You, Mr. Savage, are a force for good in the world. On behalf of everyone who might be hurt by this Ashley Madison thing for one reason or another, thank you.

Now, since most people over 40 (and many younger people as well) out there are not tech-savvy enough to find, download, view and search the data, it's going to be interesting to see how many, and what sorts of, moral scolds and blackmailers are going to propagate this data...
I wish Dan had links to the studies that show the numbers of people who cheat, because the numbers I've seen are considerably lower - in the range of 25%-30% of American men and 15%-20% of American women. Those are still very substantial numbers and everyone who is attempting to have a lifelong faithful relationship ought to ask themselves the questions Dan proposes. I like his bullet analogy. However, it's just not true that infidelity is all but inevitable.
If I had the opportunity I'd discuss with you several points.

The first being why is your first response always seem to be "Do you really want to know?" It seems to me that is counter intuitive to all advice about every healthy choice. Be honest, be honest to yourself and others. And I for one value truthfulness over all things. You can't fix what you don't know is broken. I'd like my spouse to be honest to me. I'd also be very happy if my car was honest about it's problems or impending decision to break down on me.

And while the risk of disease might be lower with proper protection, unless discussed with me, I don't accept that risk. So by not being honest about it, I'm being threaten, to a degree that I don't feel comfortable with.

So simply, let's consider honesty and that value before accepting that fact that sneaking around happens.

Also, over the course of several years of listening to this and reading about cheating, I'm left to wonder where your statistics are founded. Are they generally based in Western culture? What about the differences in religion and monetary and general couples ability to find happiness? I for one find a deep coloration in these tendencies to rule break with cultures that glaze over the truth. Or pretend to live profound lives. As an atheist who tries not to be blinded by society, religion, or my own chemical urges, I find it much easier to be happy and not cheat in any form. See my constant poor performance in Monopoly. But back to that point, I don't know if I trust the throwing out of statistics that on my account vary enough regionally. Then I would ask about our environments, though that is a much deeper question about the science of data.

To that further point, there is always an argument present about what we are chemical or genetically predisposed to do. "Man" is not a monogamous creator. Most animals are not. And so we will cheat because we are fighting design. Which is an argument I would argue against completely. Our society is made up of fighting design. We implement social lessons for a better society. To live with each other better. From politeness, to gift giving, to not fucking murdering the guy who took your possession. So, to that point, I wonder how can we choose to ignore this social lesson and not the others?

In short, I value the truth. From my government, from my friends, from my therapist, from my lover. Everything else makes for a worse relationship.
Feel like I should have been on Ashley Madison now... :(
Eh, I won't look. My husband is way too smart to use an email I am aware of.

I also really doubt it.

As to why dan recommends not looking? That's based on what people generally tell him. Ymmv.
I'm surprised at how many people apparently used their work address. Back when I was online dating, I created throw-away accounts for my profiles. That way when I found someone I wanted to exchange emails with, I didn't have to disclose my real email address to someone who might be crazy. My wife did the same thing.

Mind you, this was for non-secretive online dating. I would think people looking to cheat on their partners would be even more conscious of security than that.
"If you look at your partner and think I love you so much I could take a bullet for you, just if and when it happens, remember that feeling, because that’s the moment where you take the bullet."

Arg. No, it isn't; that's when you find out that your partner isn't that person you said you'd take a bullet for. Completely different.

You'd take a bullet for the person you thought your partner was. Now, you're finding out that person was an act this stranger was putting on. Maybe this stranger has a lot in common with who you thought they were, but maybe they don't, and you have no way to know, and the only thing you do know for sure is that they can't be trusted to help you figure it out.

This is nothing at all like taking a bullet for someone you know and love.
I would take a bullet FOR my husband. I wouldn't take a bullet FROM my husband. Big difference.
Also, what @7 and @8 said. It's not the pain that this issue, Dan. It's that your partner subjected you to that pain because s/he is a cheating piece of shit. That the pain is caused by your partner is the issue, not the pain itself.

To crystalize the distinction: would you stay with your partner if s/he hit you? Why not... getting hit isn't that painful.
I'd take a bullet for my husband, but not if he were the one firing it.
@8 & @10 - That's a very good way of putting it. I was wondering why Dan's analogy wasn't sitting well for me.
@10 for the win.

