Letters From Ashley Madison Users


I will never understand why people just don't get divorced. Especially LW #2, really? LEAVE AND HAVE A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO WILL HAVE SEX WITH YOU AND GIVE YOU EVERYTHING ELSE. I find it impossible to empathize with these people. So much self created misery.
I do feel genuinely bad for people in the predicament of LW #2. In a perfect world where everyone acknowledged and encouraged the human need for physical intimacy regardless of marital status, maybe we wouldn't need sites like AM for people like her to have such a basic need fulfilled.

Somehow I doubt you'll get a lot of letters from the CPOS types who were AM members.
@2 YES.
LW1.. Please, if you have told your spouse, then believe that is the only person this really concerns. Many, many people around the world see this hack for what it is.. A Gross invasion of privacy.
LW2.. Glad to read you have found a good intimacy with your FWB and wow to you staying with your husband, and taking care of him.
I'm with @2 here...the answer is TO LEAVE.

And I'll continue to say...hearing one side of a story is not hearing the whole story. Dan makes this mistake over and over and over again. I understand that's how he makes his living, but until you hear both sides of a story, you can't even really begin to understand the reality of it.

Dan used to have a theory that infidelity was only acceptable in extremely rare cases where the partner was basically an invalid. But this AM extravaganza seems to be widening that standard significantly.

You're unhappy? You move on. Or you're honest about your intents to seek outside companionship and you give your partner the option to move on.
@2 - That's always my first thought too. People have different mindsets, live in different communities, face different social and economic pressures, etc.... I get that so I try to empathize, but JUST LEAVE is still my first, and last, thought.
I just want to ask @2 and the high-fivers: have you been in a marriage for that length of time? Do you understand how much more than just sex (or really, any other single element) goes into a marriage? A marriage is a blending of a lot of things, and tossing all that out - breaking up the entire partnership - over a single item isn't really good or helpful and often quite harmful for everyone involved. If the issue were "he won't go to museums and musicals with me" you wouldn't bat an eyelid about saying, "well, go on separate vacations and do that without him". LW2 isn't robbing her partner of anything - he doesn't want her sexuality. It would be entirely different if he wanted sex and she were refusing it to him while she was giving it to someone else.

As much as I think the AM hack is ultimately not a bad thing, I see no value in outing these people, and I'm sorry it exposes them to such social opprobrium. For LW1 I say: the only person whose opinion matters in this is your wife. Fuck everyone else and their high horse.
@8...if the issue were his lack of desire to go to museums, do you think LW#2 should simply tell him that she plans to go to museums with other people?

LW#2 should simply tell her spouse that she's seeking sexuality outside the relationship, and thereby give him the option to make an informed decision. Why is that a terrible thing to expect of people?
If there's one thing I've learned in my almost 53 years, it's that you never know what may find you doing something you never thought you'd do. I think we are all of us capable of virtually anything, given the right set of circumstances.
I hesitate to judge anyone without knowing more details than that they were on a hookup website. I hesitate to judge anyone for anything, actually.
The first letter is the only one that actually dresses what the issue really is: Ashley Madison itself is an exploitative pile of shit company that was running a not very sophisticated scam.

AM wasn't some heroic hook-up community for the love lost. It was by it's very nature subscription vaporware using illicit adultery as bait and a blackmailing scheme to get your information erased from their trap.

AM was busted artificially (interns were adding faked accounts) padding it's subscription numbers and then later capturing user info from trial accounts and counting them as subscribers. And THEN making those trail accounts pay to scrub the information. And, of course NOT scrubbing the information at all.

I have real hard time drumming up any sympathy for anybody fucking stupid enough to fall for the scam in first place. And an even harder time feeling sorry for shit-heel cheaters (who could do this shit for free).
Thank you @8 & @10. It is so easy to tell people to just break up. It is easy to have uncomplicated ideas about what constitutes integrity or what is best for others. But life is complicated. Divorce is hard on kids, often plunges people (more often women) into poverty, and is often associated with a loss of one's community and social circle. There are sometimes compelling reasons to stay together despite problems that most would consider deal-breakers. Don't be so quick to judge.
@Timothy: @5 you said "And I'll continue to say...hearing one side of a story is not hearing the whole story. Dan makes this mistake over and over and over again. I understand that's how he makes his living, but until you hear both sides of a story, you can't even really begin to understand the reality of it. "

I agree that we can't begin to understand the reality of anyone else's story--which is why I don't like to make statements like "You're unhappy? You move on. Or you're honest about your intents to seek outside companionship and you give your partner the option to move on. " People can have all sorts of very legitimate reasons for doing something other than these two things. We don't know their reality; we shouldn't be in such a rush to judgment.
Edit to #10: Should read "you never know when you may find yourself doing something you never thought you'd do."
Timothy, these guys been together 30 yrs, he is now sick. Yes, maybe somewhere along the line she could have pulled the plug.. Many would, including me. No sex means no marriage, to me.
Seems a lot of people in Sydney and Melbourne were on AM. We've had a few articles in papers re this, mostly damning the hackers. Now, it's no longer news. Is this an ongoing area for ranting in the US? That LW1 is having such a bad time of it, is very worrying. I hope he finds a way to just go, fuck it, yes I was on AM. I've owned up to it with my wife, we are cool. So the rest of you can just go tend your own patch, don't worry 'bout mine.
Interesting that LW2's husband , was done with sex with her, yet was watching 20-40 hours of porn a week.
@12 Since when is using a a for profit corporate scum-bag service like Ashley Madison the productive venue to repair a shitty marriage?

Ye. We shouldn't judge their relationships because they are opaque to us.

But we sure as shit can judge their utter lack of foresight, intelligence, ethics and "judgment" for turing to scum-bags like AM as any sort of solution.
Let's be clear...LW's are asking to be judged by writing into Savage Love.

