Savage Love

Ashley's Ashes

Comments

1
Apparently some businesses, and even the military are going through the list looking for their personnel on it. Why? Who cares? Information wasn't required to be verified so it would be difficult to prove if a user really signed up anyway. Can we just go on with our lives?

Understandable to make a fuss over this if you're relationship personally is affected, or if you live in a country where your head is at rick of being separated from your neck. But in the good ole US of A where celebrities and politicians can get caught with drugs and rent boys only to see their ratings go up?! Can we get back to some real news please?
2
Sorry, Venn, it looks like this week's pretty slim in the HA department :(
4
The extent of a person's risk and danger in having their AM enrollment exposed corresponds in direct proportion to their degree of foolhardiness in enrolling and creating a profile on their server, creating a vulnerability that would never ever expire (unlike their membership). An awful lot of people were apparently very, very foolhardy. Some of them may also have been very very lonely, very very horny, or some mixture thereof, to run those risks for the sake of what AM offered. Sometimes what we crave most desperately is exactly what we should avoid, because desperation can make us stupid.
5
Here's a good site that explains the AM hack in some detail...
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/ashley-madi…
6
Love the acronym for the final letter writer, an attorney who may benefit from this debacle:

WIN!
7
If anything next week seems particularly apposite, I may just venture a post along the line of what I would have said were it still August.

What Mr Savage declines to mention is the strong sense of contempt successful cheaters often develop towards their cheated partners. And I can only imagine a few outliers truly supporting his idea that someone being deliberately denied of agency is done a favour by a partner who unilaterally decides to continue the marriage under fraudulent terms. But I am quite serious in my refrain that I'd quite like to see how cheating would go if it were run entirely under Savage principles.
8
Most of the media are taking a nothing-more-than-the-cheaters-deserve position. But it seems to me that the more important issue is that this is Christian fundamentalist cyber-terrorism. Next they might break into regular dating sites and expose closeted homosexuals or people with legal but socially damaging sexual interests, or break into medical records and publish the names of women who've had abortions. What damage might they do if they got into GPS or purchase records kept by corporations and the government?

The real criminals here are the self-righteous, moralist hackers. Their motives are the same as those of the murderers of abortion providers and homosexuals. As backward religion looses ground in the free and open cultural debate, we can expect them to become progressively more violent and criminal.
9
Allen Gilliam, generally I think you ascribe Christianity as a defining force in a fucked-up-about-sex letter writer's (or more usually, the object of the lw's compaint), but in this case, unfortunately, I think you've hit the beast square on the nose.
It's very frightening.
10
@5 DonnyKlicious: Hail Bill! AAAACK!
Wow---so that's Ashley Madison. Yikes.
@9 nocutename (re: @8 Allen Gilliam's comment): Agreed.

11
@7: As I see it, Dan is not advocating cheating when he wrote:

"It would be wonderful if everyone who felt compelled to cheat could either negotiate an open relationship or end the one they're in now," - This is Dan's stated, basic philosophy. He doesn't advocate cheating, as, under this ideal, there would be no cheating involved.

He then, as a caveat to the realities of the complications of some relationships, (which he previously described thusly, "Some married people have grounds to cheat. Men and women trapped in sexless or loveless marriages, men and women who have been abandoned sexually and/or emotionally by spouses they aren't able to leave—either because their spouses are economically dependent on them (or vice versa) or because they may have children who are dependent on both partners."), continues, "but there are cases where cheating is the least worst option for all involved." - Again Dan is not advocating cheating, per se, but is recognizing that relationships can be VERY complicated, and people can have valid reasons for "cheating".
12
@1 DoD has said they are not going to use this data so servicemen are safe (although why you would use your work address on AM is a mystery).

"Loyalty isn't something we can demonstrate only with our genitals." Well said Dan.
13
World Traveler wrote: (although why you would use your work address on AM is a mystery).

Perhaps you misunderstand the severity of the privacy breach. The AM users' real, legal names and addresses have been revealed from their billing information. This will harm many thousands of people.

Read the link provided by DonnyKlicious at #5.
14
@1

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/punitivea…
The act of adultery is illegal by the standards of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Active duty personnel are subject to UCMJ before any state and federal laws apply. The lawyer who authored the last letter is correct about adultery's legality only as respects state and federal laws.
15
It takes 5 minutes to create a 3rd party private email account and about 30 minutes to obtain a prepaid debit/credit cards

Shame on the folks that used personally identifying home and job emails.
17
I'm with Dan where it comes to the idea that some infidelity can protect other concerns within a marriage (companionship, kids, property, security) for some exceptional cases.
I also don't give a personal shit about who shags whom on this planet, or how they do it as long as *consent*.

For the most part sexual fidelity is encoded into the marriage contract and it is a feature that a sizeable majority of people entering the covenant expect. I don't have a problem with folks deciding to have open relationships, if they are mutually agreed, but I do have a problem with swathes of people unilaterally deciding to make this contractual redefinition.

There is nothing to gain from judging other's individual behaviour but I think it is reasonable to challenge the apparent hypocrisy of all those people (men mainly) from enjoying privileges (standard marriage contract, social respectability, financial benefits) when they don't honour the deal that they made.

Perhaps this is a good step on the way to correcting the definition of marriage to reflect mutual respect and responsibility as more important than sexual behaviour. After all, you can't promise to love someone for ever but you can promise to be kind to them.
18
M? Brooks - I don't much differ with Mr Savage's mechanism, just the algorithm. He appears to underestimate the number of people suited to monogamous commitments (so that almost nobody would be making monogamous commitments and that therefore they'd be far easier to keep), and he (vastly?) overrates the negative aspect of divorce - very Catholic of him, really. In someone who often genuinely seems not to buy into duosupremacism, this feels a bit off, as "staying married and staying sane" is a main feeder of duosupremacy.

I should, though, like to see the cheating system run along his suggested lines - say, a site to which people were only admitted with Mr Savage's personal approval. Should such a person be found out, acting through Savage Affairs would mark a member as a Cheater With Cause, and serve as a mitigating factor. Then the partners of the vast majority of cheaters who were rejected by Savage Affairs could receive the full and unadulterated sympathy to which many of them would be entitled.
19
The hacking sucks but I'm calling bullshit on the oodles of honest open-relationship folks on AM. With the multitude of hookup sites, why would folks in an open relationship flock to the one that encourages dishonest affairs? I'm all for open relationships that are consensual. In my experience both dating online and looking for no-strings fun there are a shit ton of married guys on there and very very few are there with permission.
20
It's depressing how many news organizations are using the hacked data in stories. How is it OK to use illegally released data for an article? Where is basic editorial integrity? The only story they should be writing are cases where someone affected by the hack goes public and wants their story told, end of story.
21
I suspect AM accounts who used their real emails were the ones most likely to be looky-loos, just there out of curiosity. Why bother to create a new email when you are planning to delete the account after a few minutes anyway? And then comes the nasty surprise that AM charged to delete, and that even deleted accounts showed up in the data dump.
23
Caveat coniunx.

Genius! I think the selection of letters is quite excellent.

I also think WIN is fantasizing if he thinks the NSA or Justice Department will care one whit about prosecuting anyone but the hackers - just as DHS and Congress never seriously contemplate punishing employers of undocumented workers - they will not go after AM the "legitimate business". Which brings me to:

@8 - I think you are completely incorrect. These are not Puritanical fundamentalist cyber-terrorists. They are actually attacking the blackmailers: AM being the blackmailer. AM was pretty clearly a scam, followed with extortion (oh, sure, we'll give you all the prints and negatives, suuuure...). The only way to beat a blackmailer is to call their bluff and let the information out. The motive here isn't to reveal who is a cheater or a closet-case, and since OKCupid, for example, is a "free" service, and even fee-based services like Match don't promise anonymity, it's hard to imagine why they'd be targeted. Certainly Adam4Adam or Grindr might be interesting, but then anyone seeking to blackmail can simply sign up and attempt to identify users for exploitation.