And conditional relationships are conditional. That you'd be willing to take a bullet for someone who isn't a cheating piece of shit says nothing about whether you'd take a bullet for someone who is.

If someone's willing to loan you her car while you're disguised as her husband, but not when you aren't, that doesn't mean she's a hypocrite.
Hm. Everyone going with the revised bullet-firing analogy seems to be suggesting that an (attempted or consummated) affair is evidence of a direct intent to harm their spouse. But of course, that's not true; I think cheaters who are thinking "this'll show my husband/wife!" are very much in the minority; instead, it's most often an absence of thought or consideration that's going on. Their behavior is thoughtless and selfish, but to characterize it as malicious doesn't quite hit the mark. Wrong? Of course. But how wrong? That's the question.
@11, that's why we need to ban guns and bullets, because it's possible some of those AM profiles were from actual cheaters who intended to harm somewhat-loved ones.
@13: Bullets that you just didn't bother to point away from your wife: They still hit your wife, even if you only shot her through astonishing dipshit negligence rather than murderous intent. She's still likely to be pissed. And hurt.

It's possible to hurt someone without doing something solely to hurt them. In fact, it's pretty damn easy.
This site purports to do lookups in the stolen AM database.

It may well be something far more nefarious, so beware.
Nice, Dan. Thoughtful of you to worry about the spouses of all those cheating fat bastards.
Funny that most of them were men, sending off little fantasy profiles to nobody.
Make sure you're wearing that little black no I know you've got, sans knickers. I'm going to ram it up you right at your front door. Oh yeah baby.
Hey Dan, what is your advice to Josh Duggar?...…

Oh a double dish of schadenfreude with some crocodile tears of Tony Perkins on the side, please..
@18: Oh, shit. I'm guessing that's the first of many conservative "family values" douchebags who will be outed in the days to come. Schadenfreud-licious.
Lavagirl, you're sounding all weird and bitter. Get a grip, girlfriend - you often have very nice and sensible things to say, if a bit elliptically phrased. Dan's one of the good guys. So are you.
@17,@15 classic responses from people who dont understand men and their attitudes and genetic/hormonal predispositions towards sex. the reasons people 'cheat' are often internal and external and incredibly complex, as much as you'd like to reduce them to 'cheating bastards'. ashley madison was a really dumb place for men to look for partners because most of the female profiles were fake so as to lure paying customers. not to mention the fact that anything online has no guarantee of staying private. caveat emptor.

would you be so gleefully cheering a hack that outed men or women on a LGBT hookup site? or any other behavior outside the 'norm'?

i wish this would move our puritanical culture closer to more continental attitudes towards relationships and affairs, but by tomorrow this will be just another clickbait story.
The idea that every person on that site is a cheater that had it coming is very short-sighted to me as we do not know their stories or circumstances. Everyone seems to be praising the airing of dirty laundry here, but where does it stop and who gets to decide what should be exposed? A bunch or nerdy hackers?

I'm not sure I agree with the way Dan presented it, but I do feel there is a difference between sex and intimacy and sexual infidelity just isn't a deal breaker for me. Intimacy infidelity is where I see a betrayal that I'm not sure I could come back from.
@Lava - or maybe I'm just completely misunderstanding you. That's definitely a possibility.
@21: Where and when did I cheer on the the hack? Quote it, please.

Most people aren't praising the hackers, they're disagreeing with Dan's notion that you can break the deal without releasing the other party from commitments they made to that deal. 'Cause you can't; breaking the deal means the deal no longer applies. You can make a new deal if you want, but you don't get to enforce the one you decided to break.
@24. i guess i was extrapolating your comment about the 'cheating piece of shit'. a lot of people who have affairs are actually very good, and very human, and imperfect people. and who am i to judge them and their marriage? i know a lot of people who have had affairs and who have been cheated on. i'm in both groups. and realize in each of the situations, all of the people involved were doing the best withh the tools they had.

i agree with dan in that the way people spout off BS platitudes like 'i'd tkae a bullet for someone' doesnt mean much until its tested. and for those people, this is a good test.
@21 "Cause you can't; breaking the deal means the deal no longer applies. You can make a new deal if you want, but you don't get to enforce the one you decided to break."

Dan basically makes the same point you make when he quotes Esther Perel at the end.

