Lots of you sent me that article on Yahoo news last week: “For the Thrill of the Affair — Why Married Women Cheat.”
As expected, it was full of familiar little character studies. (I wonder… do you need character to be a study?)
- The sophisticated cheaters — the sort that sit “bored” and alone in parking lots, perusing Ashley Madison profiles on their phone.
- The entrepreneur — “Hey, if I don’t destroy marriages, someone else will!”
- The unicorns — Forgiveness is “truly saying I will never hold this against you, ever.”
Had to fire up the Universal Bullshit Translator for this one. I need the power of technology, otherwise I twitch and spit a lot and just go “GAH!”
When women cheat, it’s often considered a scandal, and never has cheating been as easy as it is now, when finding a willing partner is click or a phone tap away.
But what drives women to cheat? And do they stray as much and for the same reasons as men?
Does it matter? Why must we untangle their little skeins of fuckupedness? Do women cheat because they didn’t get a Mother’s Day gift, or were they victim to a deep, spiritual connection? Where does the analysis stop? Do gay people stray for the same reasons straight people do? Are left-handed Presbyterians more likely to cheat than right-handed ones? What about people from Michigan? Are they randier than Ohioans? Or would they rather be ice-fishing? Hey researchers, how about we just lump all the cheaters together, okay? Nothing “drives” cheaters to cheat. There are no “reasons” other than they’re jerks.
Watch the full story on “Nightline” tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET
Did anybody watch this? In college (1988) I was an intern at Nightline, and God bless Ted Koppel he did boring shit like Yassar Arafat and peace process in the Middle East, or the lack of funding for organ transplants, or the civil war in El Salvador. Has Nightline been reduced to this tabloid crap? I’m old and I don’t stay up late anymore so I wouldn’t know. If so, sad day. Hope Koppel is enjoying his twilight pension years and doesn’t watch Nightline “news.”
Katherine, whose name has been changed, said she and her husband were married for 14 years. After undergoing major weight loss and multiple plastic surgeries, she began looking for excitement outside of what she said was a stale marriage and turned to AshleyMadison.com, the notorious dating website for “casual encounters.”
I mean, why waste your breast implants on a stale marriage? That’s what I want to know.
“I was feeling very lonely one night,” Katherine said. “I was bored, on my phone in the parking lot, sitting in my car, pulled up AshleyMadison, and decided to open my first profile to see what would happen.”
You were wondering what would happen if you offered no-strings-attached sex to married men on a cheating site? Let me guess, Katherine, they found you IRRESISTIBLE!
AshleyMadison.com’s motto is “life is short, have an affair.” Noel Biderman, the author of “Adultropology: The Cyber-Anthropology Behind Infidelity,” started the site more than 10 years ago. He said he makes more than $40 million a month from it.
Nice work if you have no conscience. I’m sure you modeled this on other successful franchises like: “life is short, shoot endangered wildlife!” or “life is short, bludgeon an orphan.”
“We’re the second-biggest dating service on the planet,” Biderman said. “This is not a kid’s game. This is an enterprise of significance.”
Let no one say you’re sleazy, Noel. You run an “enterprise of significance.” Sounds much classier that way.
Biderman and his wife Amanda Biderman, who rarely gives interviews, agreed to sit down with “Nightline” to discuss his website and their marriage. She said when he first told her about the idea for the site, she was leery.
“I wanted to make sure he wasn’t having a mid-life crisis,” Amanda Biderman said. “Then I got to understand it more and thought it was interesting.”
Amanda said “interesting,” in that universal way wives do. Your husband puts on a loud plaid sportcoat, “That’s an interesting look.” Or he makes you sit through four hours of Wagnerian opera and wants to know what you think. “It was interesting.” Or how did you like the company sales dinner. “Interesting.”
In other words interesting is: “I’ll shut up to keep the peace.” Amanda’s price? $40 million a week.
Noel Biderman said he has built a billion dollar business betting on infidelity, and now has 25 million members in 37 countries, but doesn’t believe he is encouraging people to cheat, just providing one outlet.
“Long before I launched AshleyMadison there were affairs, and long after I’m gone there will be affairs,” Biderman said. “What I’m trying to do is help people have the more perfect affair.”
Perfect is a superlative, Noel. You can’t say “more perfect.” It makes grammarians everywhere grind their teeth. But for cheaters perhaps that is the more perfect word choice. See, perfect isn’t good enough for entitled douchebags, they need MORE perfect! Because they’re very, very special sausages who deserve only the best parking lot hookups.
You’re just a forward-looking businessman, Noel. You remind me of that entrepreneur and 19th century slave trader, Ezekiel Horehound who said, “Long before I launched ShackledCruises.com there was slavery, and long after I’m gone there will be slavery. What I’m trying to do is help slave owners have the more perfect slave-owning experience.”