Let's leave aside the idea that we can't make judgements; that's why this whole endeavor exists.
@2 - I agree. I often think of what an honorable man Newt Gingrich was. His wife was sick, and the easy route would have been to take care of her while getting his needs met discreetly. But no, this man of integrity took the courageous move of divorcing his wife on her cancer bed. Not like the CPOS LW

His story is inspirational. Now excuse me while I tell my young children that mommy and daddy's relationship isn't working. They will understand. All children want is their parents to be happy. And fortunately there are no studies that show deleterious effects of divorce on children. Now we just have to figure out if they will stay at my house or moms in months beginning in J and ending in Y. Assuming mom can find a place to live nearby, it is an expensive school district.
Are they asking to be judged, Timothy.. At this time. Or just hoping for a safe harbour. Think that enough judging has occurred for them, and by the sound of both of them.. They are harshly judging themselves.
@18 False comparisons.

What Gingritch COULD'VE done is tell his wife BEFORE she had cancer that he wanted to sleep with other women and BEFORE he had a four year affair.

All these people could actually be honest with her spouses. That's what they could do.

And they could have affairs without using Ashley god damned Madison, to boot.

Dan, love you man, but there are a mass of grown adults who are refusing to take responsibility for their dishonesty and somehow we monogamous folks are having to endure a heap of criticism from the likes of you. Fuck that. You've chosen to live by an agreement designed by your partner and yourself, that's beautiful, but you're not allowed to rewrite our vows and call us names for being faithfully monogamous.
A bunch of cheaters got busted. It must suck. Shit, I've been caught doing some pretty fucked up stuff and had to own up to it, I know how it feels. But I didn't kill myself, I didn't blame the world for criticizing me, I didn't tell everyone that THEY'RE doing it all wrong and should adopt MY way of living. Nope, I stood up, blasted through the wall of the bullshit of my own making and I got on with my life. These people have some work to do. I wish them the best of strength and clarity on their journey. The world will forget about all of them by next news cycle.

Meanwhile, stop calling us monogamous folks names like "puritanical", for fucks sake. You're hip, we get it, you can fuck all sorts of folks outside of your marriage, but these people on AM did not cheat due to our puritanical leanings, they cheated because they chose dishonesty. How they're choosing to deal with being exposed is a bit whiny and blamey. Do whatever you want with whoever you want, I don't care, but don't start taking swipes at me for making a life decision that differs from yours, one based on honesty, integrity and respect for my husband.
@21 Amen.
@19...you write a letter to Savage Love, hoping to be highlighted by Dan Savage for all the world to see...you're asking to be judged. Surely, most people are hoping to be judged as RIGHT! by Dan...and that's a bit narcissistic. And we always should take into account that when people are asking to have their lives judged in this way, my guess is the present their case in the very best light they can...so we have to consider that as well. But yes, they are asking to be judged.
I chose a monogamous life in my 30 yr marriage, doesn't mean I get to blast everyone who doesn't. I don't feel Dan etc are directing the puritanical label on me, because of monogamy@21.. The puritanical label is for those harshly judging the AM users. This wasn't a kiddy porn site. It was( hopefully it's so over now), for people who couldn't/ wouldnt/ didn't know how to.. Deal with the sexual issues in their life, any other way. Or were/ are just scumbags. A big mix of motivations would have lead to their going on this site. None of our business. That's the take out here.. The rest of us, it's none of our business.
dan, these are very touching. thanks for sharing, and thanks for your great insight/discourse on the entire issue as its unfolded over the past week.
@24...you keep misdirecting the conversation. Discussing the ethics/morality of these LW's is not judging in the classical sense. We are all engaged in a thought exercise. Again, Dan exists and these LW's exist because they are presenting ethical questions and we are engaged in exploring those ethical questions.

If what they really want is a private, safe harbor, they can pay for a therapist like the rest of the world does.
Tim, what do you mean Mom can find a house nearby.. Mom usually stays in the family home. It's Dad who gets to find a house nearby. Usually. But I guess there isn't no usual anymore.
Yeah well. Thems the breaks. Children do adapt Tim. My kids now, youngest 18, don't give a rats arse about my inner life, and that's how it should be.
Not their business if I'm happy or not. Of course they notice stuff, but they don't want to know stuff.
Children want their parents together. Of course they do. They also don't want either parent sick or to die or to be cross with them. Little children just want a nice, happy home. And don't we all.
I don't think children want their parents to lie. I don't think children would be happy, yrs from now, to know that daddy or mommy lied and cheated.
It won't be visible to them that their parent did it to keep the family together. All they will see are the lies and the cheating.
Well Timothy, I'm guessing the therapist couch might get a bit of wear over the coming yrs. And they wrote to Dan.. He is the safe harbour.
I think AM is a dispicable idea. Ugly and against all I know about trust and loyalty and shared work in a family.
And I agree, front your partner with the truth and handle the fallout.. I hate lies. I hate deceit and I hate cheating. Still, over 30 odd million people joined that site, that's a lot of morally corrupt people. They can't all be shithead losers. Not the whole lot of them.
So, I judge none of them. Because I don't know their stories, don't know the situations of 30 odd million people. These two people Dan has shared the letters of.. I can see where they are coming from.
LW2, yes.. Leave the guy.. That's what I would have done. Some dick watching so much porn, I wouldn't want to share a house with. And he wouldn't fuck me. I'd have been out the door many yrs ago.
Now though, he's sick. Now, it's different.

@27 - and there are lots of children out there who are grown and well adjusted who grew up in intact families and have no clue that mom cheated on dad during a rough patch in their marriage but mom was respectful enough to hide her tracks. And the family remained a family.

And why should dad move out? Mom can't afford the mortgage. She is going to lose the house. Dad can afford it. Children don't want their parents to live a lie, as you said @27. I will be sure to let them know why dad and mom can't find a sexual compromise.

I am being intentionally obstructionist, of course. It's shining a mirror of the black and white thinking espoused @2 and others. Life is full of nuance.
I hate to say it, but the more I see if these letters, the less sympathy I have, and I was initially very sympathetic. Firstly, I am a former CPOS. There were extenuating circumstances to be sure. After the lid blew off and all the sordid details came out, some said of my (ex) husband that he had been hoisted on his own petard. Afterwards.... after all the destruction... I learned its better to be clean and quick and end it in the vast majority of the situations. And as a child of divorce.... please lord divorce! We know your miserable and being nasty to one another. Just end it.