AM was targeted explicitly because they sold an anonymity guarantee and egregiously iced that cake with a removal promise.
24
@5 As someone who works in this field, I want to suggest gently that the wired article doesn't actually say anything even remotely informative. Indeed, if it were the case that - as the article suggests - this were an inside job and they knew who to target, the dump - almost a month later - wouldn't likely have happened. It's possible there was some kind of deadman switch but I think we'd have heard already about how they got the guy.

Also: don't buy the spin from the guy who says "we know it wasn't a software compromise". That person is being paid to build a case (evidence) for the defense of ALM against accusations they failed to do due-diligence for any future civil or criminal actions. And he's parsing carefully: perhaps it was not an unpatched security hole in software, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a flawed security architecture. The attackers may not have picked the time-safe lock on the front door, but figured out the latch on the back door wasn't secure. ALM may have had very poor security architecture (the assertion they make in their statement). Is it breaking and entering if the door is left ajar? Sure, it's still theft but...AM as a duty to remember to lock all the doors.
25
OK. I am noticing a distinct lack of criticism and high dudgeon as regards DATA. Will nobody defend the "honor of marriage"????
27
I get so utterly and completely fucking sick of people who use children as the reason to stay in a miserable relationship. Children aren't stupid, they can tell something is up. My dad cheated for pretty much the entire time he was married to my mom. The Reason the marraige was sexless and loveless is Because he was cheating, he was spending all his energy with that other woman and not on us. My mother was shamed and humiliated and eventually suffered mental breakdown. But because he was a prominent religious figure in the community she couldn't shame him by asking for a divorce (also why I have nothing but contempt for religion). And while I was very happy to finally be able to marry my partner of 24 years recently, I Do NOT ascribe that marriage is some scared precious thing that must be preserved no matter how miserable the participants. My mother finally, finally, once all us kids were grown, divorced his selfish ass, he propmtly turned around and married his fuck-buddy and is now using his retirement to tote tramperella around Europe and bragging about it on facebook, while my mother is still having to work and living in a tiny apartment. She and all my sibs and myself are all on anti-depressants (and I also need anti-psychotic drugs) so don't EVEN fucking trot out that "for the chirrun' line, it is bullshit that only protects the cheater who gets to have his perfect family and his cunt on the side too.
28
@18 - Venn, I think you have nailed the reason people talk over each other on this issue. The "cheating is always wrong" camp seems flippant with the attitude that there is nothing a divorce can't solve. If you believe divorce isn't that big of a deal, then of course there is no excuse for cheating. Kids are resilient, they want to see their parents happy, parents who don't show love and affection are a bad example of marriage, sick patients can somehow access caregivers, etc.

To argue that divorce has severe consequences on those left behind seems to fall on deaf ears. Reminds me of the abortion debate. There is no point in debating the nuance of abortion with those who believe a fetus is life on one hand or a useless clump of cells on the other. "If you don't want an abortion, don't have sex" sounds familiar to "if you can't keep a monogamous commitment, don't make one."

29
And the abortion issue is a really good illustration for the smug moralists who believe the breach of privacy on Ashley Madison is a small price to pay for the greater good of shaming adulterers. I assumed the pro-life crowd will follow the same tactic with the naming of those who have had abortions, in an attempt to shame those from considering one in the future. And that day has come.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/h…

Privacy is like free speech. It is for everyone, or for no one.
30
Am I the only one who take's issue with HIM's logic that, "While some may find cheating morally reprehensible, it is not so morally reprehensible in this country that there are laws prohibiting it (anymore)—it's not even a misdemeanor." What is legal and what is moral are two very different things and I would never aspire to live in a country that mandates morality through laws. Of course the hackers would love to do just that so curious that HIM would subscribe to that logic..
31
@5, Like AFinch said, the Wired article doesn't say much. Security from the outside world is one thing. Security from 'members' is another attack vector. Most systems people will be familiar with Bobby Tables (https://xkcd.com/327/). Once a malicious individual has an account, there are ways to gain access to some systems by uploading specially crafted corrupt image files or other content.

Last year, I started receiving some weird e-mail adverts from AM. Weird in that the graphics and 'click here to join' URLs appeared to come from sites totally unrelated to AM. So, just phishing for credit card numbers and personal info. Odd thing: The domain from which the graphics came and the URL went were registered to a Baptist Church organization in Texas. So I figured they were fishing for sinners to whom they would subject to their preaching. But then, maybe not. Wish I would have kept those scam emails.
32
@30: Did you mean WIN?

Yes. There are those that believe if we didn't have laws against beastiality, everyone would be fucking horses. Projecting their own desires and lack of self control, I suppose.

But WIN is a data security attorney. So his motivation is quite clear. As the damages pile up, there's money to be made going after AM as well as TIT (The Impact Team) if they can be identified. I don't think he is reveling in the suffering of AM users so much as seeing a windfall in legal settlements. If AM suffers, its not a morality thing. Its a smackdown for having buggerd up security.
33
Honestly, I am appalled that someone hacked Ashley Madison. A private site, with private cheaters - it should not have been hacked.

On the other hand, I'm thrilled that people like Dugger and Rader got caught on it...what hypocrites! So I admit I am enjoying that part of it. But I would have preferred no one went after the site at all. I've heard conflicting reasons for the attack - that they are appalled at the "immorality" or they are appalled that AM charged to purge the data completely - but it's nothing any self-respecting hacker should have done.

I do wonder why anyone would use their work address on such a site; are people really that clueless? I guess so.
34
Hunter78 wrote: What fucking difference does the motivation of the hackers make? We have today massive hacking by governments, Islamists, leftists, corporations, and esp criminals. Why Christian fundamentalists would be esp interested in GPS or purchase records is beyond me.

Everybody is well aware that there are people who want to steal money through hacking, and the authorities take this kind of hacking seriously. Backward moralists using hacking to enforce their unfounded beliefs about what the magical sky god wants is something new and so there's value in pointing it out.

Also, many people have the attitude that if you're not doing anything wrong, then you don't have to worry about privacy. Well, unless you're willing to live your life within the narrow confines of fundamentalist morality, you now have something to worry about.
35
I looked up my abusive ex-boyfriend. He had turned down my proposal for an open relationship because he wanted me to be monogamous while, as I found out later, he was about to married to someone else. It was cathartic to see that, many years after we broke up, he was on AM. I hadn't realized it, but I had this irrational fear that I was just one last woman to fuck with and use before he settled down and behaved. Of course, that was not the case. I'm not going to do anything with this information, and I doubt anyone else will, either. Maybe his wife will find it, maybe not. Don't care, not my problem. And I very much doubt anyone else knows about that e-mail address. But, y'know, it felt really good to see. After everything he did to my life (including hacking my e-mail), it felt really good. Not like justice, but maybe like 5% of justice.
36
AFinch, releasing the real names of people on AM does destroy the company, but why target this company when there are so many other far more dishonest and damaging companies? Sex-negative, religious morality is obviously the underlying motivation.
37
"Men and women trapped in sexless or loveless marriages..."

Dear people of the Western world! You are not trapped! The cage is unlocked! Divorce is no longer a crippling stigma and it will actually be better for you kids not to see you trapped in a loveless marriage! You may have to live in less than the style you are accustomed to but...
Aw forget it. I give up.
38
And why is it not okay to encourage gay people to suffer in the closet anymore while it's okay to encourage these people to stay trapped in loveless marriages? Both may suffer stigma and even economic hardship for seeking their own happiness.
There may be a few limited situations where your caring for a terminally ill spouse or you've decided together to just be companionate but these letters I'm reading...You only have only short life people do you really want to...
Aw there I go again. Just forget it.
40
interesting article nocute. Amazingly... the AM website is still up. I just looked at it's homepage... and it appears one can sign up... WTF. I fully expected a "down for maintenance" placeholder... I hope AM has broken some actual laws. Seems fraud would at least be on the table. Hate to see the people who run that sham get off with a slap on the wrist.
41
Not impressed by REGRETS - surely when you decide to have an affair, you are aware that there may be consequences if other people find out about it? You may fantasize that your affair was happening in an invisible, air-tight bubble suspended in space, but the reality is that people know you, people know your wife, and people know your mistress. Do you think there are no consequences for your WIFE if/when her friends, family etc. find out you cheated on her??