“I’m encouraging secrecy, yes,” he added, “but I’m not necessarily encouraging infidelity. I don’t think it needs all that much encouragement.”
That’s right, Noel. You’re selling secrecy. Anyone can shop at AshleyMadison for secrecy! Teenagers, CIA operatives, fat people hiding donuts. The whole cheating on your spouse thing? Total coincidence. I mean, why encourage it? These people just find you.
Wendy Plump knows all about the elusive allure of an affair: keeping secrets. She said she strayed with three different men during her 18-year marriage.
What drove you to cheat, Wendy? Was it your name? Did you have to prove that Plump people are attractive? Or are you passive-aggressively seething that you took your husband’s name? Plump truck. Plump pudding. Pleased as Plump. What was it, Wendy? Call you speak for all women?
“It is like a drug, a rush,” Plump said. “You know what it’s like when you fall in love with someone or your spouse? It’s like that when you have an affair, all over again.”
Yes, love is a lot like a drug. Kind of wears off though after awhile. Or makes you nauseous if you take it on an empty stomach. I don’t mix love and alcohol. Fucks you up. When love stops working like it used to, I try a new brand.
But it turned out that she wasn’t the only one in her marriage who was cheating. The final betrayal, she said, was discovering her husband had fathered a child with his long-term mistress.
That’s some bad karma, Wendy. A baby Plump.
“I remember having everything crash in at the time,” Plump said. “Something incomprehensible as to how you could get around that. … I don’t want to make it seem like he was terrible and I was good because we both let the marriage down.”
Yeah, how could you ever get over that? A child! A incomprehensible physical manifestation of your husband’s infidelity. Unlike actual infidelities, which are comprehensible and a lot like potato chips. Can’t just stop at one! But babies? No. Fucking. Way.
Plump, a veteran reporter, turned her failed marriage into the subject of her memoir, “The Vow.” She and her husband are now divorced.
“I got many letter from women who had affairs or whose husbands had had affairs,” she said. “This is a lot more common than I would have imagined.”
So your takeaway from these letters isn’t — gosh that sucks? Or gee that’s sad? But that it’s a lot more common than you imagined. Because when you did it, it was edgy and sophisticated. But lots of women do it? It’s common? Is this like your mom getting on Facebook and just kind of ruining it for everybody, huh? Or do you mean common like “Hey, everybody does this”? In which case what you did wasn’t so bad.
Some statistics show that 21 percent of married men have had an affair, compared to 15 percent of married woman, according to the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey. But that number for women has spiked in the last two decades, up nearly 40 percent.
Plump said society still judges cheating wives much more harshly than cheating husbands.
Because cheating is a feminist thing, not an asshole thing.
“There’s a much bigger stigma for women who cheat than for men,” she said. “Women are expected to be more chaste and proper, more faithful to the home and when women cheat it’s viewed as having cheated on the family, whereas when men cheat, they cheat on their wife, and I suppose that it’s viewed as not a big deal.”
So what’s your point, Plump? That women who are faithful are chaste? Do you even know what chaste MEANS? It means “abstaining from sexual intercourse” or “virginal.” Women who are faithful to their spouses fuck ONLY THEIR SPOUSES. Because they made a promise in front of their family, friends, and God to only fuck their spouses, and their spouses promised to only fuck them. Being faithful doesn’t mean you don’t have hot sex. It means not fucking people you aren’t married to.
“More faithful to your home” — WTF? I’m not going to cheat on my toaster. We don’t swear fidelity to homes, just spouses. Oh… are you saying that faithful women are kind of square and Betty Crocker like? We care more about our domesticity than fucking our husbands? Because, that’s what society expects of Good Girls? Gosh, I’m so glad there are renegades like you Plump to show me another way. Fuck “The Feminine Mystique.” I want liberation of the Ashley Madison kind.
“When women cheat it’s viewed as having cheated on the family.”
Sure, no one faults men for abandoning their families. I think women should be given the same God-given rights as men to abandon their families, so long as no one judges them for it. Judging people is the bad thing. Abandoning families, hey that shit is common.
According to AshleyMadison.com, a woman is more prone to cheat at certain stress points in her life, notably right before turning 40.
“Women cheat because they believe that they’re missing something — don’t feel loved,” Plump said. “For men, seems like they want to cheat because they want to sleep with someone else, less an emotional thing.”
Yeah, there’s nothing gender stereotypical about that.
That’s what Katherine said happened to her.
I “didn’t even want a physical relationship with anyone else, I wanted to be wanted,” she said. “I wanted to be adored, wanted to be chased, wanted every man to think, I have got to have her.”