Secondly, its always the same justification ... he/she isn't giving me what I need. But isn't that what all these people say? My husband is mean. My wife wont ever sleep with me. Never being touched, LW2, that is hell. Why not b honest "if you wont sleep with me I'm gone."

I was a flaming coward. I never should have married my ex and when I was so under the water desperately miserable I should have left. I want to ask some of these people writing in whether its true they can't leave - a dying husband per example - or whether they are too nice and comfy getting their needs met through the oblivious spouse. In other words, are they truly staying for their spouse..... or their own self interests. I really feel its more the latter. Every cheater has a justification because no one wants to be the bad guy.

That said, I definitely believe at this point the hackers are POS. I also believe its none of my business what people do īn their private lives, and the self righteousness malice by others is pretty dark ages. I am waiting for the stones to come out.
@29...this idea that "mom was respectful enough to hide her tracks" is a mythical justification for cheating.

Mom chose to have an affair with a person who perhaps doesn't share mom's penchant for discretion. Now not only does that other person know more details about mom and dad than dad does...so does anyone the other man chooses to tell this story to.

You can't have discreet affairs; you're always compromising the family by that choice. This idea that you can ethically cheat and lie is ridiculous.

Are there outlier experiences? Of course! But we're being asked to judge general situations; to hold up the outliers as a way to say "it's ok...cheat all you want...just keep it quiet and all is well" is nonsense.

And I'll say again...I fully support any arrangement 2 or 10 or 20 people have. Fuck anyone and everyone. This isn't about sex. It's about integrity. And that starts with respecting the person you taken vows with. Or get out. That's the general rule; the exceptions are so rare and self-contained that they don't really need to be discussed.
@ patio666: Maybe I'm interpreting Dan and the rest of us here, but I don't think he's suggesting that all monogamous people are puritanical and he's not directing his "heap of criticism" at all "monogamous folks." Just the ones that are gleefully celebrating the Ashley Madison data dump on the grounds of "morality." There are plenty of monogamous folks who aren't taking pleasure in someone else's misery and plenty who aren't sitting back, arms folded in judgment, saying that these cheaters got what they deserved, and furthermore holding themselves up as morally superior to the people who conducted themselves differently than they haven't up to this point.

You can be monogamous and not judgmental, and those people aren't the ones that Dan is addressing. I think it's fair to say that he is addressing you, Timothy, and tkc.
What do you mean Mom can't afford the mortgage, Tim Horton( suddenly lots of Tims/Tomothys around.. Well 2), she will be able to with the alimony etc.
And this rough patch, it lasts for what? A month, a yr, two yrs.
If there is no true depth of intimacy in a marriage, if sexual or financial or whatever issues can't be truly thrashed out.. Then the whole thing is a sham. It's just pretend. Let's pretend we are a happy family. Children may not consciously know the details, they sure as hell pick up the emotional tone. So , when they get married.. Gues what? The same pattern may be followed.
All this subterranean energy, all these parts of life blocked and dammed up.
@32...Again...I'm not being specifically judgmental except in situations where a person who wrote a letter has asked to be judged. And then again in the abstract idea of ethical behavior.

And we can posit ethical rules and norms; that's what we're doing here. To be clear, it was Dan who coined the term CPOS. Do you consider that judgmental? Dan used to call anyone who cheated a CPOS, except for an extremely narrow and rare situation where a person was married to an invalid incapable, physically, of sexual relations.

I take no glee in any of this. I find it all sad. That doesn't mean we can posit, strongly, general rules of decent behavior.
I don't use "monogamous" and "puritanical" interchangeably. That's your BS, not mine.
Edit to @34: "doesn't mean we 'can't' posit...
@24 - Here's the problem: a "commitment," must have consequences for breaking it. Otherwise, it's not a commitment; it's just an empty promise. Some commitments are legal (e.g. if you don't deliver I'll sue), some are practical (e.g. I'm committing to not eating more chips by throwing the bag away), and some are social (e.g. if you are a deadbeat dad, the community will think you are a jerk). The commitment to be monogamous, now that there are no legal repercussions for cheating (no one is arrested for adultery, it's not a factor in alimony), is entirely social. So, when someone says "you should keep your monogamous commitments" and "we shouldn't judge or shame those who cheat because everyone's circumstances are different" that person is being self-contradicting. To say that there should be no social stigma for those who cheat because "who are we to judge?", is effectively saying that there should be no monogamous commitments at all.
@33 lava that was so beautiful.

Not joking.

@35 at least you own to having some bs Savage :)
@24 not at all marooner.

Consequences should flow from the one actually injured - the spouse - not from me or anyone else who wasn't damaged by the broken commitment.
Arg. @ 37
@39...then by that standard, neither can we forgive or diminish the responsibility of the act of cheating for the person who cheats. At best, Dan then should only be able to say that one should be honest with their spouse and let the consequences flow from that.
Thanks Dark Horse.
@37. The only area I buy into re people's private stuff, is around the children. It takes two to make them, it takes two to rear them. Of course it really takes a villiage... They in short supply.
Once children are born, the stakes are much much bigger. Does society really look down on deadbeat dads? They are so prevalent.. It's almost the norm. So many women, doing it alone. To me.. That is criminal, for the child, for the woman.
People, the adults.. They work out their sexual stuff. Monogamy, open, poly.. Their adult story with each other.
Given the divorce rate etc etc.. One does wonder if prominising monogamy for life is such a good idea. Maybe the vows should just go yr by yr.
Yep, this yr.. I promise to be monogamous.
@42...of course you mean..."this yr...I promise to be monogamous...unless it's hard. If it's hard, all bets are off."
I think it's better to be honest about a failed marriage and get divorced or, if that is really not possible, be open with your spouse about outside-the-marriage arrangements.

But I cannot forget the emotional hell of the last years of my failing marriage and my divorce. They were the worst years of my life, so far. There was no support or understanding for me - I was the bad person forcing the divorce on my unwilling husband. Friends and family were adamant that I should get counselling with my husband and make the marriage work. But I knew it was over and counselling would only drag out the inevitable. I clung to the certainty that the sooner it was ended, the sooner real healing could begin.

