with Neil Biederman, monogamy IS in our DNA. DNA is a too complicated element to be categorized by a founder of such venture. The part of our DNA in question deals with reproduction. However, it is quite natural that animals are not monogamous, because they have to maintain a stable population. The planet is over-populated by our specie, so it makes perfect sense to me that we become monogamous. Our genes are remarkably wise. So the reason why we choose to have an affair does not come from our DNA, it might come from our lifestyle and manipulation by such people. If we leave the DNA alone and use our brain for a couple of minutes, we should all become aware of a simple fact – affairs are the number one destroyer of relationships and marriages. So people like Mr. Biederman actually make profit from ruining families.

Diana M.
Diana Martin7 years ago

I saw an ad for this site on tv in the afternoon. It was very tongue-in-cheek, and I thought it was a joke. I couldn't figure out what the real product they were selling was. I kept telling myself that it had to have been a joke. Finally I looked it up online and was astounded when I saw it was for real. I was really offended that they had advertised for something so vile in the middle of the day on regular tv.