Love, Sex

How Joining Ashley Madison Affair Website Improved A Woman's Marriage (And Saved The Relationship Of The Man She Cheated With)

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How To Save Your Relationship With Ashley Madison And Married Dating

Starting a new relationship is an exhilarating experience. The butterflies you get when you see his name pop up on your phone, the flowers, getting dressed up for romantic dates, and the undivided attention that makes you feel like you’re the only person in his world… well, there’s really nothing else quite like it.

Unfortunately, as time moves on and you both get comfortable, that excitement starts fading. He sees you more in sweatpants than in the sexy dresses you wore when you first met, and the stud he once was has morphed into a guy who always forgets to take out the trash.

Being comfortable with your partner is a good thing, but becomes harmful if it leads to complacency, which is dangerous territory for long-term, monogamous relationships.

According to Andrea Miller, author of Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love, “not only does complacency threaten the viability of your relationship, it often erodes your well-being and self-esteem. Not feeling valued in your relationship is one of the leading causes for breakups and divorce."

RELATED: The Surprising Reason People Cheat (And Why It's Happening Now More Than Ever Before) 

But what if we told you there’s a way to avoid watching your relationship crash and burn around you?

I spoke with Stephanie, a woman who’s been in a successful, fulfilling relationship with her partner for over ten years. They met after both having experienced failed marriages.

“We both came from pretty difficult previous marriages,” she told me. “Largely sexless.”

Stephanie and her partner aren’t alone. In a survey of over 1,300 people that we conducted with Ashley Madison, we found that unfortunately, far too many couples land in this trap. According to the survey, in an ideal world, 85 percent of survey respondents would prefer having sex multiple times a week if not every day. Clearly, this is not an ideal world, as the survey also revealed that only 38 percent of those people actually do have sex that often.

Stephanie and her partner vowed to make their current relationship far better than those they experience in the past, ready to do whatever they could to ensure they stay together. And so far, it’s worked.

So what’s their secret?

They started using Ashley Madison about seven years into their relationship. “We always would couple watch and be like ‘oh, that person’s attractive,’ so nothing was really off-limits,” Stephanie said. “The conversation evolved over a long period of time, like a couple years to get to the open relationship.”

Yes: Ashley Madison is that dating site you’ve heard of where married men and women go to date new people. And sure, that sounds an awful lot like cheating. But, according to 58 percent of the men and women who took our survey, cheating begins when you start keeping secrets — and there’s no room for secrets in Stephanie’s relationship.

RELATED: I Went Undercover On Ashley Madison To Find Out Why Women Cheat

“We both separately created profiles and then we gave each other passwords and login information for the other so that we could monitor what was going on,” she explained. However, she claims neither of them has ever had to use them. “It was just more of a trust thing. We were both very open with sharing what we were doing.”

Stephanie and her partner’s decision to open their relationship may seem like a drastic one, but the reasoning behind it is valid. “It’s not about sex, it’s about desire,” acclaimed author and therapist Esther Perel explained.

For Stephanie, getting on Ashley Madison wasn’t about sex or finding someone to replace her partner, but rather it funneled some extra excitement into her primary relationship. “It’s new and exciting. Just a supplement,” she said. “There’s nothing missing in our relationship, it’s just an additional element to it. We both feel like we missed out on a large part of our lives because of our previous marriages, experimenting and just meeting other people. We’re not looking to change partners. He and I are it. It’s simply an extra bit of fun.”

Stephanie said that these days, she and her partner aren’t active on the site. Her “partner has been on and off for a while just because it’s harder for him,” and she’s met someone on Ashley Madison that “works” for her. Stephanie’s partner has never met the man she’s dating and has “no interest” in doing so.

RELATED: What It Means If You Get 'Butterflies In Your Stomach' Around Someone (Even When You're In A Relationship With Someone Else)

However, she stressed that attempting an open relationship like hers comes with some caveats. “Communication is key. And if one of you isn’t into it, you’re not going to be able to force the other person into it,” she cautioned. “If you’re having struggles in your relationship already, then it’s not gonna work either. That’s not gonna fix the relationship.”

But that doesn’t mean married dating still can’t salvage your relationship. The man Stephanie met on Ashley Madison is also married, though unlike Stephanie, his wife has no idea that he’s on the married dating site. But according to Stephanie, Ashley Madison is actually saving his relationship.

“Men that I’ve talked to on there are living in marriages where they deeply love their wives but they just don’t have any physical intimacy with them anymore. They’re not going anywhere, but they just want that physical intimacy,” she said. “Having that outlet allows them to stay in their marriage because they’re truly in love with their wives, so I think that’s a pretty important outlet. Not that anybody’s out to hurt anybody, but if there’s something missing, it can be filled without any strings.”

So whether you’re using Ashley Madison openly with your partner or secretly creating a profile, both of Stephanie’s relationships show that married dating could be the key to keeping your primary relationship alive.

RELATED: What Women Should Know About How Men Choose Affair Partners — According To 400 Men

Micki Spollen is a YourTango editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in November 2017 and was updated with the latest information.​

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