I have known others in similar situations who ultimately caved in to the pressure to stay together, when they should have "toughed it out" and got the divorce. Maybe, if there were more support for people in failed marriages to get divorced, there would be less "cheating". I try not to judge folks who couldn't handle the stress of divorce. Instead I try to support any friend or acquaintance going through that hell and let them know it will be better once it's over.

I think the AM data dump was a rotten thing to do, perpetrated by self-righteous bastards with no feeling for the hardships they will cause. No matter if the site was filled with CPOSs, there were surely plenty of sad folks on there who just couldn't get through a divorce.
@plaidwoman, compassionate
You cross with me Tim Horton, you won't use my name.
Just talking hypotheticals here, right?
Mom covering her tracks, right. What if Mom falls in love with one of these people? What if the sex is so good, she never ever wants to go back to how it has been with Dad in the sack.. What then?
Maybe if Mom just came out and told Dad she wasn't happy with the physical intimacy, that she'd like to open the relationship up.. Because she loves Dad, and wants to keep her family.... But she can't lie to herself anymore. Can't pretend that she is fulfilled sexually.
A big freak out, blah blah blah.. But Dad might come around. Dad might not want to lose the family either. At least, if she told him her truth.. He has a chance of saving something of the family. And over time, Dad might find this open marriage thing is a bit of alright.
Or maybe Mom, really doesn't want Dad to have the same as she has. Just wants a open story for herself. Not sure she wants to share Dad, just wants to share herself.
Dan: if you haven't already, go and get Jon Ronson's So You've been Publicly Shamed . . .
All this energy being put into helping a million "rotten" cheaters to get off scott-free just to make sure a hundred "justified" cheaters don't get punished (an idea basically worthy of Rumpole, to be sure), but no effort to make divorce less ghastly. I've paraphrased Mary Crawford more than once and said that everyone should divorce as soon as it can be done to advantage, but it isn't entirely a joke.
I guess my attitude about any/all of this kind of thing is along the lines of "Good god, people! How can you have the energy to care so much about how someone else conducts his/her marriage!? I mean, sheesh, I barely care that much about my own!"

Seriously, why do people think that other people's marriages (or any other part of their private lives) is either any of their business or deserving of their time and attention?
@49...because some of us have been treated like shit by people we trusted with our lives. And some of us have been on the other side of Ashely Madison. So, this isn't just "other people's" experiences.

And I've long had this hope that sexuality absent puritanism could at least be conducted ethically. It was sort of my last hope of ethics in this world; that we could shed all the bullshit that we all grew up with and put a stake in the ground on at least treating each other well as we attempted to navigate a sexual world without guilt and shame.

But alas...fuck it.
@50: I'm genuinely sorry you were so hurt, but nope; doesn't cut it as a legitimate reason. It might a be a reason for being bitter towards your former spouse, or for having a generalized bitter outlook on fidelity, but it doesn't adequately explain that preoccupation with other people's private dealings and attendant sense of outrage.
@51...I disagree. But I also don't agree with your characterization of my interest or motivation. But that's OK.
Timothy, maybe that's the problem. The trusting other people with our lives.
A baby/ child has no choice than to trust others with their life, for adults though.. Is it really wise?
Given the way marriage ends for so many people, why does everyone thing they will escape that outcome. Divorce. End of the connection. From sexual betrayal or any no of other reasons.
In Australia, every week at least one woman is killed by her partner or former partner.. That's where trusting someone with your life gets some people.
I hope theses data dumps aren't endangering anyone living with abusive psychos. Someone needs to do a PSA and tell those people to contact DV organization and get a safety plan like NOW!
LavaGirl...absent trust, I'd find the work of marriage to be pointless.
Of course, Timothy. Trust is a very important part of any relationship..
That is different to putting your Life in their hands, don't you think?
One's life, should always stay with oneself. And one should be very careful whom we lay our trust in. Watch, over time, if they really are trustworthy.
@56...No, I don't think there's a difference. At least not for me. If I can't trust you to have my back when life gets difficult, I don't want to invest in the relationship.
@50 Here's the thing: what hurts is the rejection - sexual and emotional. It doesn't hurt substantially less if your spouse comes to you and tells you, "I'm dumping you because I'm tired of fucking you and I want to go fuck that other person now". The sneaking and lying are just things you can unequivocally hang on them as "violations" and fixate on safely, because they preserve your self-image as a victim of a clear-cut "wrong". But the majority of the pain is from rejection. And being "honestly" rejected really isn't any less of an ego blow. Being "ethically" dumped isn't significantly less of a dumping.

IMHO the "ethical" thing to do in any circumstance is to do whatever you've gotta do in a way that inflicts the least amount of damage on the people your actions affect. Yes, in many, many circumstances - almost always in the case of shorter term relationships (I am measuring in decades or at least half-decades) that's ripping the band-aid off quickly. It's also probably ripping it off with some from of dishonestly along the lines of "it's not you, it's me". I don't buy for a minute that in addition to rejecting someone you do them any great favors by serving up an additional heaping of ego-smashing by telling them just what it was about them that made you want to reject them. It's called "adding insult to injury".

In the case of these LWs, both have much more complex situations than simply, I'm tired of fucking you so I'm going to go have an affair. In fact, if you want to get into ethics: it seems to me LW1 is perfectly entitled - his SO having preemptively opened up the marriage with her affairs - to go outside his marriage. She'd given him permission. Perfectly ethical.

In the case of LW2 - the one everyone is telling to "just leave" - she's also done the ethical thing and repeatedly attempted to fix this with her husband. You have no idea what his health issues are, but she may in reality be his in-home healtcare provider, and "just leaving" fucks him over much much worse than having sex - sex he says he doesn't want! - wit someone else. That's vastly more ethical - the more selfish thing would be to dump him, leave him without care and go on her merry way so she can say "well, I never cheated". Who does that really serve? Her or him?