For Mr. Venn's HA purposes, HONEST could be a woman, and I don't think it would make a difference in the reading or outcome if HONEST were a man or woman.
42
Mr Horton - As I said in another thread, my ideal would be for everyone who undergoes the process to find the divorced state as congenial as did Anne of Cleves. While such an ideal may be unattainable, we can get a good deal nearer.

It is certainly a complicated issue, which Mr Savage exemplifies perhaps as well as anyone. The only people who come to mind who are as anti-divorce as he is are the MRAs, and it's a curious combination that someone so anti-divorce would have a catch phrase about dumping.
43
@37 and 38 Chi_type - I challenge your assertion that divorce is more admirable that cheating. (This applies only where dependent kids are involved. If no kids and no chronically ill spouse, I agree with you that divorce should be the preferred route).

The negative effects of divorce on children are established and well documented. Division of parental time and attention, financial strain of dividing assets while paying for legal services and potentially therapy for the affected parties. Stress of single parent households and perhaps additional daycare requirements now that both spouses have to work full time. Relocation if the family house has to be sold, perhaps new school districts and friends. More horrific outcomes include potential sexual abuse at the hands of men dating mom. Inconsistent parenting strategies, shuttling of kids between mom and dad's days. Divided holidays. Etc.

If mom and dad get along fine but it is the sex and intimacy that has eroded, in a perfect world, there would be compromise - meeting spouse's reasonable sexual needs, opening the relationship, etc. Unfortunately, we humans are complicated creatures and accomodations that are obvious on paper or in advice columns can be emotionally impossible.

In deciding who should bear the financial and emotional fallout of parents who can't accommodate each other's reasonable sexual needs, why do the children - the innocent 3rd party - have to be the ones to bear the burden? In other words, it seems not only reasonable but noble for a spouse to prioritize the happiness and well being of the children in getting their reasonable sexual needs met discreetly outside the relationship so as not to disrupt their children's stability.

Of course there are relationships that are so toxic that the marriage must end. In that case, the lesser evil imposed on the children is the relief in dissolving the toxic environment.

I challenge the notion that society should laud a parent who breaks up an otherwise stable family home to pursue their own happiness at the expense of their children's financial and emotional well being. The lesser evil would involve finding a way to continue the relationship and get your needs met elsewhere.

A cheater is prioritizing their children's happiness above their own. A person seeking divorce over sexual incompatibility is doing the opposite.

44
TimHorton - "A cheater is prioritizing their children's happiness above their own. A person seeking divorce over sexual incompatibility is doing the opposite."

i can fully appreciate where this opinion comes from... and i think it certainly has validity... but it would need a lot of qualifiers to pass the sniff test for me.

"A cheater is [possibly] prioritizing their children's happiness above their own [if they have given their spouse a reasonable opportunity to meet their needs and are not simply seeking sexual gratification from any and all places]. A person seeking divorce over sexual incompatibility is doing the opposite [if sex is really the only issue in the divorce]."

I guess i just don't want you to forget that there are men (and women) in the world that have healthy sex lives with their spouses AND still cheat for various reasons. Typically people who can't or won't actually be monogamous....but have chosen "monogamy" for appearances.

I think you and I see commitment and intimacy and marriage in very similar ways (based on our past conversations).... so dont take this as me nitpicking. YOU would seem to fit your last quote without qualifiers... but most people don't.
46
Tim @43, I think you underestimate the ability of children to sense tension in the household, and also the pain which will be felt by betrayed spouse and betrayed children (yes, they will feel betrayed) if the affair comes out.

If you think your spouse is unstable and will abuse the children, and if you don't trust the courts to recognize that -- then, yes, having the affair (and risking your children's wrath when they see you as a cheater) to protect them from that abuse is noble-minded.

But under normal circumstances, it's not noble-minded to cheat (and expose your wife to STIs and the pain of betrayal) if the stakes are just the financial strain of dividing the family's resources. Talk to a lawyer instead.
47
@43: What a load of bullshit.
48
And to follow up my post @46, if this were just an obvious matter of prioritizing the children's material well-being and keeping them in their current school district with their current friends (those are all worthy goals) -- then work together with your spouse. If your spouse isn't abusive, then presumably you two share the same priorities with regard to the children.

So have an honest conversation about how to get to an open marriage. It's not easy, but I've been there, and it is possible to be loving and respectful and still have the damn conversation.
49
@Tim Horton: Erica covered most of what I would've said. My sister and I spent a lot of time wishing our parents would just divorce already so that's my perspective on it.There was no abuse or anything just bad stuff being modeled that I think has effected my own relationships. I can't say how the alternate path would have been.
My perspective is also as an atheist who believes all our and our children's lives are a brief second in the span of the cosmos and then we're all dead forever and ever. The thought of spending those seconds "trapped in a loveless marriage" is horrifying to me.
Of course each relationship is different and the one you describe doesn't sound so bad (though I would advocate for honestly opening the marriage) but between these letters and the Letters of the Day...those are not the relationships we are hearing about.
50
This is a great fictional account of something like this, reminiscent of Vonnegut:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jcmethven/life-a…
52
http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/is-it…

interesting article about the plusses and minuses of ignorance.
53
@43, Tim.. If the parent really is noble and putting children's needs first and can't/ wont open the truth door in the marriage.. Then they accept the status quo and wait tll the children are old enough so splitting the family doesn't cause so much dislocation.
Ever seeing cheating as noble, very very long stretch.
54
Here's what I don't get about the Ashley Madison hack:

The sites I've seen have databases where you enter an email address, and if it matches it shows more details about that account. I know from the Josh Duggar incident that the data includes the name and billing address of the credit card. BUT as far as I know, the name on the credit card isn't searchable, only the email address.

If you're going to cheat, WHY would you use your regular email address, the one your spouse and friends know? Why wouldn't you create a special account for free on gmail, Yahoo, or any of the other free email providers? Hell, I'm single and not cheating on anyone, and I still have a special email address for Craigslist, Fetlife, etc. that my friends don't know about. Makes it easier to compartmentalize my life.

I have tons of email addresses: one for work, one for my personal use, one for hookups, one I mostly use for sites I sign up for that I think will end up being spammy, a professional one for job hunting and similar stuff, a few for hobby side businesses that don't make any money, etc. I realize that's still a little extreme, but still, if you're going to cheat, don't you have worries that your spouse might see your email on your phone or whatever?
55
Personally, if I was a young man, in a marriage that left me feeling lonely in my sexual needs.. Yet covered pretty much all the other bases, so the story was pretty finely tuned. And my spouse had put up so many little barriers to really hearing how I felt, and you know.. Being a man and all..I'd give myself a pass to visit a sex worker. Once a month.
A good sex worker takes good care of their sexual health, no risk of relationship beginning( maybe best not to just go with one, to avoid attachment).
I'd see this as sexual therapy. And later, when I found out.. If I found out.. I'd be fine to explain why I took that way of coping with a situation that was really fucking my head over.
56
While I do oppose this hacking in large measure because of the slippery slope argument (hackers with other political agendas might try to hack the records of gay dating sites, abortion providers, etc.), I do think that Ashley Madison should be sued. Not because their security measures in general weren't good enough, but because they sold a special service to completely purge the data of former users who paid a special "purge" fee, which they ended up not doing. They took money for a service they did not provide. That's not just incompetence. It's fraud.
57
@54, the name/address on the credit card isn't as easily searchable, but if someone has the ability to go look at the full data dump -- yes, it's searchable. Plenty of people who got a special hookup email are still going to get caught in this.
58
Tim Horton, children are a lot more perceptive than you give them credit for. I've said on another thread that I found out in my 30s that my father had been serially unfaithful (in some bizarre "platonic affairs" according to him) and all the unhappiness at home that, especially in my teens, I thought I was the cause of suddenly made a lot more sense. I wish they had divorced a long time ago. There's nothing noble about staying together for the sake of the children, because they are a lot smarter than you think! My mother wasn't stupid either, in fact she was a lot smarter than my Dad, so there was no way she wasn't going to find out.
59
My father had liaisons .. Not affairs as such. My mother found out about them, after he died. Or at least one of them, thru letters from when my father had been travelling.
Theirs was a difficult marriage in some ways and worked great in others. My mother sexually, erotically, Not home.
I loved that I could live with my dad until his death, I was just on 16... so I see his , I assume, Occassion lapses as being ok. They set up a good life for us as a family.
After my father's death, my mother married again. She also saw him out.
60
@54 - people are morons.
61
I think it's interesting that Dan assumes only "puritanical busybodies" would bother looking other people up in AM. If I were to look people up (I haven't, but only because I don't want to go typing people's email addresses into some rando web form that might spam them), it's just because I'm curious and nosy about who's out having fun and maybe in a monogamish relationship. I have friends who I simply wouldn't be surprised to find in there, and hey, maybe I even want to hang out with them more because of it, if you know what I mean.

