What men really want and why they're willing to cheat to get it may surprise you.
You know how when you're single, meeting someone and getting married seems like the absolute dream?
Like, the stress of marriage can't be worse than the stress of burning out yet another vibrator, can it?
Yes, yes it can. I'm living, breathing and cheating proof.
After being the picture of faithful during my 18-year marriage, I found myself on Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people.
You might think of cheating sites and immediately think of men and Ashley Madison, but women cheat there too.
And you thought watching animated tentacle porn was bad, imagine what deciding to cheat feels like.
The reasons I wound up on Ashley Madison are probably really similar to the reasons everyone else who visits winds up on Ashley Madison.
I realized just how lonely I felt in my marriage, and we'd beaten counseling to death.
Like many long-term relationships, we fell victim to the demands of our society, finding ourselves living like hamsters on a wheel — going to work, coming home, taking care of the kids and household duties, eating, sleeping, back to work.
To make matters worse, I was dealing with an empty nest. My daughter was in her second year of college and my husband had started a new job that required him to travel most of the time, and he very seldom called home. At 46-years-old, one thing I knew for sure was that I was no longer willing to “settle” in my life, and it was up to me to change it.
Was visiting Ashley Madison and starting out my secret life of cheating the best way to change things up? Obviously not, but it was better than remaining stagnant.
Until that point, I lived for everyone else, taking care of everything and everyone else. What I really longed for more than anything was passion and to feel desired. I could count on one hand the number of times my husband and I made love in one year. My libido and his libido greatly differed.
And that's being nice about it.
Sure, you can work out a compromise with your partner if what they want in bed isn't what you want, but having prescribed sex is about as fun as alien sex probe, or so I'd imagine.
It was clear to me that our love languages weren’t the same. I wanted sex and lots of it. I wanted to feel cherished. I wanted someone to yearn for me.
In the immortal words of Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson, my love bucket was empty.
That’s what led me to Ashley Madison
I gave my husband an ultimatum. “If you don’t want me anymore, then I’ll have to find someone who does,” I told him. I gave him two months to change, but he didn’t make an effort to spend more time with me or show me more affection. So, I signed up for Ashley Madison in April 2013. I told myself it wasn’t cheating because I was honest about it. Since I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay married or not, I couldn’t commit to a “real” full-time relationship.
I just wanted to find someone who had the same needs as me: attention, affection, sex and friendship.
And sex. Oh, and also sex. Did I mention, sex?
Signing Up Was Super Easy
Men and Ashley Madison don't get along as well as women. On Ashley Madison, they charge men for every little thing but women sign up for free. I created my profile, and I was brutally honest. I was a “virgin” to online dating and far more naive than your average cheater, so I posted my picture, used my real name and told it all. (Looking back, that wasn't a safe thing to do!) I had approximately 200 messages in my inbox by the end of the day.
In the beginning, I thought I needed to “be polite” and respond to everyone who sent me a wink. That politeness lasted until I got my first penis picture.
I quickly figured out that those who were really interested in me sent a written message, not just a lazy wink, or a blurry photograph of their member. Even then, I could tell which ones were canned (copy and pasted) and which men actually read my profile.
The worst cheaters were the traveling businessmen that wanted a girlfriend in every city. “I’ll be in Columbus next week. Can you meet me?” Lame, skeezy, and not remotely worthy busting my cheating cherry.
Minus several pervs asking me about my cup size and requesting nude photos, it surprised me to find that many Ashley Madison members are professional, middle-aged men, most of whom have wives and kids.
Within hours I realized that I was a rare breed on the site. I was authentic, honest and just me — at least that was the feedback I got. “A real live goddess,” they called me. I must admit, I loved the attention at first, but I was also concerned with whether or not it was authentic. I asked myself, What is it about these men that brings them here? They seem successful in every other area of their lives, so what makes them want to seek an affair outside of their marriage? Were they truly lonely in their marriages like me, or were they just players wanting sex?
They Still Put Marriage First
As I read through each profile, I noticed an underlying message from each one of them: “I'm lonely in my relationship, but I’m committed and not willing to leave but cheating is fine for now.”
Each one of them, just like me, was hoping that by joining a website, they would somehow fill a void in their life that was missing. On the surface, it looked like all they wanted was sex with “no strings attached.” For some of them, this is true. However, I met many men who wanted “that one special person to have a safe, loving, affectionate, discreet relationship with.”
Cheating, like an onion or a parfait, has layers.
Most of them weren’t the egotistical scumbags or players that I prepared myself for.
They were loving, kind, hard-working family men. What impressed me the most about my communications with these men is that, above everything else, they remained committed to staying in the marriage and continued to put family first. They made sure they were at their kids’ sports games and band concerts and there to mow the lawn on Saturday. I learned that what they were missing most wasn’t just sex — it was acknowledgment, appreciation, affection and love.
Was signing onto the Ashley Madison and looking to cheat the best way of fixing their foundering marriages? No. But I wasn't exactly in any place to judge.
We Were Looking For The Same Thing
Each of us yearns for the love, attention, acknowledgment, passion, playfulness and joy that we experience early in dating and marriage. I realized that choosing to have an affair outside of marriage was never going to fix my relationship. At best, it was going to be a cheap band-aid, and we all know that after a few days that band-aid turns grimy, sticky, and almost impossible to rip off without wincing.
I wanted something real, not something part time. This would mean that I had to learn to love myself (gag, such a cliche but one for a reason), and learn that giving my husband an ultimatum and cheating wasn't going to change anything for the better.
I had to take the real leap, move on, and look for the love and affection, not just me but everyone deserves.