You have a very simplistic black-and-white view of morality completely dominated by your own personal injury - which is fundamentally ego-centric and in my view that's ethically lacking. Persisting in that will get in the way of taking responsibility for your own happiness because you're putting all that in the hands of your ex. I've watched a parent do this for thirty years now, allowing that to ruin her own happiness for the rest of her life.
Ms Cute - If you were denied admittance to the Protestant Country Club because you're Jewish and someone told you who put the 8-ball into the bag instead of the cue ball, you might feel inclined to swing by St Mary's from time to time if you suspected your excluder of secretly attending Mass (my apologies to any Episcopal St Mary's). (Granted, this is an adaptation of a very LG point of view - although I was never one for looking closely at particular marriages, I can certainly understand the impulse in someone kept out of a desirable club on the grounds of not following the rules to be considerably peeved by acclaimed members' flouting the same rules.)
So come out, come out wherever you are! The problem rests on a foundation of invisible unhappiness. Happily ever after must die so that we may live.
Mr. Ven, I'm trying, but I'm not getting your point @59.
Okay, I don't play golf, so I don't understand the 8-ball and cue ball reference, because don't they belong to pool or billiards rather than golf? But do they play pool at country clubs (I've never been to one)?
And yes, I do get the excluded-for-not-being-Protestant-but-discovering-that-the-member-who-excluded-me-is-Catholic point, except . . . who's being kept out of the marriage club in your analogy?
And what's an LG point of view (or even just an LG)?
I am still only 3 sips in to the first cup of coffee, so perhaps I'll figure this out, but I would appreciate some help.
@60 - I never cease to be amazed by the people I know who by all outward appearances are in dream marriages and the suddenness with which is it revealed to be a facade. FB has only amplified this tendency. I agree that the fairy-tale must die, but then that means a bunch of people all standing up and saying "gee my life sucks". Not likely.

@59 - You might want to look, and to call out the hypocrisy, but I think you also make the question of divorce far, far too simple and under weight the damage it also inflicts. It's not a magic easy button that solves all the ethical dilemmas and pain.
AFinch, you're on a roll with your posts @58 and 62. Marriages, affairs, divorces--essentially any complex human interactions--are always more nuanced and complicated than we often want to reduce them to. Right and Wrong are rarely so Black and White, solutions are rarely so cut and dried and easily effected.

We search for the quick fix or the sound bite or the big sharp knife to slice right through the Gordian Knot, but I don't think those work as well as people want them to.
Feelings, you know. They're tricky little bastards.
@62 AFinch

Yes. My comment is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you might need to know me to pick up on that. It's factually correct, but never gonna happen. Not in America anyway.
@64 - seems to me the French, and maybe the Italians, have figured this out.

@63 - I just really wonder at how much actual life experience the people who call for simple "get a divorce" have with these situations. I had much more to say about this on the other AM thread.
@18, @49, @58: I think I love you!

This site needs "Like" buttons.
@ 49 - "Seriously, why do people think that other people's marriages (or any other part of their private lives) is either any of their business or deserving of their time and attention?"

Is that an announcement that you'll be retiring from Slog/Savage Love commenting?
@67: Touché.
@57, Timothy. Again, they are not the same thing. Having your back is Not having your life in their hands.
It hurts, when relationships end.
We all know that. If it ends by betrayal, then it hurts that much more.
We grieve, we moan, we hide out..
Time passes. Distance and looking at the story from different angles, starting to see where it went wrong from our side.. Best we can do with the situation. See how we contributed to its demise.
"Every normal human being needs contact, a touch, a caress, even a hug. Abandoned babies wither until they are picked up and cuddled, at which point they begin to thrive. It's a basic part of our evolution. These "liaisons" are not about sex, they are about a connection, a true intimacy. We may have thought all we needed was sex, but is the least of it...the sex is like a cherry on the sundae."

This is lovely. A few years ago I said this same thing (only less eloquently) to a friend who was a staunch opponent of gay marriage and we were debating it and he circled around to "what the bible had taught him" (lovely guy, truly, just raised in the southern baptist church). I told him that when he makes love to his wife, the sex is fun yes, but there is this whole other element of love and connection and feeling happy that occurs (he is devoted to his wife), and that he was seeking to deny that in other people - it was only when I framed this way, and not about civil rights, that I could see I was getting through to him.

If you are reading this, letter writer, I am sorry this has caused you so much unhappiness. I wish you nothing but the best as you move on. If it's any consolation, there are many many people out in the world who know the things you talk about here, which is why we haven't even bothered to get on to the AM list and look, we know life is infinitely complex and people have a huge variety of experiences that are deeply personal. None are better or worse than any of the others. We people are out here, find us.
I'm a little flabbergasted that LW2 went to AM in the first place. I hope she didn't pay for her membership. A woman can go pretty much anywhere on the internet and find men willing to have sex with her, I don't get why she sought out AM when there are plenty of venues that would work just as well. Craigslist seems like an obvious choice. While it has a well-deserved reputation for being slimy, I don't believe for a second that it's any worse or better than AM's user base, especially if she filters for creeps and weirdos before meeting (which seems to be the case). She could've easily found men in her exact situation without paying money and handing personal info to AM.
My heart aches for the people writing here.

And what's wrong with all of you that you can't empathize with the person's choice to stay with the spouse who won't be intimate with them? Would you leave someone after 30 years while they have health problems? And risk being completely ostracized by your family and friends? Probably not. You end up looking like Newt Gingrich serving his wife divorce papers while she's being treated for cancer. And that's not a pretty picture.

Good for her for getting some of her emotional and physical needs met elsewhere.
It seems to me that the exception - terrible sexless marriage with dependent spouse - is swallowing the rule in a lot of posts here. I doubt that most of the people using Ashley Madison were in relationships like LW2 seems to be.

And underneath that seems to be assumption that our relationships our SOs must be exactly what *we* want. Life is not perfect; we don't get everything we want; so, like grown-ups, we make a deal with our SO to have those things we value. Some of us will choose never to marry, merely to have a string of serial relationships. Some of us will choose to remain celibate. Some of us will value security over sexual excitement.

We all make a deal. And like all deals, we don't always get exactly what we want. Now, the other person may renege on the deal - stop having any sex, stop taking care of themselves, etc. So we have to forge a new deal. Maybe that's divorce, a DADT, or an open marriage. But, if we respect the other person in that marriage *at all,* then we owe sufficient honesty to them to allow them to choose the path they want as well.

