Ladies and Gentlemen! Your attention please! New findings have been found by finders to save you from your pitiful, unsuccessful marriage!
But before you can qualify for the information, answer these few questions: Is your marriage on the rocks? Do you no longer talk to your spouse and feel less than zero intimate connection to them whatsoever? Would you rather lie, cheat and live in denial than face that challenging niggle called honesty and ‘real life’?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then boy, do we have the solution for you!
Have an affair!
Yes, instead of going through the dreary process of ‘making it work’ or ‘getting divorced so that you are both free to enjoy your lives’, world-renowned affair experts Ashley Madison would like to impress on you that all your spare time, money and energy could rather be spent pursuing an affair and covering up your indiscretions!
I wish I was even kidding.
Ashley Madison tries to normalise duplicity as a meaningful character trait
If you don’t know, Ashley Madison is an online dating forum for the otherwise engaged. Basically, it’s where you go to find someone to have an affair with.
Ashley Madison punts their wares (very loudly) wherever they can, trying to normalise duplicity as a meaningful character trait and dressing up dishonesty as a good relationship prop. I’ve tried to ignore them for as long as humanly possible, but their last PR email was a final straw for me.
‘Rather than resorting to an unnecessary divorce, thousands of married couples are choosing to cheat in order to keep their marriages intact,’ the email reads.
Their latest PR message is based on the input of site members in their second marriage – of whom ‘76% of men and 84% of women were faithful during their first marriage and feel that this was part of the reason that their relationships failed’.
According to the press release, some of the top reasons these second-time-rounders are giving for cheating is: to avoid the financial and emotional strain of another divorce, to fulfil the lack of sex and intimacy, and to find an emotional connection.
So their first marriage failed because they didn’t cheat, and their second marriage, which is failing on most counts of why people marry, is not a failure because they’re cheating.
Is there some logical process I’m not following?
If you’re not enjoying sex, intimacy, connection and/or financial and emotional security in the first marriage and you cock up, sure. It happens. We live, we learn. But the second one?
Is it possible that you’re just shitty at relationships and marriage was never going to be an answer?
I’m all for not wanting to go through the pain or expense of another divorce, but I expect therapy will be time and money better spent.
Look, I’m open to talking about the value of ‘affairs’ over conscious open relationships, but what really galls me about the Ashley Madison-type rhetoric – and frankly anyone that tries to sell it – is that it’s presented as a glamour-shot of sanity, instead of what it really is: a relic, an old-timey ‘coping mechanism’ that is needed to tolerate ye ol’ ball n chain relationship.
And I just don’t understand why we’re still here.
The first time I considered an affair as a way of keeping a marriage together was through Dan Savage’s writing. He famously likes to talk about, and is frequently quoted as saying, how infidelity is keeping his marriage exciting and connected.
Infidelity is a state of continual inauthentic interaction with yourself and with others
But ‘non-monogamy’, open relationships, polyamory and consensual sex play are infinitely different to infidelity. The former requires a high level of emotional maturity, self-awareness and strong communication skills between the primary partners. Both partners are equally invested in the relationship, honest with each other and super boundaried with play partners.
Infidelity is all of not that.
It is a state of continual inauthentic interaction with yourself and with others.
I have written extensively about my view on infidelity and all the duplicity and inauthenticity of self it requires. Long-term affairs are not about who is the big baddie. To me, it’s either a symptom of relationship rot or it’s the inevitable conclusion of a story based on a relationship system of ‘shoulds’.
This societal system only allows for one type of narrow emotional and sexual relating: One man, one woman, joined in The Plan, ‘together forever and ever and ever and never a third shall join for some sex play and never shall we talk about uncomfortable feels lest we upset someone’.
Such great odds right?
My bugbear is staying in an affair and building stories to support the duplicity and denial
I’m not saying affairs never have a place.
I remember reading a story about a married woman in her early 70s who had met a man in his 50s that made her feel sexually alive for the first time in her life. Her husband was a strapping man in his 80s, but had no interest in sex and had never connected with her physically. Apart from the sex and physical intimacy, their relationship was great – they had a big, happy family, they were business partners and had a good friendship. She felt bad about the affair, but would feel worse if they divorced simply because of the sex. She decided to keep on with the affair until it fizzled out, which she believed it would.
I wonder if it did.
I’ve no doubt that there are other equally valid reasons to enter into affairs. My bugbear is staying in an affair and building stories to support the duplicity and denial.
Most of the ‘oh I could never say so and so to my partner’ or ‘i could never leave X because so and so’ excuses don’t hold any currency for me. Too many of the excuses are built on a deep sense of personal impotence and an addiction to suffocating comfort – as if once you’re married all personal choice flies out the door and you’re a victim to your circumstance, so oh well, there you have it, might as well settle in and get your kicks elsewhere…
click click on the internets
I support those who fuck up and learn and move on. Who wake up to the message their affair is trying to give them. I can get behind affairs that may even ‘need’ to happen for deeply complicated reasons.
But those reasons are not: we don’t talk anymore and the sex is boring and s/he doesn’t treat me nice and it’s all just so poopoo (but i’m not going to leave).
The Ashley Madison rhetoric is there to support sales by supporting and normalising this sort of impotence mentality in relationships and it drives me nuts.
If we can’t be honest with the people we’re committing to, what is it all for?
Getting real takes time, practice and a lot of bravery. Just ask anyone who has decided to face their mistakes, be honest about what they want, and has taken charge of their life to start moving towards integrity.
Maybe my opinion is too rigid: authenticity or bust. But if we can’t be honest with the people we’re committing to, what is it all for? If you can’t have the intimate conversations about feeling sexually or emotionally lacking with your partner, who is your (pretend) monogamy in aid of?
What is the point of being ‘in relationship with’ if we’re just dancing around smoke and mirrors?
If we can’t be honest with ourselves, who do we think we are?
- I really enjoyed this in depth article on online ‘dating’ sites for people looking to have affairs > I went undercover on Ashley Madison to find out why women cheat
- My affair saved my marriage
- Can I trust her if she cheated
- My wife is a secret cyber dom
- Defending the other woman