"When a couple comes to me in the aftermath of an affair that has been revealed, I will often tell them this: Today in the West most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages. And some of us are going to do it with the same person. Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?"
Oops, meant @24.
Oh Lance, you are funny.
It just so cute that Dan thinks to write to the partners of these people, the fat bastard cheating scum bags.
and I also thought it instructive that these cheaters were sending their profiles to no one, cause most of them are men. That's strange, mostly men. Typing error perhaps?
Thank you. All that said, it's probably a really good time to have an honest talk with your spouse about monogamy -- are we good at it, do we like it, are we willingly choosing it, etc. -- if you haven't already had that conversation. And, quite honestly, it should be a conversation that happens more than once as people and life situations change.
I don't agree with the hackers, Lance.
Or them posting 30 million names.
People want to cheat and lie, not my business.
I read in the paper names are coming thru for Australians. Some sweaty brows this morning, I guess.
“Learn your lesson and make amends.” That's the message from the hackers to the cheaters. And they aren't just publishing names; they are posting financial data that will allow criminals to hurt not only the cheaters/wannabes, but their families as well.

This whole thing has the smell of the self-righteous punishing sinners and damn the consequences. And I can't help wondering who they're going to punish next.
I'm in the "I'd take a bullet but less likely to do so when fired from your gun" camp. Thanks to those who clarified that issue.

For a long time, I was pleased that Dan would take such a strong stance against adultery. But it feels to me, lately, like he's been watering that position down significantly. The hypothetical 1-time slip-up which he thinks significant numbers of people wouldn't want to know about more easily becomes a 2nd time and 3rd time the less we think it necessary to disclose to our partners. That's a slippery slope that I personally wouldn't want to encourage by discouraging honesty in my relationships.

Early releases of information are showing that we'll get to see a distinction between those who simply signed up and those who had paid accounts. So, the idea that this will be a blunt tool may not be true; I'd make a distinction if my partner had a paid account at AM.
"Family Values Activist Josh Duggar Had a Paid Ashley Madison Account"…
Dan Savage is probably in the leaked database.
Dear, dear.. Josh Duggar, who would ever guess it of that boy.
Looks like there is going to be some heated discussions over dinner time, in a few households. Could be an opportunity for some truths about some marriages.
I feel really bad for the wives who have to deal with the shame of their supposed cheating men. The women who will be beaten by men who will react violently to seeing their women's email address on their, whether they were just curious. The kids who will face ridicule and whispering at school over their parents pain and private lives.

And most of all, the gay men in the middle east who face execution
@36: You don't feel bad for the men who have to deal with the shame of their supposedly cheating women? Not all guys respond to cheating with beatings. Some of us just feel like complete shit for a while.
Hoping to see some Palins (not Michael) soon. Wonder if Bristol could be on it, since she has never been married.
@37 - was using generic examples. Yes, of course, I feel bad for the public pain of the cheated on spouse regardless of gender. For me, at least, if Mrs. Horton cheated it would be far worse if everyone else knew.
@18, @33: If only all those gay marriages hadn't forced him into it!
@39. Gotcha, and totally agree. That's why I have such contempt for philandering politicians who make their humiliated, supposedly "forgiving" wives stand next to them when they're trying to spin the fallout. What assholes.
I too found the bullet analogy ridiculous. Accepting pain for a loved one is in a different class than the pain of betrayal by a loved one. Also ridiculous: All the justifications for cheating because "men crave sexual variety" or "humans by nature are non-monogamous." We think because monogamy can be challenging it's against human nature. Whether it's part of our human nature to be sexually exclusive or not is irrelevant. There are many elements of our "human nature" that we do not indulge. We're violent and competetive and territorial, but we don't always express those impulses in a civilized society. Nobody tries to argue that because some men have naturally hot tempers no one should look down on them for beating their kids. Monogamy is a value that many couples embrace, and it's a perfectly valid choice. It's also completely achievable--Dan, I love you, but you need to stop talking like infidelity is something that just happens to some people, like getting struck by a car. No one is forced into being unfaithful, they walked into that situation with open eyes. All that to say--as monogamy is a valid choice, so is non-monogamy. But don't tell your partner one thing and do another. Negotiate honestly for what you want. Doing otherwise makes you a CPOS.
First, OMG, dancing dancing dancing for Josh Duggar being caught out. Ug, I can't stand those people.