62
Just a note to EricaP and Mr. Horton regarding the latter's predicament: successfully opening the marriage isn't necessarily the way to go either. I believe I have similar attitudes and assumptions about marriage as Mr. Horton does, and am in a similar situation. Mrs. Bloomer and I opened our marriage for awhile with as much honesty, respect and integrity as we could muster a few years back, and it was still a near-destructive roller coaster ride, so be wary. And the takeaway? Actually there were many, some I didn't want to learn about myself, some surprising or surprisingly positive, most worth the effort. But amongst other things, we learned that Mrs. Bloomer is far more irrationally possessive than she was willing to admit before we opened up. She was able to successfully ignore this (to her) unpleasant side of her personality when we were both dutifully monogamous and she was not put to the test, but when I finally did have a short-lived affair she tolerated it by the letter of the agreement but punished me with an icy and wounded indifference for months afterward. I don't believe she is proud of this behavior.

So the upshot for our marriage is that she now feels she has paid her dues, and can be that much more adamant and ruthless in demanding fidelity from me as we conform to her low sexual needs. Things are as they were before, with zero wiggle room now.

I understand open marriage does work for some, YMMV etc. Just my personal experience on open marriage failing to achieve what I hoped it would accomplish.
63
PS this is not an indictment of Mrs. B, I fucked up too in various ways.
64
As far as I have heard, the hackers have remained anonymous. I think it is pretty weak sauce to hide while exposing others in a blunt an self-righteous way.

So who's going to hack these hackers who seem so in favor of Consequences?
65
Also too: I'm not super absorbed in my situation, just using it to prove a point. I think people who say, "Don't ever cheat! Divorce! Or open the marriage!" aren't really thinking through the difficulties of those options. As far as open marriage, a) far, far more easily advised than broached, let alone done, speaking as one who had to convince a partner who felt betrayed by the mere suggestion, and b) it's not a magic bullet anyway.
66
Bloomer, no magic bullets, just ways to play with the situation.
So what is missing in these marriages. Is it low occurrences of sexual union and/ or a lack of erotic surprise and excitement.
If a marriage is 80% going well, intellectual connection,
Kids, money, shared work and chores and its just this area of sex, then I can't see what the problem is in making this area a little dangerous. Role play, dirty nights when the kids are sent off..
67
Finally, One lw I wholeheartedly can get behind. ... the lawyer. I too work in data privacy. He/she is absolutely right.
68
Btw people are doing geo batch files now. This shows the address of members across Google maps. In my town it's being circulated on Facebook for my zip code. Now that big data is doing it's thing, it's very easy.
69
@66: Sometimes one of the two people in the marriage doesn't want to make "this area a little dangerous." Some people don't want "Role play, dirty nights when the kids are sent off.." Some people don't have anyone to send their kids off to or with. Sometimes there's a sexual disconnect, a mis-match, with everything else in the marriage good. With intertwined families, children, finances, social roles. It's very easy to say "spice things up" but sometimes one half of a couple doesn't want more spice.
70
Adding my two cents to the To Divorce or Not thread: Break ups are sad, and can be awkwardly painful to all involved. However, I believe there are situations in which divorce is the only solution. I offer one example of getting a divorce to end an abusive marriage. I am living, breathing, walking, talking, blogging post-50 proof of moving on from an ugly, nightmarish experience years later for the better.
71
LavaGirl, you're assuming a low libido can be "fixed". You can't fix something that isn't there. It's a low libido. It just is.

But like you, I had my doubts about this and they fuelled years of experimentation, ideas, creativity and etc. I assumed I was the problem and if only I could get better or change or whatever.... But when I saw Mrs. B's tepid interest in extra-marital sex as well (once the novelty had worn off, which it did pretty quickly, and even though she had a charming hunk of a lover) I had to take her word for it. So then you're going to ask, Why marry such a person? to which I reply, I was in love, inexperienced, very young, and her libido (and interest in sex) was a lot different back then. No, I don't know why it changed and neither does she. Maybe I killed it stone dead, and not even her charming hunky lover could revive it, I don't know. Or maybe shit just happens. If you find out, let me know.
72
....or, what nocute said.
73
Big ol' former Cheating Piece of Shit here.
I was never happier than during the four years I was having an affair with a man that I consider to have been the love of my life--or one of them. No, we weren't open and thus we deprived our spouses of their right to make informed decisions as to whether they wanted to stay married to our shitty, shitty selves.

Neither of us claimed not to be getting any sex or affection from our spouses. Neither of us were caregivers to seriously ill spouses. Neither of us fought routinely with our spouses, and I would imagine that none of our respective children noticed any problem between their parents or would have been relieved at a divorce. By all barometers we were both happily--or happily enough--married. We neither of us had a reason that Dan would be able to use to exonerate our cheating. We were no poster children for justified adultery. We were selfish asshole pigs. We wanted more than our marriages to people we loved were giving us. We didn't want to go the rest of our lives without a passion that our otherwise wonderful spouses were going to share with us.

Neither of our spouses found out. No one was humiliated; no one realized s/he was lied to. Not during our affair, nor after it ended.

His marriage endured after our affair ended, his wife none the wiser. Our breakup was the catalyst for my ending my marriage, because I couldn't stay married where there was no sexual passion and I vowed never to have another affair--because even though i am apparently quite good at it, I dislike cheating and lying and sneaking. I was likewise never found out by my now ex-husband.

My divorce, sought so I could selfishly pursue my ideal of a relationship that included sexual compatibilty, has cost all of us in that once-intact family a lot. It has cost me any semblance of financial security. I live not quite paycheck to paycheck now, (actually paycheck to paycheck would be a step up) and at 52, I have no savings, no retirement fund, nothing. I will have to work until I die, probably dropping dead in the classroom where I teach. My ex, although he does better than that, is far, far worse off financially than he would have been had we stayed married. Ask my kids if they're glad their parents divorced. The answer will be a resounding "no." Even though we've done everything we can to keep them from paying for our problems, including driving items left at the other parent's house back and forth all the time. We are lucky in that we are still very good friends and great, cooperative co-parents. And yet.

I just found out a few weeks ago that he dropped dead, quite suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 62. As far as his widow, children, and friends know, he was always a faithful husband and happily married. Indeed, he was happily married. He loved his wife. He also loved me.

All I can do now is to replay moments of our happiness. No one in his family suffered because of his infidelity. My family suffered because I decided I couldn't live a dishonest life any longer.
I'd never heard Ashley Madison's slogan before the other week, but it's not too bad: life is short, and we don't get a second one; I think we should do what we can to wring some happiness out of it.

If you don't want to have an affair, then don't have one. If you're perfectly happy in your marriage, that's great. If you find it easy to brutally disrupt the lives of people who get in the way of your quest for sexual fulfillment, than you can and should divorce if you're unhappy with that aspect of your marriage. But no one knows one fucking thing about what anyone else feels, or lives with and the self-righteous moralizing or the cavalier way people blithely tell others to get divorced is offensive.
74
@69. Good no..
some of These guys have good jobs, I'm assuming they have responsible positions..
They Move things.
Yet, with their wives nothing can be moved?
Hence, the partner who wants some danger, wants something a little more adventurous in their sexual life, needs to speak up. Loud , clear and often.
At least try this path first.. If no movement, then..
75
Sorry to hear that nocute.
76
I'm sorry nocute :(
77
People throw open their problems, nocute.. To get feedback. So, that's what they get.
They are big people, they can use their minds and think.
It's just other people's point of view.. How they think they'd play it, if it was them. Lessons learnt from
their childhoods, their own marriages.
Just like you are sharing, from your marriage and affair.
I am sorry for your loss.
78
@18 I agree. Yes divorce can suck for kids, but so can a lot of other things. Having a parent who's abusive, having a parent who's chronically ill, living in poverty, being bullied, having health issues themselves.

