How Browsing Ashley Madison Convinced Me Not To Cheat On My Husband

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Ashley Madison Convinced Me Not To Cheat On My Husband
Heartbreak, Sex

Before I started flirting with men at the playground, I wanted to know who these cheating men were.

Logging on to as an unhappily married mother-of-two was the first real step I took in exploring the pool of available men. I knew what I was looking for: someone like me — divorced or on the brink of it, with a strong libido and no huge desire for commitment. 

I entered a search query for men who were 30 to 45, divorced, and living within 10 miles of me. 

Looking into what else was out there served another purpose for me: I wanted to see if there were normal men who had also made a bad call with their marriage and had the guts and strength to pull the plug and start over again. I wanted to see what those men looked like. In all honesty, I hoped they looked good.

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Imagine my disappointment when my search results yielded the exact opposite of what I was looking for. Overweight, balding men, many of them with decorative facial hair, filled my computer screen. I didn't want to have sex with any of them. After a brief perusal I logged out of the site and quickly forgot about it all. 

More recently, in the past few months, I was the most unhappy I had ever been in my marriage. I felt hopeless and I stopped caring. I disliked my husband, but I was also wary of starting over and being alone.

So I came up with a plan: What if I could meet someone else while married? That would make it much easier for me to break up with my husband, knowing that there is someone else out there that I already liked.

Admittedly, this pre-meditated course of action is immature and it would be cheating, but I entertained a fantasy of meeting some dad at the playground or at my kids' school, sharing witty repartée, planning play dates and then totally falling for each other (it sounds like a Hollywood rom-com, I know).

But how was I going to meet a married man who might be interested in exploring outside of his marriage? Before I started flirting with men at the playground, I wanted to know who these "cheating men" were and what they looked like.

Was it even worth my crossing that dangerous line into infidelity? I thought the easiest first step was to check out a website I had heard about for married people who are looking to have discreet love affairs: Ashley Madison

One night after my husband and kids fell asleep, I visited the site. I was nervous to even enter the site in my browser but my curiosity took over. In order to search the Ashley Madison site I had to sign up for an account so I entered false information and signed up for a trial membership.

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I eagerly entered some basic search terms, which resulted in a small list of about 20 men. None of them had photos in their profile, but that's not surprising.

I started to read each of their brief headlines to see if I could learn anything meaningful. The headlines were cold, heartless and all about sex. "If you are looking for a hot night, I am your guy," or "I don't want to know anything about you, just meet me at a hotel."

Even though I was looking to cheat, I felt disgusted.

Somehow, my desire to explore outside my marriage seemed more innocent than these men who were just looking for sex. I was hoping to find a nice, confused person like myself. I felt so dirty and guilty even looking at the search results that I quickly logged out and terminated my account, never to return. 

These days, I am back from the brink of divorce, but my husband and I still have hard times. I am constantly analyzing my feelings and our relationship, and often wondering if there is someone better out there. But I am no longer scouring the Internet for a boyfriend.

I still find myself checking out the dads at the park or at the gym, taking mental inventory to see how other married-looking people are doing. Is he a single dad? Is he divorced or just no ring? Does he look happy? 

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When I feel upset in my marriage, I remind myself of a lot of things."Marriage is a roller coaster" and "Relationships are hard" are two quotes that I often come back to. I don't jump right to the idea of adultery.

I also remind myself that I have a great, handsome, fun man and I would be much happier working on what I have rather than jumping back out there and trying to find someone new.

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But that doesn't mean that I've stopped looking at the men around me.

This article was originally published at Elizabeth Street. Reprinted with permission from the author.