Second, thank you all for pinpointing what is wrong about the whole "take a bullet" analogy and why I didn't like it. Exactly. This is your lover playing russian roulette with your heart. The lover points the gun and pulls, knowing there is a chance the chamber is loaded (you will find out.) I myself did cheat in marriage one. By the time we were there, I didn't care if he hurt because I despised him. He was cruel and mean to me, and pressured me into swinging. I was grabbing at anything that could make me happy. The cheating did. Now, with the man I am with now, I'd never point that gun. (I wish I'd left in the first marriage too).

Sure, our lovers may betray us many times, but there is such a thing as different layers of betrayals, even among cheating. I'd forgive my spouse for a one time slip up (he knows this btw). I'd never forgive him for a long affair.

In addition, I am sick of hearing about the "continental view" on this, as if the French are so more civilized about adultery. The truth is its always the big men in power who have their mistresses and the wives just have to accept that, you know, rich and powerful men cheat. You never hear about the wives taking on lovers and their husbands saying, "but of course...." Don't. think. so.

Third, I agree actually Horton. I have a faked dating profile called "Black Angus" on POF. Google it, and you will see why. Long story why its there, my husband knows about it, (its for a dude, not a woman anyway). It was set up as a joke and I can't figure out exactly how to shut it down, and I don't care anyway because its free. So you know, we just don't know who these people are or whether they actually did anything, and maybe their marriages were rotten, but there are kids. I don't think people should get in trouble for taking a peek.

I will say, I am not that concerned about people knowing publicly that your local private citizen in mid-level management cheated from this. There is ssooo much information that, while a wife might look for Joe Smoe is there, his neighbor down the street just doesn't care. Of course, all the public people, including dill-wads like the Duggars. Ha, open season!.
Like a lot of you, the bullet/cheating analogy doesn't quite hold water, but it's not without its merit. There is something to be said for thinking "I will endure a large amount of pain so we can be together," but that amount of pain will definitely be different depending on its source. I do think intention plays a large part; someone who cares little for their partner's well being and is seeking pleasure for themselves doesn't get the same second chance privileges as someone who made a mistake and feels genuine remorse for their actions and how they have affected their partner. Likewise, someone who is proactive about changing their habits which led to their infidelity gets far more leniency than someone who throws up their hands and goes, "welp, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't help myself!"

Monogamy is very important to me, but I also know that at times it's very hard. You don't get kicked out of school for failing an assignment. If it's important to you, you study harder and do better next time. I don't know what I would do if I found out a partner cheated, because it would be very hard to let go of that hurt, but I feel at least I could understand it on some level because I've been tempted before, and if circumstances were slightly different I could have been on the other side of the equation.
@34 - Imma blow your mind with this, but openly monogamish gay men are literally the last people on Earth who would need to PAY a site like Ashley Madison to find a hookup.
I am firmly against hacking and extortion and I am stunned to see this data was released. However, because Dan mentioned all the cheated upon spouses who've told him they wish they'd never known, I feel a need to speak up as someone who was grateful to learn the truth when my spouse was cheating. Being aware of the state of your relationship allows you to make informed decisions about your partnership as it relates to other aspects of your intertwined lives. For instance, if you knew your spouse was misrepresenting whether he/she was monogamous, would that alter your decision to have a(nother) child together, buy a house together, move across the country for the spouse's employment opportunity, drop out of the workforce to raise kids, etc? Whether the ultimate decision is to maintain the status quo, go to counseling, separate, enact an agreed upon DADT policy or open the marriage, I'm not judging that for others, but I do think it's shitty to withhold information unless the partner has specifically stated they would rather not know. And yes, I understand some people truly would rather not know.
So many good comments on here today. Gives me some hope really.

@46...I think Dan misrepresents the number of people who wouldn't want to know. thinking more about this today...I think Dan is making a mistake in suggesting that people shouldn't look. This is a completely unprecedented situation. In short order, someone will build this out on a web site that makes searching the data as easy as google. And at that point, EVERYONE will be capable of knowing what your spouse did. It's completely impractical to not know at that point, to choose not to look. You want your boss to know? Your parents? Your friends? All while not knowing yourself? No, this changes everything; if your spouse or SO is on the list, you need to know.