This belief that kids should exist in some other dimension where nothing bad ever happens is not only unrealistic but unhelpful. Maybe we should spend more time working on real problems, like poverty and abuse and less time banging on parents who choose to end their relationships.
79
Thinking about a glass of wine I promised nocute a long time ago. Really wish I could deliver on that right about now. I think you could use it, and I'd sure love to supply it. Here's to you, nocute.
80
Oh Jesus Fucking Christ. Setting aside the immense tons of judgement I am piling on AM users, you chose to do this. You chose to seek supposedly private means to lie to someone. I don't give a flying fuck if you were outed. Be honest with your partner, then be good to go for whatever. Quit crying because you were called out for being a lying fuck.

Your loveless marriage? YOUR PROBLEM. Be a grownup, deal with it.

Your sexless marriage? YOUR PROBLEM. Be a grownup, deal with it.

Your cancer-ridden partner unable to meet whatever you've determined your needs to be? YOUR PROBLEM. Be a grownup, deal with it.

FUCK. OFF. ALL. AM. USERS. Your boring-ass story feels unique, but you're just a selfish asshole. Try being a god-damn adult.
81
Thanks @80. That's helpful.
82
Ms Cute - I am truly sorry you aren't Anne of Cleves.

If it makes you feel any better, my father could well have started out just like you. His first affair apparently went off swimmingly; his second, a bit less so; you can imagine the progression. You didn't like what one affair did to you; more than one might seriously have changed you for the worse. I'll suggest that it's quite plausible that, by your fourth or fifth affair, you'd have been taking one or both Miss Cutes to weekend cheerleading camps (I respect you enough not to suggest pageants - LMB - or that you'd have dropped hints to them not to tell Daddy that you left them at the hotel in the evening) or soccer workshops.

One thing I did pick up on at the time was my father's growing contempt for my mother. That was complicated, of course, because it was mixed with legitimate responses to her drinking problem and tendency to hit, but I do think a lot of it came from his string of affairs. Have you read or at least listened to What Was She Thinking? yet? One of the things they cut from the novel when they made the film was Sheba's contempt for Richard (which, of course, suits Barbara's self-serving agenda only too well, so that it fits the novel quite well whereas it would have been out of place in the film, determined as it is to paint Sheba as victimized all round - possibly even by Connolly, though in the director's commentary it doesn't come across as entirely committed to that aspect).

I suspect it might even have been in some respect behind my taking to Dame Agatha at about that age. It's a very common Christie pattern that a first murder is committed under great duress after considerable agonizing, a second rather less so, and so on, to the point that eventually it becomes a near-automatic response to a perceived threat. This also combines with the way the killer's perception of the balance between being clever and being lucky shifts unduly in favour of cleverness as successes mount. I'm not saying that adulterers incline to murder, just speculating that the similar patterns of progressing attitudes might have been a draw.

In your case, I hope you'll take as well-meant a suggestion that perhaps you divorced in time to preserve your good opinion of the former Msr Cute, that by the time of your fourth or fifth affair that good opinion would have started to erode, and had you divorced after you'd been caught the two of you might not have been able to co-parent nearly so effectively as you have been able to do.

Perhaps we are both inclined to look back at events large and small with an eye to all we did wrong. I hope you'll take it well if I suggest that the Ms Cute who'd continued her career of affairs would have turned out to be vastly less agreeable - possibly a right-wing authoritarian whose daughters couldn't stand her.

As for the answer, yours is certainly a voice that should be prominent in the quest to fix divorce, which certainly ought not to lead to financial ruin. (I expect to drop dead in the middle of running one of my bridge games, probably in the next few years; we're on the same page there.) I could probably (speaking as a person with an entirely monogamous history and probably nature as well) live with a societal presumption of universal non-monogamy (thus eliminating one need for divorce) - as long as it didn't include a presumption of universal bisexuality, which would be too far for me. Sadly, I am out of time, but wish you great wealth (on Elinor's terms, at least; Marianne's might be a bit of a stretch), even if it turns out to be acquired by rinsing. Maybe one of your well-off friends about to pop off will have a moment of clarity and leave you a few hundred thousand.
83
@80 sounds like someone is super butt-hurt. Get over yourself kid. This kind of event is far more complicated than "cheaters get what they deserve", and if you think it isn't then you are stupidly naive, which would make sense given the over simplicity of which you view this whole issue. Real tired of self-righteous fucktards who are probably no better than the people they criticize.
84
What a discussion.

LateBloomer, can you talk about how you fucked up such that you felt obliged to agree to close the marriage again? Did you try counseling at that stage?

Nocutename, thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm so sorry for your recent loss.
85
@EricaP, no up-fucking more than you'd expect from someone a little inexperienced and a little clueless. Nothing catastrophic. That's not the issue. It just became clear that open marriage had little to offer Mrs. B, and a lot to count against it. She could not get on top of her jealousy and was finally frank about it, both to herself and me. Yes, we've been to counselling. No, it hasn't helped. But that's not the point. The point is that open marriage doesn't necessarily open a low-libido-partner's eyes to the wonderful possibilities of a rich sex life. They just might not like it.
86
@LateBloomer -- but if you opened the marriage because you were the one with unfulfilled needs, why does her not loving the new situation mean that you closed the marriage? I didn't like it at all for six months. And I'd say for the first five years, I would have closed the marriage if I could -- that is, it was bringing me more negative than positive feelings.

My marriage is D/s, so that wasn't an option. But even in an vanilla marriage, doesn't the guy's preferences carry some weight? Had she threatened to divorce you?
87
@86 edit: don't the guy's preferences
88
Mr. Ven: Thank you for that perspective: it's one I've considered myself many times. I do think that often marriages prove the old saw "familiarity breeds contempt," and contempt is one of the sure-firest marriage killers there are. I feel no contempt at all for the former Mr. Cute these days, but I was beginning to near the end of our marriage. I recently told him that I think our divorce was one of the best things that could have happened to him, as he had become someone with no interests or pursuits (not why I was dissatisfied, however) outside the family. He has since cultivated a set of friends of his own, reestablished a languishing interest in music, and gone on a sort of spiritual quest of the kind I could never have imagined him going on in days gone by. He is vastly more interesting. I told him I was proud of him. We're lucky in that we have retained some kind of strong bond and our relationship is something new and strange to try to define or explain. Oh Brave New World that has such relationships in 't.
I have to confess that I still hadn't gotten around to getting hold of What Was She Thinking (I'd forgotten), but reading your comment made me click over to Amazon and order a copy pronto. It will be here in mid-late September and I look forward to reading it then. If you want to "meet" off of Savageland and have a book discussion via private email, that would be cool, as I don't want to bore the rest of the gang.

Speaking of the rest of the gang, thank you to all who expressed condolences. I appreciate it. It's very weird to grieve someone who wasn't properly "mine" to grieve and whom I haven't seen in 8 years. The last time we spoke was more than a year ago, at which time we both told each other that the other had been a great love of our lives. I'm glad we did that; I'm glad I have that. I'm also glad he didn't leave his wife for me--now. I so wanted that to happen way back when. But he knew his kids would never forgive him for hurting their mom (especially his daughter), and given that it turned out he'd only live for less than a decade . . . I'd hate to think he might have lived literally the rest of his life without the love and affection of his children, who were so dear to him. I'm grateful that his widow wasn't hurt by the knowledge of our affair, that (hopefully) she never finds anything out about him that tarnishes the good opinion she had of him.

We didn't meet on Ashley Madison, but we met through another, equally sleazy site. I was just trying to give an example of a much more nuanced affair story. Neither of us fit the bill of the justified cheater; but neither spouse was directly destroyed by the cheating. One marriage stayed intact, and one marriage ended in divorce. The divorce wasn't as terrible as some people think divorce must necessarily be, but it sure hasn't been easy on any of the members of that family.
89
@73 - NoCute - thank you for sharing your story. Sorry for your loss. Relatedly, I think you have a career as an advice columnist.