This argument that cheating is being done so "you can stay sane" in a marriage and "not hurt the other person" is both self-serving and patronizing to the SO. I can see it in some very narrow circumstances, for sure, but most of the time, eh.... and here is thing, unless your SO is mentally deficient, your SO has the right to decide whether the deal you are still willing to offer is one they want to take.

A few people here have mentioned that perhaps the spouse would take a significant financial hit. Um, so what? That spouse gets to make the choice. In my case, if my SO had a one night stand, okay, I'd turn the other cheek. If my SO decided to have a long term affair, nope, out the door, even though my life style would take a substantial substantial substantial hit.

To me its the deceptive robbing of the other person's agency as if the cheater him or herself knows what is the right decision for everyone involved - which of course, makes things very cushy, often, for the cheater. He/she gets to have the spouse, the kids in one place, and a lot of excitement on the side. The truth is, very often the cheater (a) doesn't want hizzer spouse the license the cheater is taking, and (b) also knows that their spouse won't agree to the deal the cheater is offering. Well tough apples, that's life. Your spouse isn't yours to own or control; your spouse is still a free agent (darn those women, filing for divorce 70% of the time, we gotta punish them!); and your spouse can choose the deal she or he wants.

In this second marriage, I've turned down opportunities to cheat, because - boy - do I like me some strange. But I've struck a deal I intend to keep. I would be furious to find out that my SO decided to opt out of a deal for which I make sacrifices (and receive substantial benefits) without a say so. If SO wants to get a bit of strange, fine, but so do I.

When I married this SO, I knew there would be no more male strange. But the benefits (aside from the fact I adore the guy) far outweigh the negatives.

There are miserable marriages. And I am not crucifying cheaters as soulless cruel people. I'm not. We all make mistakes, and there are many ways to betray a relationship, cheating being only one of them. But the only way we move more toward continental sensibilities is by giving our SOs the chance to say, "yes."

BTW, I am pretty sure the only thing the French have figured out is that rich powerful men get to have mistresses. I don't see any license to the wives to have pool boys.
@73. Her marriage was crappy long before 30 years. She made a deal to stay in it. She is more than welcome to dump him. Plenty of people do, and no, they aren't "ostracized" by their community or family.

Maybe I grew up in the big divorce generation (hitting the ol' 40 soon), but tons of people divorced and had parents that divorced. Tons of people divorce now. Most people really do not care. At all.
@74: DarkHorseRising, thank you for that comment. I don't mean that I am cavalier about marriages and I agree that while situations exist that make cheating "okay," they are far more rare than not. I just have a problem with the level of judgment and criticism heaped on total strangers for the way they have chosen to conduct their marriages.

I don't mean that the spouses in these marriages don't have any right to feel hurt, betrayed, angry, critical, etc.
BTW, on my FB feed, apparently, someone has done a batch download data file against google maps of the names and addresses of the people near me who had it. O-M-G.

I mostly am feeling pretty stupid. In these days of big data, these types of batches aren't difficult. I made the classic mistake that because I don't care (and wouldn't bother searching for anyone), oh boy, there are plenty who do.

So I am hearing now, it was one disgrunted employee, who didn't hack anything, but basically did an inside job of culling information.
There is his story and her story..then the truth. Until both sides are heard, excuses are excuses. Frankly, until you have been the spouse in the dark who had no clue, who thought things were ok, then folks just dont know. I hate AM. I hate that people felt like they deserved something because of a, b and c. If you cant leave your spouse, then make a effort. If you are so done..and feel so unloved, be the better person and leave before you make feeble excuses to pursue this. Fyi..alot more is involved then just doing this to your spouse, a lot of folks will be effected. So Im sorry folks felt so unloved, so neglected...but this was a seriously wrong choice to make. It was all of AM users choice, not their neglectful spouses.
@nocute. Its nothing but prurient interest. The only one's affected by the marriage should really worry about the health of that marriage.

I find DS refreshing, in many respects, because he actually *is not* cavalier about commitment.
@74 You put this far more eloquently than I ever could, so I won't add anything. I agree 100%, which is probably why I'm 44 and never have been married, even though the father of my son has asked me over and over again. But I know it would never work, so I remain single. Not saying what I do is better or worse than anyone else, just what works best for me.
@yup. I've known several people who have taken that course. One invited me into a dating relationship. I like him (we are still friends) and it was fun, but he didn't offer me a deal I wanted and I didn't offer him the deal he wanted. So we walked on. Its okay.
Each and every one of these exposed people have different scenarios and its up to them to deal with it how they see fit. I have no interest in that list. I havent looked at.... i havent googled it... its none of my business. The people who irk me the most in this is the supposed "do-gooders" who have discovered friends and coworkers on the list and want to know if they should out them. WTflyingF.
I understand that I've been lumped in with the so-called "smug moralists" on this issue. While I understand that...it feels very different than my personal life experience and views.

I'm not unaware of the difficulty of marriage. Been there, and had tremendous disconnects between us; she preferred women. To our credit and benefit, we chose honesty and openness. That was hard work, one of the hardest things I've ever done. And in the end, when we decided that we weren't working, we stayed in that place of honesty and divorced. No affairs; and we both had more than enough reason to go outside since our sex life was dysfunctional.

I understand that mistakes happen. I'm actually more interested in forgiveness than divorce. I'd be much more likely to want to work through such an incidence than end a meaningful relationship. My experience recounted above was much more brutal than I imagined was capable from my partner at the time; and even then, had she come to me and attempted to work it out, I'd have likely done so.

My problem with AM and the resulting conversation has to do with ethical theory. I'm a huge fan of the book Sex at Dawn, and I recognize the inherent difficulties of monogamy; still, I see it as a choice, and I think humans are capable of making commitments that run counter to our inner drive sometimes. What I long for is honesty and communication; I accept humanity.