No way around it now.
Even more important, you need to know if your financial information was compromised. It's not only the cheaters/wannabes who will be hurt by that.
"the research and the data shows that roughly 50% of men, 50% of women, in long-term relationships, at some point will cheat. And those 50% of men are not married to those 50% of women. So it will touch almost all committed monogamous relationships"

Nope. And stop spreading the idea that women can't do math.
@42 and others who misconstrue Savage's message

First, yes Savage's math is simplistic and wrong, but the larger point he makes is true. Regardless of what you believe about monogamy, the odds are that the monogamous commitment you make will not last. For those who make monogamous commitments like most of us do (consciously or not) on our wedding day in our 20s and 30s the majority will not make it till death do us part. About half will end in divorce (some under the strain of monogamy). Of those who remain married, anywhere from 25-75% of men will cheat depending on whose stats are to be believed, and depending on your definition of cheating. Women's rates of infidelity are catching up. All of this before and in the face of emerging technology that will make it easier to cheat. So Dan's question is accurate - infidelity is likely going to happen, so how are you going to deal with it?

Dan's second point is also valid, especially in the face of the Ashley Madison breach: Are you really better off with this information? You can think of plenty of analogies. Medical ethics currently struggles with this as we uncover more genetic diseases. Is it really good for the patient to know they carry the gene for ALS when there is only a slightly elevated risk and there is nothing we can do about it? More analogous, if you could eavesdrop on your spouse, would you want to know that she laments not giving it a better shot with her ex who was a far better lover?

Of course, there is a natural curiosity, which is what I think a lot of people say they would want to know if their spouse had cheated (is actively cheating with no intention to stop is another question). If their was a database that told me when and how I was going to die, I would check it, eventually, but it would not improve my quality of life, and likely diminish my mental state.

Now combine the two concepts. Your monogamous commitments are not likely going to hold. For those who are otherwise happy in what they perceive to be their monogamous commitment, are you really better off with the truth?

@50: "About half will end in divorce (some under the strain of monogamy)."

Just FWIW, the first part's a myth: Half of all marriages end in divorce, not half of all married people get divorced: They're counting the marriage, not the people in it. This means for every Rush Limbaugh (married 7 times) there are 7 marriages that don't end. Statistically, most people who get married stay that way. My uncle's been married 4 times. That's 4 marriages that ended in divorce, so in order for half to end that way, each of him means there are 4 couples that won't.

Serial marriages skew the stats, because they count the act of marriage rather than the people in it. First marriages tend to last until death.
I should add the caveat that the statistics on this aren't high-quality to begin with, since it's not an easy thing to measure (since for a really accurate measurement, you'd need everyone to be both 1: perfect record-keepers and 2: dead).
I dislike "keeping information from you for your own good." This is incredibly paternalistic and, IMHO, used for the comfort of the one holding the information, not for the poor poor pitiful faithful spouse. Once someone is an adult, they should be treated at such, and that means providing them the information to govern their lives according to what they believe is right. I have agency. It is my decision whether or not to stay with a CPOS, not my friend's, my auntie, or whomever has learned my spouse is cheating.
@50 Tim - Marriages end for a number of reasons. Monogamy can create too great a strain, as can cheating or even the complications of an open marriage. There is no model that will not strain the marriage under certain circumstances. Whether or not non-monogamy is becoming easier or more common or inevitable or whatever, it doesn't remove the ability for the spouse contemplating non-monogamy to honestly communicate that to the other spouse. In many cases, more long-term damage is done by the loss of trust than by the non-monogamous sexual acts. The other partner deserves to know the true state of their partnership if they went into agreeing it would be monogamous. As far as I'm concerned, the only reasonable exceptions to this would be 1) other partner has stated they would rather not know, 2) other partner is unable to engage in such a conversation due to dementia, coma, something similar.
the big problem is that people with accounts on AM arent by definition 'cheaters'. - yes, they may have thought about it, or were curious, but not guilty of anthing. i would be seriously curious as to how many hookups actually occurred.

im also suicious of this whole story....cant believe that AM is that profitable since easy hookup aps like tndr and zoosk are out there now. so did the owner of AM decide to leak these stories (for pay) to the tabloids etc?
@50 Tim - To be clear, I do understand spontaneous situations occur when people feel tempted and out of control in the moment and therefore it is unrealistic to expect someone will always be in the frame of mind to consult their spouse *before* acting on an urge.

