And affairs are big business. Numerous websites are dedicated to connecting those looking to engage in flagrante delicto sans spouse. AffairsClub.com, MarriedCafe.com, LonelyWivesAffairs.com are but the tip of the iceberg, and all have women and men signing up in droves. The undisputed leader for cheating is AshleyMadison.com, the "Life is short. Have an affair." website. AshleyMadison has experienced meteoric growth since its founding in 2002, with no slowing in sight. And while founder and CEO Noel Biderman doesn't condone having an affair, he seems perfectly comfortable with others doing their infidelity thing. Works for some ... and now, it was my turn to get my (feigned) cheat on.
"Hello, Ashley Madison! Long time, no cheat!"
I filled out my nickname and relevant info, plopped down my credit card number (discretely billed as "AMDB" to my credit card statement), and then all I needed to do was ... wait a second. I was faced with the eternal online seduction dilemma: now what? What will make the opposite sex want me online? What do women want to see on my profile?
Recent reports state that Ashley Madison has a community that is comprised of 70 percent men and 30 percent women. Clearly women have the upper hand with choice, so I needed to stand out against all the other guys. I posted a real picture of me (I was looking to connect in-person, after all), but I listed a fake name (if they Googled my real name, I was sure to be caught). To formulate the right approach, I decided to do something I couldn't do in the real world: get into the minds of my competition, albeit a little sneakily.
I signed up for a second Ashley Madison account as a woman, "Shelly," and began checking out the guys' profiles. Most of the men's profiles highlighted attempts at humor, asking straight-out for sex, to ... uh ... romance ("I like walks on the beach.") Really?! Walks on the beach?! Come on, now ... no, you don't! I mean, we all like walking on the beach, but that's not why you're on the site. And besides, the 1970s called, and they want their pick-up line back. In contrast, so many of the women's profiles were dripped with laments ranging from "lack of attention" to "seeking excitement" to "need someone who pays attention." Additionally, it was fascinating to see "Shelly's" inbox fill up in a matter of minutes. I hadn't even added a picture or completed the profile for that persona.