Self, Sex

How Ashley Madison Is Trying To Convince You That Cheating Is Cool

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Ashley Madison hookups open relationships

The dating site Ashley Madison has had a rough couple of years.

First, there were those who found Ashley Madison’s whole reason for existing to be completely abhorrent. Mostly everyone. 

It was, after all, the first online dating site with a specifically stated mission to help people cheat. (Their old slogan “Life’s short. Have an affair.” said it all.)

Then, they got massively hacked in 2015, revealing the user data for over 32 million of their members (who probably valued their privacy since they were trying to set up an affair). The fallout from the breach (and the ensuing scandal) is still ongoing.

In December 2016, Ashley Madison paid out $1.6 million in court settlements because they “used lax online security, misled users and created fake female profiles to lure male customers.”

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Next, the company did a post-hack relaunch in 2016, with a slick new ad campaign and a new slogan — “Find your moment.” (The reaction to the relaunch was decidedly mixed.)

Perhaps that’s why I’m so skeptical whenever Ashley Madison makes its way into the news, even if it’s for something as innocuous as a press release.

Because Ashley Madison recently released some new “data” about how people are searching for sex and relationships online — and surprise surprise, the results make it sound like people are TOTALLY into Ashley Madison!


Here’s what Ashley Madison is telling us…

According to a release they put out last week, Ashley Madison claims that “people are starting the New Year with more open-minded attitudes about sexuality.”

(OK, that doesn’t sound too bad. Being open-minded is good.)


CEO Rob Segal is quoted as saying:

"Definitions for modern relationships and monogamy are evolving beyond narrow, limiting labels into a new spirit of openness and discovery… At this time of the year, we see a spike in visits to as people look to explore new experiences and desires with like-minded people.”

(You would call monogamy “narrow” and “limiting” if you ran a cheating site, wouldn’t you?)

According to their “research” — which is solely based on Google Adwords impressions between 2015 and 2016 — the search term “hookup” saw a 24% increase last year and terms like “open marriages” and “open relationships” also showed “double-digit surges.”

(That all may be true, but they’re only using one source for those numbers. And who knows what other terms saw search spikes in 2016?)

The press release tries to argue that this search increase for terms like “hookups” and “open marriages” represents some kind of societal shift away from restrictive sexual stereotypes because the term “MILF” saw a 60% search decrease in 2016.


Wait… what?

So, according to Ashley Madison’s “logic,” 2017 will be a more progressive year sexually because a few search terms saw an increase in 2016 and another one saw a decrease?


This may be reading WAY too much into what is unquestionably a crappy corporate marketing press release disguised as social research, but, c’mon, Ashley Madison, it’s like you’re not even trying.

But we get the point. 

If Ashley Madison makes it seem like cheating is totally normal, they might have a chance of gaining back their audience base.

But the thing is, people KNOW cheating isn't normal ... or cool.

An remember — having an open marriage is NOT the same as having an affair. 

An affair is about infidelity. About lying and being dishonest.

An open marriage or open relationship is about agreeing with your spouse that you're going to have outside relationships.

Agree with the idea of an open marriage or not, it's decidedly NOT the same as cheating. 

But Ashley Madison wants you to believe it is. 

It would be really interesting to see if people actually are becoming more open to polyamory or open relationships in their search behavior online, but that will have absolutely nothing to do with cheating ... and even if it did, who would believe it, coming from Ashley Madison?

And it doesn’t help when their claims about more progressive attitudes are only backed up by holding up only one search term — M.I.L.F. — and calling it “judgmental.”

Um, Ashley Madison, your motto used to be “Life is short. Have an affair.” Do you really think you can convincingly hold the moral high ground on this one? Do you think if you act shocked that people use the term M.I.L.F. that we’ll believe you?

Hopefully, a less-biased organization will put together a report, because Ashley Madison’s new research is half-assed at best, self-serving at worst.

Remember — Life IS short, so keep a healthy sense of skepticism when a cheating site tells you exactly what they want you to hear.