Yours is the story that is far more common in affairs. It is brave of you to tell, even anonymously. To me, it represents exactly what Dan and others (and I) believe about an affair having the power to save a marriage and minimize harm to others.

To those who say that kids in a marriage pick up on the animosity and resentment between parents, you are right, although it depends on the degree of resentment in relationship to the maturity of the adults in the marriage to shield that emotion from their children. But if the resentment is solely related to the loneliness and emotional turmoil of the partner who is not getting their needs met in the relationship, then external fulfillment can alleviate the resentment and allow the family to go back to a place of health. As was apparently the case with NoCute's affair partner. He was able to focus on the good of the marriage - the love he had his wife, with his family, their social status, their finances, their family intact.

To the truthers (and yes I use that term provocatively) - those who believe truth is the highest value - what benefit does her affair partner's wife get from "the truth." Mental pain- check. Reduced lifestyle - check. Grieving children - check. Instead, in spite of NoCute's involvement - correction - because of NoCute's involvment - this family was allowed to remain united, intact, and emotionally and financially better off than if the "truth" was exposed either before or after the affair. From a utilitarian standpoint, the affair led to an overall increase in happiness.

Obvious caveat - I would never advocate that divorce is not sometimes a least best option. Others have noted - abuse, contempt, a hostile home environment. Of course.

Those here who live in the Church of the Truth are welcome to occupy the pews. As NoCute said - you don't want to have an affair - you want to live your life in complete transparency and expose your loved ones to potential hurtful truths - go for it. Zealots of the Abrahamic faiths believe that gays are going to hell - but you are a heartless ass to tell the grieving mother of a deceased gay man that he is going to hell. Similarly, while you may believe that hard truths are a tenant of your existence, until you know what the inner workings of a family and relationship are, your opinions as to what is best under a particular set of circumstances are at best misinformed and at worst intentionally destructive. Such were the motives of the hackers.
90
@Tim, in the case of nocutename's partner, no STIs were transmitted, no nosy neighbor noticed them and gossiped to their spouses, no misaddressed message tripped them up. That was luck.

If you tell yourself that you are protecting your spouse & children by having an affair, you should recognize how much you are counting on good luck.
91
Nocute - I am very sorry for your loss. I have a close friend who went through something very similar and have knowledge of the accompanying heartbreak

"It's very weird to grieve someone who wasn't properly "mine" to grieve and whom I haven't seen in 8 years." The beauty of life and consciousness is that we get to love and grieve whomever we please. During my divorce (which I initiated while still very much in love with my ex), i had long talks with my therapist that centered on the idea that we can love whomever we choose...and that whether or not they love us back or are even aware of our love...does not need to diminish the fulfilment we can get from simply loving. At the time, i wanted to tell him to fuck off...because i was in pain.... but time has given me a healthier perspective... and a part of me will always love my ex.

Grieving is so difficult in the best of circumstances. It must be very hard for you to grieve a secret. I hope you have some people in your life who knew him through you.... people you grieve with....
92
@timHorton - The Church of the Truth should really be called the Church of Alternate Lies.
93
LateBloomer - it sounds like you are cautioning "careful what you wish for" to the open marriage idea.... but not for one the most obvious reasons (that a spouse will fall for someone and leave)... but rather... that the marriage could end up closed again and in worse shape (sex-wise) than before. You have always seemed like such a good natured guy... I hope she isn't giving you the cold shoulder indefinitely. I think you are completely right about the libido notion.... a low libido person isn't necessarily going to find sexual fulfilment as such a draw. I think sometimes people fill-in "low libido" with "hasn't orgasmed" and then we high libido fools think they must be going crazy inside... when in fact, that part of their psyche is just dormant
94
Following up my post @90, I'll say that Mr. P and I did catch a lot of lucky breaks in opening our marriage. Luck helps everywhere.
95
the luck factor is a very good point Erica. The one time in my life that i cheated (in my early 20s)... it was undone by a mutual friend at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Cheating ate at me to an absurd degree. The woman i was dating was very noncommittal and always doing things to reinforce how little she was willing to commit. She was cheating too....though my side was not a reaction to hers. We should've just gone our separate ways. No marriage, nor kids, nor shared apartment. Would have all been super easy. I was so eaten up by it internally that when i finally did move on from her, i also moved on from the other girl....even though she and i had been an amazing fit for each other from day one. If i had it to do over again... i would've ended my first relationship soon after discovering the other person. I know many likely have similar experiences from their early days of dating and growing up.... but i am my own harshest critic. When we get older...and our lives become TRULY intertwined with another human being, the lines get so much blurrier. I try not to judge other people's choices when it comes to their relationships (i might judge their delivery...or their patterns... but i dont believe in absolutes when it comes to interpersonal relationships). I am not really a fan of the CPOS acronym either. That is only for the other person in that specific relationship to use....if that is how they feel.
96
By the way, there's another discussion on the exact same topic over at Dan's regular Slog (An Email Exchange With One of the Few Women on Ashley Madison). People have some very interesting, insightful things to say. It's too bad the two threads can't merge.
97
... and yet another on, I think it's called Letters from AM Users...

It's taken me some time to get caught up on everyone's letters and comments, but again I want to say thank you to those courageous enough to share their stories, AM-related or otherwise, and show me that there is indeed some compassion for fellow humans left in the world among all the finger pointing and righteous indignation regarding the lives and marriages and relationships of people they do not know. I told my wife I was tempted/dying to write in the other day, but was too busy, and at this point it seems like piling on anyway. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, our 26-year marriage has not always been perfect, but we still love each other dearly and enjoy our life-partnership despite a giant decline in the sexual arena.

NoCute, your story is touching and heartbreaking, and exemplifies exactly what I'm saying to all the 'Why don't you just get a divorce??' people. Thank you for sharing. Tim Horton & Chairman, again, THANK YOU for your level-headed understanding of the human condition and your renewal of my faith in love & compassion in what has been a very depressing week.

Relationships are complicated. Monogamy is difficult; perhaps moreso for some than others. Love is truly a many-splendored thing, and in my opinion, we all need more of it. I consider myself polyamorous and non-monogamous, I am open and honest with all my partners, life is short, and I only get one chance, and I'm damn well going to see how much love I can spread around while I'm here.

Ew. That sounded gross. Sorry.
98
Nocute,

I (heart) you. I think you've been tremendously honest. I am sure it was very complicated and emotional when you learned the other man passed away.
101
JohnnyRhythm & DarkHorseRising, would you mind copying and pasting your excellent comments into this thread? I think they're very worth reading.
102
With all grammatical errors intact ;)

I am one of those advocating transparency. It is not a consequence of lazy thinking, but hard earned experience of watching my parents, my own marriage, and those of several around me blow apart with the "coup de grace" of adultery. I use that term with intent. These were failed relationships beyond "mere sex." Divorce was in the cards with all of its negative consequences - the loss of retirements, the loss of money, shuttling kids, selling the house. This is what happens when you have to undue a life built with someone else.

In my case, I own it, the blow up of marriage wasn't that I was CPOS, but that I married badly, very badly. And I d@mn well knew it at the time.

So if that is the background, what does cheating do? Cheaters say, "well it allows me to stay in this bad marriage and prevent the nuclear option." Really? Based on my experience (not a study at all), that's how they feel until they are actually caught. Once caught, most of them regret the path. Either they regret losing the marriage, or they regret not just filing for divorce without the added nuclear explosion of the cheating. Certainly, not all affairs are discovered. But if they are.... phew..... Because, get this, it *really* *really* *really* hurts the other person. And hurt people with the tools of the legal system at their disposal get really, really, really mean, and will cut off their own nose if they can take yours with them.

So we turn to this, "I'm not getting (enough, great, sufficient) sex at home, but everything else is awesome. These are my thoughts on that: first, if your SO isn't meeting you even close to half way on this - i.e, your husband isn't sending you flowers or doing a little wooing; your wife won't get in your pants occasionally - despite your extensive efforts to start the process, I'd bet that the rest of your marriage isn't really awesome. And if someone is refusing to even *care* about your needs, I do consider that its own betrayal. Is the answer to look on AM for an affair partner? Well, I return to my paragraph above. Where are you heading anyway?