In this particular case, we are talking about people who've set up accounts on a site created to facilitate cheating. Nothing spontaneous about it.
@54 - One minor area of disagreement. You said: "In many cases, more long-term damage is done by the loss of trust than by the non-monogamous sexual acts."

That is only true if the cheating partner gets caught. If I have an affair and get away with it, there is no damage done to the relationship. The mere non-monogamous sexual act isn't causing any damage, assuming no diseases and it is successfully pulled off in private. But for the breach, lot's of affairs would have stayed in the past. Or to channel my best Scooby Doo: "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids"

Note - I am not on Ashley Madison nor would I have ever been that stupid to believe it was anything other than a sausage party. And I can't imagine why anyone used their real name. But there is a social good to this. These adulterers (or would be adulterers) and the sacrificial lamb for the new normal of de-stigmatizing private shame. When the next sensitive privacy breach comes, and it's the medical records from your local hospital, and your neighbors see you have herpes, are on anti-anxiety meds, struggle with E.D., have IBS, the shame of that invasion will become less because of this first humiliation. We will soon realize what embarrass us because of social stigma (herpes, ED, being unable to keep monogamous commitments) shouldn't, because they are common. And we will adjust our moral scorn directed at purely private behavior accordingly.
"And I can't imagine why anyone used their real name."

It's a pay site -- if you have to use a credit card and make regular payments, it becomes a lot more challenging to use a fake name than on OK Cupid.
I like Dan Savage but that's a crock. Infidelity is a bullet that your loved one fires at YOU! I turn that around- if you love someone, you don't shoot them in the back. And that's what cheating is. It's shooting someone in the back.
@60: I think it's more like closing your eyes, spinning around, and firing a gun blindly with your partner in the room. You would certainly prefer that your partner not get hit, just like you would prefer your partner not find out about the affair. You might also think that you're so skilled at marksmanship/ affair hiding that your partner "probably" won't get hit. But the fact remains that there is a non-trivial risk your partner will get hit/find out. And that you're not about to let that risk to your partner interrupt the joy you get from firing that gun/having that affair.

So I wouldn't necessarily ascribe an intent to hurt your partner in having an affair. More like a reckless disregard for your partner's well-being.
@58...I roundly reject the oft-cited notion that there's no harm if the infidelity remains unknown.

I was in that situation once, where I eventually found out about the affair, but the woman I was with thought that because I didn't know about it there was nothing wrong. But the reason I found out is that the affair she was having was causing all manner of detriment to our relationship even when I didn't understand why. This idea that you can direct your romantic interest elsewhere, steal time and energy and resources from your current relationship and direct them to another, and that there's no harm in that is pure folly; it's simply the justification used by the cheater, a way to salve their own conscience about it.
@ 62 - An affair will almost inevitably be found out, because, as you say, it causes all manner of detriment to the relationship.