Anyway...yes, this is personal to me. But it's also practical and philosophical. There are people who make mistakes. And then there are people who are CPOS as Dan coined.
@Chairman: I haven't looked and don't care. What's it to me if person X wants to cheat on his husband? Along the same lines, I don't read celebrity gossip or watch reality tv shows. And, though it represented a bit more of a temptation, I admit, I didn't look at the hacked and leaked celebrity sex-selfies or nude photos. What possible interest could I have in the marital status and relations of total strangers ( movie stars or other public figures) or acquaintances (co-workers, etc.). I am interested in the private lives of my close friends, insofar as I care about their happiness and we generally share that kind of intimate stuff. But I would never think to sift through all that data to find out if my dearest friend's wife was cheating on her. Instead, if my friend discovered that her wife was having an affair, I would be concerned for my friend's emotional state. I would want to be supportive. In that case, I wouldn't know unless my friend told me herself.

I understand the justification for outing hypocrites who have made life difficult for people they condemned on morality grounds--that would be a very sweet serving of schadenfreude indeed--but even then, the idea of sifting through piles and piles of data . . . I've got better ways to waste my time.

I was aware of the existence of Ashley Madison, but I never knew much about how it operates, and it does seem to be a despicable site. The way to attack it, though, is not to ruin the lives of those people who were on it.
@DarkHorseRising your post above is great. The cheater shouldnt be the one making a decision for everyone. Here's the deal, Im on the other end of this. Im the spouse who found out. Can not describe the pain. I have always looked at others in this process and thought " big deal, divorce-cheating.its the norm, its to be expected.". Now I know. I had a friend ask me if you could chose cancer or this which one. I said cancer immediately. Of course the difference is I will get over this, I know I will. However, in the throws of it, nope. Its awful. So awful. The excuses are just excuses. I always say I take responsibility towards contributing to the unhappiness in at times in the marriage, but the spouse has to take full responsibility of making choices like this. This was not mine.
nocute- i agree with all you said in post 84. And i see no problem outing the people who have made it our business (people like Duggar who was working for a right wing morality cause).

and i guess i see no harm in someone looking at the list if they are the kind of person who can literally do nothing with the information they get... it wont eat at them, they wont out a friend, etc. That fappening thing (the celeb nude pic leak) was kinda like that. Some people looked. Some people looked and then re-posted the pics elsewhere.
@74 Well said.

I've thought about my stance on this for the last few weeks. Ultimately, while I agree with Dan that there's a bit of disproportionate retribution at play (I certainly wouldn't want my own OKCupid info disclosed to the world), and I don't believe the AM data is anyone's business but that between partners, "do whatever it takes to stay sane" just isn't a good enough answer, for all the reasons DarkHorseRising mentioned.

One person doesn't get to decide what's best for the marriage without consulting the other. That's not a partnership. That's not a marriage.

In the times I've been cheated on, it's not the illicit sex that bothered me, it was the lying. The destruction of trust made those relationships irreparable, with people who I would have otherwise loved to keep in my life in some capacity.
In general, my feelings are very much aligned with the thoughts expressed by DarkHorseRising @74.

Timothy - I feel your pain and I can very much relate to your sentiments about your preference to save a relationship colliding with your inability to regain trust, as well as the sadness that comes from feeling it didn't have to go down that way. I experienced that myself, but that pain has lessened somewhat over time as I've come to realize the dynamic at play in our sex life was repeated in other aspects of the marriage and therefore more indicative of a general incompatibility, if that makes sense.

Finch @58 states the rejection is what hurts, not the lying. My response to that is that for *me* it was the lying, but I'm perfectly willing to accept that for some people, including Finch, the sense of rejection would feel worse and they'd rather not know. Maybe it helps to know that different people have difficulty with different aspects of infidelity. This could be important in negotiating terms that work for both people in the marriage.

I'm not one to generally consider porn cheating of any kind, but could we perhaps entertain the idea that LW2's husband cheated on her first by denying her sex (or any kind of physical affection, apparently) FOR YEARS while getting his own sexual needs met with porn?
89 - that is a very interesting point. Perhaps we need to update the definition of cheating:

A. having sex with someone other than your monogamous partner
B. refusing to have sex with your monogamous partner

its not a bad idea....
of course... before anyone rakes me over the coals.... that B definition needs a little work to adjust for loss of libido, health probs... etc.
Ms Cute - I was trying to avoid using a politically incorrect word. What colour is the 8-ball? Yes, saying, "If you knew who *****-balled you..." would have been more clear. This is what I get for trying to be PC.

I'll assume that by now you have realized which group of people who begin with an L and which group of people who begin with a G were unable to marry for centuries. Almost all my life it was quite the common thing for us to collect information about how straight people were ruining (by their standards) the institution of marriage all by themselves while pretending they weren't. Having had marriage equality for two months is hardly enough time to get people out of a frame of mind that seemed born of necessity to them. Give it a generation or two.
Mr Finch - Sometimes one has to advocate for what something can be rather than for what it is (at the moment). I don't think divorce is perfect, and have been saying consistently that improving divorce is a project worthy of far more time, effort and money than it's received (which, considering I am permanently Retired from Romance, shows some generosity on my part).