And if you do have a responsive so, but they just can't meet everything you want to do in bed? Okay, this is where I start to lose some sympathy and want to say, "grow the f--- up." Yeah, yeah, we should have a right to some "happiness," but life is a compromise in *everything,* including for your genitalia and sexual proclivities. The man over which I blew up my first marriage - wow, he was AMAZING in bed, smart and charming. I kept dating him after my divorce. But, when I started to look at him for more than a nice roll in the bed, I realized, guess what, he isn't so awesome and was actually bad for me. Because, one of the little negatives of life is that we don't get to build our perfect SO. (ergo Dan's round them up to the 1). I moved on, and ultimately remarried. The man I married? Satisfying but not like the first guy. He's willing, always willing, and cares very much about me in bed. But he offers me oh so much and so much more than sex.

I know people right now are writing me off, perhaps, as a female with a lower sex drive. Heheh, not so. And I like strange. I get tempted. I sometimes want more than what I get in bed. I was a bona fide pervert for quite a while, and that stuff, it doesn't magically go away.

But I've made a deal. I don't want to work, but I need to work to pay the bills. I want that companion, so I've made a deal with that companion.

Again, as I've written before, I can understand the desire to cheat, really. I can understand the slip. I slipped right into a full blown affair. I understand that there really are marriages where people are trapped.

But, as I have written before, I really feel that the exceptions are swallowing the rule, and when loosey goosey language such as (no offense to you Johnny) "deserving of love, compassion,, and fulfillment" becomes a very easy out to do whatever one wants without consideration of the consequences of that decision.

As I mentioned before, I went through a six month plus period after the birth of my second child where my sex drive took a nose dive. I didn't even want to be touched because my personal space, my bodily integrity, had been so overwhelmed and violated. It all came back for sure, but had my husband decided that he deserved a "little fulfillment," because I was in such a position, we would have been over.

I'd like to point out, this is my outlook on these matters. And ultimately, I am glad I wasn't successful at carrying out my affair. I was able to find a new marriage and a much better deal. I was lucky as well, I didn't have kids when it all went down, that freed me too.

Every time I get tempted, and it still happens ten years in, I look at the life I have *and* the kids I have, and run again the cost benefit analysis I made when I married a man I knew would not accept an open marriage, and I keep the deal.

That's me, and it isn't lazy thought process. I walk it.

And as to judging... "don't judge, don't judge...." I can have compassion, and still disagree with people's reasoning. It was "judging" my parents marriage and my own previous marriage, that leads me to the conclusion I am now.

I prefer *not* to be one of those people who refuses to learn from other people's mistakes.
103
Ok, at @96's nudging, this is an edited version of my screed from the other thread.

I think the arguments about transparency have real legitimacy because they get to the fundamental problem with "cheating" (vs. ethical extracurricular sex): avoiding the hard work of a partnership. I think it's probably a fair assertion that in a majority of cases, cheaters are simply taking what is the most convenient option for themselves - not only preserving their social and financial status - but getting to have their spouse and then some extra. Even if there is a problem with the spouse, the 'pressure relief valve' allows the problem to drag along unaddressed.

The problem with cheating is that the issue is rarely about the physical sex itself - it's often about broken emotional intimacy and alienation, something that a fake-partner (an affair partner, who you don't live with day in and day out) provides a faux-substitute for. Even in the case that you don't have broken intimacy with your primary partner, you're likely to develop emotional bonds with an AP, and there's a good chance they might overwhelm your bonds with your "old hat" partner: this is the font of poly-drama. So, in a perfect world, I do have to agree with the majority saying "honesty is the best policy", in most cases. Certainly if we could all just sit down and calmly process our feelings and rationally arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution, ti would just work right on out, every time, even if the answer is "go in peace" and breaking up. Somehow that's rare enough that there is an entire relationship counselling industry. I guess that's why we hear so so so much about all the easy-peasy hall pass and open-relationship convos people have all the time.

Which brings us to reality and complicated situations and that pesky nuance. I just think most of the folks exuding a moral certitude are just as lazy about this as the cheaters in "taking the easy way out", if not engaging in outright psychological splitting, and that a lot of that kind of talk about the moral absolutism of "truth and transparency no matter what" is used as a way to maintain leverage over a partner or avoid personal introspection. It leaves the would-be cheater with this dilemma: if you want this thing I refuse (or am unable) to give you, you're going to have to be willing to blow up your entire life (and maybe mine - nothing better than holding myself hostage) to get it. The "honesty and transparency" crowd use that as a bludgeon pretending that it's an "easy button" that simply needs to be pushed. The playing field is very very heavily tilted in favor of faithful shitty partners, and the financial and social opprobrium fall on the dumpers. You're free to check out emotionally, sexually and effort-wise, so long as you don't cheat, and when you get dumped for it finally, you get to be the "victim" of a "selfish person". That's horseshit.

Nobody wants to hear this, but many many many of the cheated upon - the disrespected, abandoned and rejected - absolutely deserve it. They stonewall sexually or emotionally, or otherwise tell their partner "stuff it" or "divorce if you don't like it" and are surprised when it creates an incentive to cheat. Sexuality is nearly the only thing about modern marriage in which this imbalance in favor of the prudish, low drive, sex-negative partner is still tolerated, but in general there's the prejudice that "for better or worse" is somehow a figurative suicide pact requiring us to stick with a shitty partner. Men cheat on women who stop having sex with them and women cheat on men who emotionally neglect them. You stop working at meeting your partners needs, and you both open yourself up for an in-kind disregard and disrespect, and you bear some responsibility for what happened.

In almost every real world broken relationship there are two people in an unhealthy dyanmic - it takes two to tango. It is almost never the case that only one partner is a selfish, scurriilus amoral sociopath, and the other pure innocence (which, by the way, is the kind of thinking splitting leads to).

@Venn - harking back to your comment about Anne of Cleves: were were all Henry Tudor, divorce wouldn't be such a devastating burden for both partners. I often marvel at the "just divorce crowd" - I wonder how old they are and how much they share in terms of children and resources. I guess it is kind of no big deal if there's no custody at issue and no assets to divide...I'd be much more glib then too.

@EP - concur 1000% about the role of good luck in our lives, not just sex lives and affairs.
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This is from the other thread... some of it refers to other comments from that thread, but I'm not going through & editing it... haha.

Thank you, Dan, for running this article... Thank you, KV, for talking to him, and for taking part in the comments at the risk of being attacked, and thank you, LavaGirl and other compassionate souls for seeing the complexity of this situation and not just hitting the 'if you're not happy, get a divorce!' button!

I am a proud and satisfied former AM user, and so is my wife. I haven't been on lately because I have begun to identify as polyamorous/non-monogamous and switched to OKC because there seem to be more like-minded people there. My wife and I opened our marriage about 10 years ago and we have both met many good, real people on AM who are suffering for a number of reasons and cannot or will not divorce their spouses. We have had enriching relationships where we truly believe we have helped them (and they have helped us) be happier in our lives.

I am SO SICK of reading these articles asserting the false notion that AM users are 99% men 'talking to each other' and that most or all of the female profiles are fake! This is just not true--I have met many female friends and had months- or years-long email relationships with them and I have had very enjoyable intimate relationships with several. They are real women, believe me. And then are *good* women, married to *good* men, not evil cheating philanderers who deserve scorn and holier-than-thou judgment from the public at large.

Most of the women I have talked to love their husbands dearly but are simply not getting enough intimacy/sex to suit them, for a wide variety of reasons. My wife has had similar explanations from her partners. They still love their spouses, they have children and households and jobs and lives that would all be turned upside down if they divorced simply because their sex drive is a little higher than their spouses are comfortable with, or they want to try things to which their spouses refuse. A few have had problematic or abusive relationships, and a few have subsequently divorced... but most are just sexually unfulfilled in an otherwise happy and productive marriage. Their spouses may be disabled, too busy, possibly cheating on them as well, or most of the time, simply uninterested in sex with them anymore. But that doesn't mean they don't still love and respect each other and want to continue their life partnership.