A one-off, even numerous one-offs, can easily go undetected if the non-monogamous partner is a bit careful. In such a case, it would be hard to argue that it is inherently harmful.
@62 - I agree with everything you've said here and will add some other potential consequences: 1) cheated upon partner might be making value judgment to remain monogamous in exchange for shared monogamy when they would otherwise seize outside sex opportunities or other relationship opportunities themselves, 2) cheated upon partner may make choices that make him/her more dependent on his/her partner that he/she would not make if he/she was aware of the truth, 3) cheating partner may fall for outside partner, destabilizing the marriage 4) cheating partner may become less aroused by primary partner as compared to fling partner, creating more tension, 5) cheating partner may suffer self esteem issues as a result of knowing their mate might not want to remain with them if they knew the truth, 6) fling of cheating partner may have his/her own agenda that interferes with the marriage, 7) fling might get pregnant, 8) if cheating was either prompted or rationalized by a problem within the marriage (as is sometimes, but not always, the case), that problem is not being addressed in a positive way to improve the marriage, 9) cheating partner may catch and transmit STDs to spouse, some of which have no symptoms to prompt testing but can be very damaging when left untreated. This is just off the top of my head.
@62 Futurecatlady... amen.
@64: Agreed. I think part of the point is that cheating exposes the relationship (and the cheated-on partner) to a lot of risk--and exposing someone to risk is a consequence, even if you get lucky and nothing comes of it.
@63 "A one-off, even numerous one-offs, can easily go undetected" -- in theory, yes. In practice, he got sick of keeping his one-off secret after six months and told me, in part to clear the air and in part to start a conversation about rebuilding trust and opening the marriage. I suppose it depends on how well you know yourself and your ability to keep an important secret from your life partner over decades to come.
futurecatlady, you speak so much common sense. The idea that a partner can go outside a monogamous relationship for sex and not damage the relationship does not make any sense to me. It's keeping a big secret from your partner (I can't see it as a small secret, maybe that's my problem!) and the strain of keeping a secret, as EricaP's husband has experienced, takes a toll on all but the most utterly cold fish.
Eudaemonic @ 51, thanks for the statistical good sense. My eldest brother is now on his 4th marriage so I guess he's one serial marriage-type skewing the stats! Years ago I remember meeting an American woman who told me she'd been married three times but never lived with anyone out of wedlock, and then went on to tell me "Americans LOVE getting married, honey! We do it over and over again!" She was pretty odd, though.
Just saw Savage on MSNBC and what a tool. He thinks that it is alright to out the information about Duggar because Duggar is a hypocrite, but he thinks that other people who may be in public positions (i.e. politicians. etc) should not be outed unless it proves they are hypocrites. What a lame double standard. Any person who is a public official or who leads a very public life should be outed if they are on this Ashley website....there should be no special circumstances for ones and not for others If you are going to cheat then be prepared to get caught and face the consequences.
So I did check, this morning, and just saw this article tonight. His email address is on the list. I've been thinking all day about whether to say anything and what that might be. He hasn't wanted to have sex with me in many years - I've been celibate, basically, for a decade. We did counseling for years, we're mostly over being really mad at each other. But the sex is over. I'm too young to go the rest of my life without sex. But we're raising kids together, we sometimes have nice conversations about work or whatever, he's pretty supportive of my career and vice versa. We're like each others' second best friend. So maybe I won't say anything - I've assumed for years that he's probably at least looking around outside of the marriage. So -- pretty stumped. Maybe bringing it up sparks a new round of honesty which leads too... something.
jahphotogal @70, have you two ever talked about the possibility of an open marriage? Do you already know his thoughts on that topic, and does he know yours?
@ 67 - I'm not condoning it - you already know I'm for total honesty all the time - but I know some people who've pulled it off. Perhaps they were aided by their SO's desire not to know, though.
@73 herrbrahms - I think it's unrealistic to expect partners' sex drives to be perfectly compatible throughout all stages of life. Both partners' sexual drive and abilities will likely fluctuate over time, and it should be a shared goal for both partners to enjoy the sex they are having with each other. A demand-submit model is not likely to result in a satisfying physical connection for both parties (unless that's their shared kink), especially on a long-term basis. If I had a partner who couldn't get it up as often as I liked, I wouldn't consider it a betrayal, but I might want to understand what was going on.

There are alternatives to cheating that don't carry as much risk to the relationship bond. An honest conversation, for starters. And if there isn't enough middle ground or motivation to find a mutually satisfying solution, a request to open the marriage seems reasonable to me in such a case. Choosing to cheat is essentially opening the marriage anyway, just in secrecy and only on one side.

Some people are truly fine with the "I just don't want to know about it" model, but I don't think it's enough to assume a partner is fine with DADT, I think the request needs to be explicit. Just my opinion.
@73 And of course separation or divorce are options, as well.
I'm also raising my hand to say communications doesn't always work. One way or another, these issues work out as mismatched libidos, or at least mismatched sexual interests. How is it that the person who doesn't want the sex, or a particular kind of sex the moral champion, and the person who cannot get what they want from their spouse despite years of trying and compromise (and then they get the thing their spouse does not want from somebody outside the marriage) the party in the wrong?

There are definitely spouses who want it both ways: they want to say both: "I'm not going to do that with you", and also "and we are married and if you get it from anybody else you are also wrong". Sometimes it comes with a third judgement "also you are wrong for even wanting that thing that I don't want". Communications doesn't fix this, it just re-iterates to the unsexed spouse that the only solution to them ever getting the sex they need (need, not want) is to go to somebody beside their partner.

