The online dating world is growing each and every year, especially now with the pandemic and all the free time people had in hands. That said, there’s something you might not know: these websites and apps are not only for single people. Yes, you read that correctly. It might be shocking for some but there is a place online where married people can, deliberately, search for new partners.
On the market for almost 20 years, Ashley Madison is different from any other option in the online dating universe because they’ve decided to be the platform for those who are specifically looking for an affair.
Ashley Madison is the world’s leading married dating website available in more than 50 countries and 19 different languages. In the past year alone, the company had steady growth, with more than 5.5 million new male and female global registrants, representing more than 15,200 new members joining daily. The company also recently hit the 70-million-member milestone since its inception in 2002.
Paul Keable, Ashley Madison’s Chief Strategy Officer, tells us in more detail how this platform works.
Milénio Stadium: How and why did Ashley Madison come about?
Paul Keable: In 2002, the founders of Ashley Madison had reports revealing that an estimated 30% of people on popular singles dating sites were actually married and lying about their situation in order to have an affair. That was the lightbulb moment for Ashley Madison, a site designed for married people who struggle with monogamy and often find themselves not wholly satisfied with their spouse. With discretion top of mind, Ashley Madison connects these individuals with like-minded people, all of whom can be very truthful about their needs and desires. Our goal is to help facilitate successful – undiscovered – affairs by taking them out of the workplace and out of one’s social circles. Over the years we’ve seen that people in several other relationship situations also value the discretion we offer, such as divorcees hoping to keep their dating life casual and private, as well as those exploring and participating in polyamory but who aren’t interested in sharing that information with the people around them. However, our primary demographic has always been married individuals seeking extramarital affairs.
MS: How does Ashley Madison work?
PK: The nature of our site makes us one of the most honest dating platforms there is. Our members are very truthful about what they’re looking for and what they want out of an affair, not just in their conversations with potential partners but right on their profiles. Many will keep their identity hidden by blurring their profile photo or adding graphics to conceal their face, but their desires are communicated at the upfront because, for many of them, they’ve gone years without fulfillment from their primary partner. That missing piece is most commonly sexual, as we’ve seen that physical intimacy decreases while familiarity grows – and marriage is not always welcoming of novelty. Sometimes, though, people just value having someone to talk to who will listen and understand. This has become especially prevalent during the COVID-19 lockdowns with spouses forced to spend more time together than ever before. Quarantine became a pressure cooker for marriages, and Ashley Madison has been the release valve many people have needed.
MS: How many users do you have?
PK: We’ve had more than 72 million members join our site globally since it was launched in 2002, which is a clear indicator that there is a demand for a service like ours. Even during the pandemic, more than five million people have signed up for Ashley Madison, and Canada was the second country in total 2020 revenue behind only the US.
MS: From what you know of your users’ stories, what implications does your service have on marriages?
PK: While many people may see those numbers and think marriages are failing around the world, we know the opposite to be true. Infidelity is not the end of a marriage – it’s often not even a sign of a bad or unhappy marriage. In fact, our members have explicitly told us that they still love their spouse, they still value the life they’ve built together and the companionship they share, but they’ve come to learn that it’s often not feasible to expect one person to fulfil every single one of their needs, which is what’s expected of a spouse. In a marriage, you’re meant to be each other’s lover, best friend, confidant, and source of peace, but these things aren’t always synonymous. Marriage more commonly equates to financial stability and co-parenting. Infidelity comes in as a marriage supplement, usually when the companionship and love is there but the sex is not.
MS: How can you guarantee the protection of your users’ data?
PK: As a site that facilitates discreet and undiscovered affairs, privacy and security are our top priorities. We have a very experienced and talented security team that has ensured that data protection is at the very core of our work culture and mentality and all new product and marketing initiatives are reviewed by our Chief Privacy Officer for privacy compliance. Data protection is an ongoing job with no set end, just a constant undertaking to help our members be as secure in their privacy as possible.