The question has come up a few times now: What’s a single woman doing on Ashley Madison? Sure, there are a few other unfettered folks on there but the site’s tag line is, after all, “Life is short. Have an affair.” It’s a hook-up service for the hitched. I have a few reasons for putting a profile up on this tacky “cheaters’” site and none of them are what I would classify as simple.
Let’s start with the fact that I’ve been single for a year now and mostly unhappy about it. My last boyfriend and I split primarily due to circumstances. He had a job in California, I needed to be in New York. We didn’t really have a “let’s break up” moment. There wasn’t a neat and tidy “end.” Even today, after all this time, I believe I’m still in love with him. And that lingering love has been a serious obstacle in my pursuit of…happiness. Between loving him and moving on. And eventually falling in love with someone else.
Thus I’ve been dabbling in online dating and have experienced the most luck with OkCupid. But it’s been so long since I’ve felt attracted to anyone that I don’t even know what it feels like anymore. And since I’ve never really dated – in the old-fashioned sense of the word, where a woman meets a guy who asks her out on an actual date – I truly don’t know how to conduct myself. So I’m getting some practice. Like going on an interview for a job you don’t want.
It’d be too easy to say that the average attached, Ashley Madison man is taller and better looking than the single losers I’ve been finding online. However, it appears to be true. I could quote all the studies and stats that say married men make more money and it’s not difficult to grasp that if a person experiences success in one aspect of their life, other successful aspects logistically follow. And I certainly don’t want to get into the whole “All the good ones are taken” conversation but, man, sometimes it sure seems like they are. That a man is “taken” does not, in any way, make him more appealing to me. In fact, just the opposite. But some of these guys are pretty damn appealing!
I’ve felt less pressure to find “the one,” mostly because so many of these men are married. I can experiment with finding “chemistry” without all the other crap. On “regular” blind dates (which all online dates, essentially, are) the pressure involved with sitting down across from a stranger and immediately asking “Do I want to fuck/marry this guy?” can be too much. Who can live up to those sort of expectations? Shouldn’t it be more about “Do I enjoy this person?” and have the future be reassuringly amorphous (as it always, realistically, is….) Of course, the obvious drawback would be “clicking” with or, god forbid, falling in love with, someone who’s inconveniently married.
My favorite aspect of being on Ashley Madison is how easily I’m able to be brutal. The guy’s 5’8”? Delete! He doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”? Delete. His opening salvo is “Hey, baby, wanna play?” Goodbye. He sends me his “private showcase” key, which reveals the dreaded headless naked bathroom mirror self-portrait. DELETE! I feel no obligation to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. He’s just some married dude! Of course, given that there is the odd single guy, I could accidentally delete a potential dream date. But why bother if he doesn’t make the cut? I’m not quite sure why I’m so much less callous on OkCupid. Why I feel a need to be polite on singles’ sites that I don’t feel on Ashley Madison. Being ruthless is sublimely liberating! I can tell him his photos are embarrassing; that he does not, as a matter of fact, look 10 years younger; I have no problem saying, “Yo, dude, that was kind of offensive!” I love not really giving a shit if a guy writes me back, calls me again or blows me off completely. Dirty hair, dirty laundry, who the hell cares? There wasn’t any hope for a future with the guy anyway. The surprising thing is that most of these men seem to actually appreciate the honesty! I guess it’s one more thing that’s been missing in their lives. Which leads me to:
There are hundreds of men on Ashley Madison who have been “imprisoned” by their lives: marriages, wives, kids, jobs, BORING or stagnating or otherwise suffocating existences. I have been living – and continue to live – a pretty wild life by comparison to most and even emailing me – or meeting me for a drink — seems to “satisfy” an “I’m looking for…something” craving these men have. Who knows what will happen next? Maybe I’ll scare the guy back to his wife. Maybe I’ll inspire him to get that inevitable divorce. At the very least I hope to be able to give people a little taste of what their life isn’t, a glimpse of what they may be missing, and what they THINK they want but perhaps don’t, really, in the end.
I’d be guilty of telling only the partial truth if I didn’t admit to being somewhat interested in a few free meals…or free beers. These married dudes have jobs and money, in addition to their wives, and if they’re looking to hang out with someone who might give them a little thrill – be it in bed or a Starbucks — why not make them pay? Honestly, I’m not that much of mercenary. But it does make it easier to rationalize accepting the “charity.”
So you see, my motivations are somewhat complicated. I love to meet new people. I love to help people. Maybe it’s the closeted shrink in me. I’m not sure. I enjoy being enjoyed…appreciate feeling appreciated. In the end, it’s all an ego boost. And then some guy writes me a poem. No one’s ever written me a poem. And I cry. Maybe that’s why I’m Ashley Madison.