In other words — you cheat for kibbles. For the illusion that you’re adored. No, hang on, adored isn’t enough. One man could adore you but really you need a “more perfect” affair — every man needs to think “I have to have her.” Yeah, that’s attainable…
But for both Plump and Katherine, the aftermath of cheating on their spouses was devastating. After Katherine confessed her affair, her husband said it left him crushed.
“She said, ‘whatever vows we made, I’m breaking them right here,’” said Katherine’s husband, who asked not to be named. “I asked her, how dare she? How could she? … I was furious with her.”
But Katherine’s husband had a secret of his own — he started having an affair long before his wife ever turned to AshleyMadison.com.
“I really don’t have a good reason why I cheated,” he said. “I can come up with all the excuses … but it was my decision alone. … It was something new and exciting. And I don’t know why I did it.”
What? No excuses? You weren’t “driven” to it? Oh that’s right. You’re a man. We don’t untangle your skein. Ho hum. New sex. Whatever.
Though AshleyMadsion.com markets infidelity, ironically, Noel Biderman said he and his wife Amanda are happily married and completely faithful. Both said they would be devastated if the other cheated, but still did not agree with the accusation that Biderman’s website encourages cheating.
“I don’t see it as encouragement or enabling,” Amanda Biderman said. “It’s going to happen. It happens regardless of the business.”
In other news, Phillip Morris today announced that people smoke cigarettes regardless of Phillip Morris’s business model (growing tobacco, manufacturing cigarettes, marketing them globally…) Asked for a comment, the Marlboro Man said “I don’t encourage smoking. I’m just a cowboy.”
Noel Biderman insisted that his business does people more good than harm because the threat of infidelity can be a martial wake-up call.
“I see it as a platform that helps people stay married. Millions of people have affairs because they want to stay married,” he said. “I help millions of people find contentment, passion and happiness through my service.”
Better living through cake.
Biderman argues that hey, he doesn’t encourage cheating. Nope. He just sells secrecy. But if he was the kind of guy who DID encourage cheating, hey, it’s good for your marriage! Thanks to his “services” people find passion and happiness. He just won’t really say what those services are, except to note that they are “an enterprise of significance.”
But that is not how marriage counselors Jim and Elizabeth Carroll see it.
And now we talk to the Unicorns.
“I don’t think infidelity helps any marriage,” Jim Carroll said. “People should work through their problems before it gets to infidelity.”
Subtly implied there — problems in the marriage lead to infidelity. Let the problems go unchecked, infidelity is the result. Versus, oh — people cheat because they have crap life skills and cheat regardless of their marital “happiness.” Because they’re entitled jerks.
The Carrolls run marriage retreats all across the country for embattled couples, forcing them to talk and even fight out their issues, as seen on WeTV’s “Marriage Boot Camp.”
“I think the AshleyMadison site is a brilliant marketing attempt to capitalize on the basest human behavior, the least disciplined human behavior, and I think it plays directly into things that will destroy our culture,” Elizabeth Carroll said.
As opposed to encouraging people to stay with cheaters, which is positively improving for our culture.
Even for those couples like Katherine and her husband, who have both broken their vows, the Carrolls believe there is hope.
“The key to the solution is learning how to forgive, truly forgive, truly saying I will never hold this against you, ever,” Elizabeth said. “It’s a long road.”
Saying “I will never hold this against you ever” is a long road, is like saying walking to China in leg irons is a Sunday stroll. “I will never hold this against you ever” is the benchmark for reconciliation? Seriously? I mean, I can see aspiring to — based on your demonstrated remorse, I will rise above this and remain twitchy, don’t ever leave my sight. But never hold it against you ever? Fuck boundaries, have them. Whatever I need to do to demonstrate my complete unwavering faith in your trustworthiness, I will do (because really my inability to trust is the problem here…) What kind of unicorn dope are you people smoking?
Today, Katherine has deleted her AshleyMadison.com profile, but is estranged from her husband and kids. She said she has turned to her faith for healing.
How come Jesus always gets this crap?
“It doesn’t matter how bad it is right now … how gross it is, how much horrible darkness is in your life … you can always turn your back on it, can always let it go,” Katherine said.
And her husband holds fast to his own faith –- that his wife will come home.
Okay, this just doesn’t make ANY sense. Katherine has found God, she’s estranged from her husband and kids — but he wants her to come home? So, in other words, this “estrangement” is Katherine’s idea? Like, she prefers living apart from them while she tries to be “adored” by every man? Poor Katherine. Cake is a horrible darkness. Like chocolate ganache.
“I don’t believe my marriage is over. … To me, this is just another chapter,” he said. “I see my wife as someone who’s struggling internally. … She’s someone I made a vow to and a promise to. … If things don’t get resolved, I want to know that I put forth every effort and I went out swinging, and I supported her the best I can. I don’t want to just walk away and give up.”
Dude, that’s exactly what you need to do. Walk away. Give up.