This lack of fulfillment causes depression, anxiety, and resentment in an otherwise happy marriage. We feel these people deserve the fulfillment they are lacking, without being pressured to upend their lives and that of their families and children. And I have learned never to judge anyone for 'cheating.' Monogamy is difficult, and as the book Sex at Dawn point out, humans are not naturally monogamous creatures. I feel that our society, especially in this country, puts far too much emphasis on sex... the prevailing attitude is, a little extramarital sexual dalliance, if discovered automatically means divorce is indicated. Divorce has become so common that people see it as preferable to figuring out how to compromise and work out your problems, so you can make your marriage work with the one you chose to spend your life with.

Love, reason, compassion... that is the standpoint from which I and my wife are operating. And yes, I admit that our partners' spouses are being 'cheated on'... but we feel it is between the two of them (the married couple) to deal with these issues. If a woman's husband's way of dealing with his low sex drive is to stop ever having sex with his wife, I don't feel that much remorse helping her get some fulfillment and satisfaction while still being able to stay with him and maintain her more important partnership.

I have met some of my best friends ever on AM. I am still deeply enriched by their friendships. And now they are all living under this panic that they will be discovered, and the widespread attitude that they deserve whatever they get because they are bad people. But we are all human beings, deserving of love, compassion, and fulfillment in life. Life is indeed short. A little flirtation or sex outside of marriage should not be a death sentence for that marriage.
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Tim Horton, you're a doll, but just to be absolutely clear: My lover (ugh, I hate that word, but I don't know what else to call the Other Man)'s cheating with me probably didn't save his marriage, as he was absolutely never, ever going to leave his wife. Had he been discovered, she would undoubtedly have left him, so it was risky of him even though as EricaP points out, we were lucky (we were exceptionally careful, too. We thought of things I can't believe we thought of to keep things on the DL. I had no idea I was capable of such cageyness). From what I know about her and their marriage and relationship dynamic, I am positive that telling her he wanted an open marriage would not have gone over well. He never told me that his wife was a shrew or didn't understand him or that they had stopped having sex. In fact, I knew he loved his wife and they had an adequate sex life especially for having been married so long, but she was very, very conventional in her thinking, very limited and judgmental. She was one of my level 2s in the schema I came up with a short time ago. All extra-marital sex was BAD, period. End of discussion. And they had a dynamic in which she decided how they would be and what they would do and he didn't argue or disagree or even try to reason with her, but just went along and then broke the rules if he wanted to behind her back. This applied to more than sex. It's not may way and I didn't understand it, but it was his way.

But he had been a repeat cheater, cheating on his wife since before they were married, reasoning that what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. He may well have been on AH after we broke up, but I'm not checking. He claimed that he wanted to become a better person, which is why we broke up, and I know for sure that for at least 3 years or so after our affair ended, he stayed faithful to his wife (I didn't explicitly ask him about it later than that). But such old, entrenched habits die hard, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he had other extra-marital sex after we ended. He said he'd never fallen in love with anyone he'd had an affair with before, and given the intensity and duration of our connection, I believe him--though some will call me a naive chump for having done so. So although he didn't want to end his marriage, for a variety of reasons, guilt among them, the cheating really threatened it.

As for me, well, perhaps initially my affair allowed me to "stay married and stay sane," because I had other reasons for cheating, but I can tell you that in the end it was unequivocally what led to my decision to divorce, even though we were not discovered. I went into it thinking that my marriage was perfect except for this one thing. I did not want to end my marriage. But the thing was that over time, I kept so much of myself secret from my husband. I couldn't tell him about the sex I was having, obviously, nor where I'd been or what I'd been doing those times when we were meeting. But there was so much more I couldn't tell him. My lover would tell me a funny story and I'd want to repeat it and I'd either have to invent a person to attribute it to, attribute it to someone my husband knew about but didn't know so he wouldn't bring it up to them later, or simply not repeat it. My lover and I would have an interesting discussion, and I couldn't bring up the follow-up thoughts with my husband. I couldn't tell him about non-sexual things I'd done or seen when I was with my lover. I began keeping more and more of my life and my thoughts away from my husband and that hiding my inner self so profoundly and about so many things changed the nature of our relationship and our marriage. It felt like a crack between us kept widening until it was a chasm that finally seemed just un-bridge-able. And then there was the sex. I couldn't adequately explain my new interests (how I got them; how I knew I liked them), so I started resenting even more than before the sex I was having with my husband. The times I tried to incorporate them or introduce them, I was firmly rebuffed, and I felt like I couldn't explain how much these supposedly foreign (to me) acts meant to me if I hadn't (supposedly) tried them. So by the time of its conclusion, the affair ultimately made me much more miserable in my marriage and left me feeling far more alienated from my husband than I had been at its onset, when I admit it seemed to fill in the one gap of sexual compatibility. I would never have divorced my husband, if not for my affair, even though I didn't get caught.

Also, in case anyone thinks that the only way my divorce affected me was in terms of economics, I have to say that it's not just the loss of financial security that makes divorce suck. We had been married 22 years by the time we ended it. His extended family was my extended family and my extended family, his. I think I am fonder of his family than he is of mine, but still. Fortunately again, I have been able to maintain the status of member of the family with my ex-inlaws (do I call them outlaws now?). It probably helps that by the time of our divorce, both of my husband's parents were dead. It is terribly difficult, both logistically and emotionally, as well as financially, to untangle a life so completely intertwined with another. Even when it's amicable, even when you're the one who wants it, divorce is painful. Especially if you two don't fight, no one has an anger management problem or a drinking problem or a gambling problem or is (known to be) a cheater. There's no anger to propel you through and past the pain. It's just sadness and a feeling of failure and a horrible fear that you've ruined your children's lives, possibly forever and in profound ways.

Just my billion cents.
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Here is what I like to think about:

Just what is your s.o. accepting to stay with you?
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OMG, this checking back & forth between threads is starting to make my head swim... you're right, nocute, it's too bad it can't be some kind of open forum where the comment threads can be joined... get to work on that, The Stranger webmaster...

Again I want to say how nice it is to read such thoughtful, eloquent posts, much moreso than mine, about the intricacies of these relationships. I respect everyone's opinions, but it was getting really depressing all week seeing all the articles (Slate has about 10 of them, including an AM-themed Prudie column), most of which are filled with inaccurate information and followed by hundreds of venomous comments shouting how AM users are all getting their just desserts. One of them is titled, 'AM is just a bunch of dudes talking to each other.'

I read an article several years ago about AM (when I was using it regularly) written by a very attractive woman who, for journalistic/exposé purposes, went on the site and created a profile, just to write about her experiences. She met and talked to several men, all with different reasons for being there, and baited them into thinking she was interested in meeting, only then to delete her profile and stop all communication with them, cold turkey, without any explanation. She wrote with a bemused tone about how pathetic they were (even sharing some personal details about them) and how some of them kept emailing her for a month or more afterwards, asking what happened, what they had said or done wrong, and even speculating as to whether their email account was not working properly. Hilarious. She continued to ignore their messages until they gave up... and then she wrote about her whole experience.

I thought this was absolutely despicable, but her feeling seemed to be that these cheating low-lifes got what they deserved, even though her descriptions of them made it clear they were all just average, lonely men who were looking for some more intimacy than their wives were willing to give. And of course the article was followed by a ton of comments cheering her on. I don't understand whom she was helping with that experiment. But I think the net result was that she made about a half a dozen depressed men much more depressed. I hope none of them committed suicide... she didn't follow up on that. Good journalism! ;)
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Honestly Tim, are you serious? You can't hide the energy from children. The words, yes, not the emotional tone of their family. Until they become independent, they are dependent on their parents, so they are very aware of where their parents are, emotionally. Maybe they are doing this all unconsciously, but they are doing it. As I see it.
Much as I love Dan, he's a gay man, he has no idea what it's like, in a straight marriage.
And you Tim, how are you going to feel.. As you start your life of lies. You think you will be able to be in your family, with that little secret not eating away at you? Keeping you preoccupied, not really there.
And the other person, she just sit quietly, waiting for your call. She know all the rules?
Women are not keen to just sit though, they start to feel and want.