I'll agree that all the divorces I've seen close up have been ones in which at least one party and usually both were saying within a few months of the decree that they should have done it at least five years earlier than they did. That's more or less what I'd like to see as the default response a few months after the fact. Or, say, if society would regard divorce basically in the way Mr Savage wants society to regard abortion, I'd probably be quite satisfied.
The betrayal and lying is the worst. Now, with that said, had I found out via hacking by angry group Id be livid. Selfish part of me agrees, out them. If AM users are upset well they obviously were doing something their spouse would not be ok. However, the AM users should be telling the spouse privately, not public for everyone to see. Its between partners , its their marrage, their partnership whatever. These hackers didnt do this to out " the wrong". They did this for their own selfish needs without a thought thlo the amazing damage they are doing . I saw a interview with the creaters of AM. The husband said if his wife was ever on their site he would divorce her immediately...way to stand behind your product.
I am LW#2. Firstly I am not looking for absolution or sympathy for what I've done. My parents have been married and faithful for almost 60 years, what I am doing was completely outside my scope of reference except to treat those with my current status - "adulterer" - with contempt. This journey I'm on, for want of a better word, has completely changed my philosophy on life and morality. It is really outside the scope of the AM hack, and to me is much more important.
For the curious, a little more insight and answers to a couple questions posed above...
We have no children.
We are not divorced because my husband has given me a great life, has been a wonderful partner in every respect except the intimacy. He is now reliant on me due to health and physical disabilities. I know now I should have dissolved the marriage when he stopped seeing the shrink and the intimacy disappeared, BUT, like most of us, we grow up with values and determination and commitment. He is a good man. One does not walk out unless the situation is critical, in my world that meant abuse, not neglect. If only I knew, but wisdom is not gifted or bought, it is earned with life lessons and experience. Neglect can also be abuse...
I considered initiating a conversation about an open relationship. But once that is asked, regardless of the answer, the horse is out of the barn so to speak, and if his answer was no then what?
And truthfully after his trite response to me offering to deal with and stand by him whatever he wanted sexually, I just don't see the point except it may have led to him making a rash decision which would leave him alone in every way and without a caregiver. Is it worthy to note at this point that he is 12 years my senior? I am still vital and healthy and have the potential to find another partner with whom I could merrily spend many years. I am still employed and have a wonderful career and he is in forced retirement due to his situation as well as his age. I could easily make things easy for myself and walk away, leaving him to fend for himself. However, whatever shred of integrity some of you may consider I have left will not allow me to dump him, simple as that.
I choose to have my needs met by a FWB who is discrete and whose many year marriage has issues and a level of intimacy which mirrors mine. We are not "hurting" anyone; they don't want us sexually. It's society that whispers and condemns any committed relationship that is not monogamous. I am learning there are many varieties of commitment, the type thrust on us by organized religion is not the final word, and perhaps not the way humans are created.
I believe (and am praying with my fallen Protestant soul) the scandal over the hacked AM list will fade before damage is done to any "regular folk" which could lead to reckless behavior and way worse consequences. There is no doubt that many AM members are also CPOS philandering assholes by even what some of you consider my low standards. But not all of them...
@futurecatlady...thanks. It's been just over a year now and I'm moving past it. And yes, in hindsight, the problems contained in the affair and coverup were indicative of other, much deeper incompatibilities between us.

But I also agree with you and disagree with Finch; this wasn't about rejection. This was the lying, manipulation and gas lighting employed to dupe me. All the while pretending to be something else entirely. And after making it perfectly clear that if she preferred an open relationship, I'd discuss it. No, she wanted it closed, wanted my fidelity, and was betraying me all the while.

I value honesty and am willing to hear difficult things to accommodate honesty. And I make that position well known up front with anyone I date.
@95 LW2...

I'll jump in since I was vocal about what I thought you should have done.

First...I have to say that I think Dan has used you to prop up some ethical theory of his that we shouldn't throw any scorn toward AM users, because, as you've presented, sometimes, the circumstances can be nuanced. But your story is not central to the experience of AM, and it feels disingenuous and political to hold it up as such. I think we all get that circumstances differ. And yet, Dan generally calls cheaters CPOS.

Second...all we have is your side of the story. I've been around long enough to know that people who cheat lie about their motivation. All. The. Time. Nobody wants to be a CPOS (per Dan) and so stories get crafted in such a way as to elicit sympathy and to make the cheating more palatable. While you may be completely justified and not presenting a skewed view of your situation, that, again, is not the norm. Cheaters lie. We have no way of knowing; and therefore, drawing general ethical conclusions is difficult. But, your story adheres closely enough to Dan's exception to the CPOS rule and I'm sure that's why he chose to champion your story.

I can tell you that I personally wouldn't want to be your spouse. I crave knowledge about the contours of my life. I've worked damn hard to break down the social and personal bullshit I was raised with. For better or worse, I'll take my medicine. So while I get that you think you're doing him a favor, I don't have his side of the story.

I resist drawing conclusion generally on the nature of infidelity through your carefully crafted, chosen, and presented story. But even here...I'd rather have ended the marriage a long time ago, long before the critical element of debilitating illness set in. But you had your rewards to stay, and chose that over the difficulty of leaving back when.
@96 Timothy - I appreciate Finch's point in that I think it must be true for some people. I believe there are people who are comfortable with DADT arrangements and avoiding a feeling of rejection could be one of many reasons for that. My point was only that it is certainly not true for everyone. I know this because it was not true for me. Obviously not true for you either.

Ultimately, I think it could be helpful to recognize that some people really wouldn't want to know about a spouse's long-term infidelity. Perhaps that preference is sometimes being projected onto spouses in error when it is actually the cheater's preference. It's hard to know because there is also the possibility that the cheater is simply rationalizing their preferred choices and/or deliberately attempting to keep one side of the marriage monogamous. Much conflict of interest to confuse things.

@95. Thank you for writing in.
I don't see your standards as low..given your husband needs you, I feel you are very kind to look after him. That in essence is what marriage vows are about, to love people thru sickness and health.
That you and your FWB have to lie to achieve some sanity and happiness for yourselves, the consequences of this, you have to live with.
Take care.

Per #95. Growing up with values and commitment, I get that, but where does going outside the marriage fit into those values? There is no nobility in staying in a marriage where one has to lead a secretive , damaging second relation. If its open, both spouses agree to see others , great. If its hidden " secretive relationship". I dont see any value in that. At all.
Timothy, I too like to know the contours of my life.. Nicely put. And I'm sorry your partner was so deceptive and selfish. Sounds like you better off away from someone who thinks that behaviour is ok.
My marriage ended five yrs ago.. He got with a co worker, we were having a break( a repeat performance over 30 yrs). I'm glad to finally have it over, it has been a shit five yrs though.
The involvement of a third person can just change the dynamic a lot, and our children had to go thru some really ugly selfish behaviour from him... As it was all changing. He so engrossed in his new love.
We all have weathered the storm, they have let him go from their lives.. Which is so sad, because we did do the hard yards together rearing them.
Then, I don't know if he and I could have finally made the break, without his new partner coming into the story. And I know I needed to get away from it. We didn't live tog, close by each other, though.
While he didn't technical cheat.. The little scene with her was bubbling along for quite a while. My take on it now, I'm just glad my kids are happy and doing well and lady, thanks. I'm finally free.