Thank you for understand and speaking out against the judgmental glee that has overwhelmed the internet regarding the Ashley Madison hack. It made my heart feel so much better to read your words. My name was on that list and I have been suffering ever since it was leaked.
I signed up five years ago. It was a time when my relationship with my wife was emotionally and sexually deficient. In fact, she had had two extramarital affairs herself during this period of time. Now, when it comes to Ashley Madison, I never actually cheated or even chatted with a real person because, as it turns out, the site is a complete scam.
Anyways, I have been fighting depression, anxiety, self hatred, and suicidal thoughts since the leak. All I read about is how evil, heartless, and morally lacking me and everyone else on the list are. It is really getting to me. Reading and hearing over and over and over and over about how horrible I am is causing me to believe it myself. I can barely sleep, and when I do, my dreams are nightmares where all my friends, family, coworkers, and everyone else gossips, laughs, and hates me because I got doxxed. The mental breakdown caused by the leak keeps getting worse. Now, to clarify, I did tell me wife about it, she understands and really doesn't give a shit, but the hack itself and all the public shaming has destroyed me, and any faith I had in the ability of the human race to evolve past these puritanical (and mostly religious) ideologies of sex and relationships. It's hard to live with yourself when the entire population of the world thinks you're a scumbag.
All and all, I have been an absolute wreck, and it was wonderful to read an article that wasn't telling me how awful of a human being I am. So, Thank you Dan Savage. You are a good human.
My final thoughts/venting: Ashley Madison took advantage of good human beings in times of their lives that were difficult. The hackers seemed to understand that, but they punished the victims to get to the perpetrators. This doxxing was wrong and it will always be wrong, no matter who was on that list. We are the victims. It is as bad as punished drug addicts to get at the cartels. It's skewed logic, and will only cause more damage than good.
I am an Ashley Madison member, have been over a year now and I have found this email address from which I am corresponding with you on the hack list. I read your post of this afternoon with rapt interest as my closest confidants have been concerned for my mental well-being following the information release.
I would like to preface my story with a couple of revelations I've "grown into" in the past 12 months.
Don't EVER judge a situation until you know all the facts. I used to be the first person to condemn when I heard someone was "fooling around" on their spouse. The "intimate-less" marriage that looks like the perfect relationship to outsiders is "regular" society's dirty little secret. At least one of the inhabitants of these marriages has a soul which is dying or dead, as was mine. My story...
I've been married for almost 30 years, the first few years were "okay" sexually as far as frequency, then it dwindled to nothing, culminating in a couple of months of him seeing a psychiatrist after 8-9 years. I never did find out what his issues were but after our first "homework" (masturbating beside each other in bed) he declared the situation fixed and we were back to nothing. There were a a couple feeble occurrences over the next few years, but 15 years ago it completely stopped. I moved out of our bedroom and now we don't even get a hotel room unless it's got two beds. There is nothing more lonely than laying beside your partner, inches away, and they don't reach for you, not even to hold your hand. We haven't even shared a platonic kiss for years. I confronted him 3 years ago by email which included:
What turns you on? Is there anything I can do? Do you want an open marriage—would a different woman do it for you? Or a man? I won't say no to ANYTHING without consideration. And if there is nothing for us together, I am willing to accept your perspective and feelings—I may not understand it, but I will accept it—just allow me a little time to digest whatever it may be.
I gave him three days to respond and soon as I walked in from work that night he said he got my email and that sex "just wasn't his thing." This from a guy who I knew was looking at 20-40 hours a week of porn. (I inadvertently found I could monitor our home network and so still checked for several weeks after our confrontation and his habits hadn't changed.) Last summer, after confiding in one of my closest and most respected friends she said she didn't know why I don't have a "friend" and she would "never consider it adultery under my circumstances."
I haven't been "religious" per se for many years, but having been raised in a typical mid-west household, church attendance, as well as standard Christian values played a regular part in my childhood. I did some intense soul searching and a month later I was on AM. It took awhile to find a suitable partner, i.e. not only someone in the same circumstances as I, but one with whom I felt a connection and a spark. The same circumstances included staying in the "real life" relationship, doing no harm and being completely discrete. I won't leave my husband, extenuating circumstances including the last several years him having health issues. He has given me a good life in every other way and I will NOT leave him by MY choice. I will remain with him, and share what he desires of me and caretake him, for as long as he chooses. My personal opinion is he would be foolish to dissolve our marriage, all of his needs and wants are being fulfilled by me. I am not taking anything from him, or denying him anything he asks, but if he found out I would abide by his wishes, whatever they might be.
My FWB and I have been together for almost a year. He has his own reasons for staying with his wife. We are not "players," we are in what many would call pathetic relationships which sap of us joy, leaving us neglected and rejected. It is the most humiliating and demeaning of situations in which to be...that the person with whom one is to be the closest, the one with whom we should be sharing are most stripped bare feelings and desires doesn't even acknowledge us. And there are LOTS of people like that. Believe me, almost ALL the men I corresponded with and met had a similar story. Granted, I was looking for that "flavor" so to speak in their profiles on the site so filtered out a lot of undesirables before even beginning a dialogue with them. But I only met a few who didn't provide a version of my story.
I shake my head at information released about the email addresses, i.e. the public, or work-related addresses, seriously, people in responsible professional positions registered on this site with their "regular" email address? I am not cocky about staying anonymous, but created this email intentionally for my AM membership. I am not famous, or rich, or that interesting that anyone gives a proverbial shit about my personal life so am hoping this entire situation will be quickly replaced with something more explosive as is the way of our world with its instantaneously reported "news" and those of us who are doing no harm and finding some joy in our humanness will be left alone.
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.
Please do with this as you wish, only kindly keep it as anonymous as possible, only know there are many of us who are not philandering players but desperately lonely yet devoted everyday people.