I Went Undercover On Ashley Madison To See What Cheaters Look Like

Photo: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock
man looking at phone while on bed

With the data breach heard around the world in July of 2015, the extra-marital affair website Ashley Madison made headline news. Hackers leaked secure information of the site's users, including the email addresses and names of those with accounts on the site.

Social media outlets went berserk for information on the outed cheaters, who even included high-profile people like Josh Duggar and YouTube star Sam Rader. 

Even before the infamous hack, something about this particular dating site always intrigued me. 

So with my husband’s blessing, I went undercover to check it out and see what all the fuss is about. Since I had no interest in an actual affair, I got creative and had some fun!

Under the name “Jessica Beans,” I registered my account and entered my height, weight, etc. Mrs. Beans is 5’6" and approximately 110 lbs (in my dreams). 

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When you upload a photo, you have options of how discreet you want to be: slightly blurred, very blurry, and even fun little masks. Being that I’ve always wanted to go to a masquerade ball, but never found an opportunity to do so, I chose the fun mask and placed it over a real (albeit old) picture of myself.

Realizing that I had entered my childhood zip code, I quickly made my picture private. I didn’t need my high school gym teacher to start winking at me; just no.

Within minutes of my account activation, I had multiple winks, private keys (access to private photos), and a message. Feeling pretty good knowing Mrs. Beans had some options, I started searching for attached men within a 20-mile radius.

I expected really far-out names (think: “DeepThroatLover123”), but what I found was “NYGuy456” and the like; regular screen names from average-looking men — the complete opposite of what I anticipated. No handsome Bradley Cooper look-alike, and no kinky Christian Grey wannabe.

I started browsing, and one profile caught my attention. “Nice guy just checking this site out” was the tagline.

Let’s be real for a moment: if you’re a “nice guy,” you’re not on a website designed for infidelity, despite what the FAQs on the site say. Additionally, he was a “full member” (oh, the jokes I could write here), which means he paid. Mr. Nice Guy paid actual money for full membership.

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I clicked on his profile and found that he lived about a half hour away from my house (yikes). His interests: conventional sex, experimenting with sex toys, likes to give oral, and sex talk.

I messaged him: “nice guy, huh? ;)” He was currently online, so I knew he’d get my message immediately and sure enough, a few minutes later, I was granted access to his photos.

Oh, Mr. Nice Guy, what a tangled web we weave. How about you don't put pictures of your wife on a dating site? I was horrified.

I could be absolutely wrong and perhaps the wife knew of his account and encouraged it. But, I will gamble that she probably had no idea of her husband’s secret online life, and to see her smiling face was absolutely heartbreaking.

What a weasel to include that type of picture and how humiliating for this woman. No Mr. Nice Guy for Mrs. Beans.

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Before deleting my account, I checked out all my winks, messages, and private keys. Married men were trying to get the attention of a profile that had no picture, and barely any details. What does this say for the current state of holy matrimony?

Webster’s Online Dictionary states that "marriage is the relationship that exists between a husband and wife." What happens when Ashley Madison knocks on the door? That definition is shattered!

I’ve known people in open relationships who were just as happy as those in traditional ones, but what does it mean when it’s done in secret? It means something is grossly amiss and should be addressed in a New York minute.

When I think of these situations, I’m often reminded of Jimmy Buffet's Piña Colada song: Sometimes the excitement you’re looking for is right in your bed next to you.

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Liza Walter is a writer who covers true crime, mental health illness, and depression.