Somebody earlier started talking about betrayals in the marriage. If cheating is the betrayal, there also needs to be a word for the lack of compromise that leads to the cheating for an unsexed / undersexed spouse.

And this is where I have about 5% of sympathy for the Duggar guy. Not because he's not a horrible person, but because maybe he was doing the least bad thing in his marriage, and him and his wife can't come up with a workable compromise, and cheating is more moral than him leaving his wife and kids.
@76 & @77 In such a situation, a respectful option is to say "My needs aren't getting met. We've been unable to reach a workable solution and I'm unwilling to continue making this sacrifice. I want to remain married to you but I'll be getting my physical needs met elsewhere."

Husbands and wives are constantly compromising and sacrificing for one another. Sometimes there are deal breakers, whether related to sex, reproduction, careers, relocation, finances, etc. All of these things should be discussed openly. Sex compromises should not be exempt, IMO.
@76 And yes, some partners would respond to this assertion by choosing to end the marriage, even if the factors you mentioned (community property, kids) are present. It's their right to make that value judgment.
@76 It's perfectly possible to want to have sex with someone outside the marriage, even as you enjoy domestic life with your spouse.

The wanting is very common among both men and women, so I'll assume we're talking more about the doing. I understand what you are saying. Some people want to continue enjoying certain aspects of marriage and do not want to potentially risk losing those benefits by disclosing that they have outside sex partners. I have a problem with this line of thinking because the spouse is an equal partner in the marriage and may feel differently. Hiding this aspect of the marriage robs them of their right to make informed decisions, and also may expose them to risks they're unaware of. Some spouses truly do not want to know and will say so. Nothing wrong with that if it works for both partners.

@77 If cheating is the betrayal, there also needs to be a word for the lack of compromise that leads to the cheating for an unsexed / undersexed spouse.

I believe it's called sexual incompatibility.
Let's also acknowledge the fact that "stopped having sex with me" doesn't always, or even usually, occur in a vacuum. Some people stop having sex with their spouses because the sex is bad/huge weight gain/drop in partner attractiveness, but they're afraid of hurting their spouse by bring it up, and default to allowing them to assume that it was simply a libido drop. Some people (often women, it seems) have a large libido drop in response to very long term monogamy. Some people never had very passionately sexual feelings about their spouse, but valued their company enough to stomach the sex for the first few years, and honestly believed they'd be able to keep that up.

But here's another thing that doesn't get brought up very much, if ever, on Savage Love: there are lots of women out there who regularly consent to sex with their partners not out of desire, but because they're afraid their partner will cheat on them. I see this most often in women in their teens and early 20s, and I can see how this could get exhausting if the relationship lasted for a number of years.

In cases where there's a failure to communicate, like cheating on your partner, or not having sex with your partner for reasons that might hurt them if they knew, people's self-protecting biases tell them they're doing the right thing because they're avoiding something they expect may hurt their partner, but in reality it's often just because they're unwilling to be uncomfortable in order to be fair to their partners. I'm with Dan Savage when he says that a single deception in a 50 year marriage, one event with a stranger that you never see again and that has a really minuscule chance of ever being found out by anyone, is something that you should keep buried forever and never burden your partner with. I'm also with Dan when he says that a man (or woman) who hasn't had sex in 5 years because his wife is an invalid that he feels obliged to take care of, along with their children, gets a free pass to keep himself sane and, if he's discreet enough, maybe even a medal for unusual compassion. But the vast majority of cheaters are not cases like these, especially on a site like Ashley Madison. The vast majority do not deserve a pass, or even sympathy, because I think many partners, if given the choice, would choose to have an uncomfortable conversation and the ability to make the decision for themselves about what kind of relationship they'd like to be in. And I think that people assuming they know their partners well enough to know that they would be better off kept in the dark should either a) consider marrying an adult if that's really true, or b) ask themselves if that's not just (another) convenient fiction they've invented.

(Oh, and that statistic about cheating? That's the percentage of people that have *ever* cheated on a romantic partner, not the percentage that cheated on their current spouse. That number is a surprisingly low 12% of men and 7% of women, as of a year or so ago. Remember, cheating HS bfs/gfs are going to inflate a statistic that asks if you've *ever* cheated. Also, I suspect those super high 50% numbers are asking questions like "have you ever committed emotional infidelity on a partner?" Which, come on.)

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