AshleyMadison Creator Noel Biderman Explains Why Men and Women Cheat
Never heard of it? They've been covered on everything from Howard Stern to BusinessWeek and recently reached 11 million members -- all looking on the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters.In their words, "Life is short. Have an affair." So, maybe dot-coms like this are the reason 305-ers are having tons of sex? Or maybe it's the reason only a little more than half of the city is in a monogamous relationship. We spoke with AshleyMadison's creator Noel Biderman and he told us why people cheat in the first place.
New Times: Are you married?
Noel Biderman: I am married. My wife is a good partner and she supports me. Right now, I, like so many other people, am trying to battle through being in a monogamous relationship.
What made you want to start AshleyMadison?
I am a journalist and I read an interesting article talking about how online dating had changed the way we met and fell in love. But also how it came with the flaw that many people were already in relationships and were posing as something they weren't. It posed me with an incredible opportunity with the thought of, "how can I build a social network site just for people who want to have affairs?" Ten years later, we now have 11 million members, so clearly I was onto something.
Do you think everyone cheats?
Yes. I think at one point or another in their lives, the vast majority, even if they think it's wrong, will cheat.
What kind of people are on your site?
Everybody. Single and married people. Monday morning is the busiest time on my site. Because the weekend is full of expectations and if once again that falls flat, people are going to say that's it--that is the last straw. Everybody comes for my service. I now have 40,000 men over the age of 70 on my service. There is really nobody that won't look to pursuing an affair if they believe it's something they need.
What does your wife think of AshleyMadison?
She feels, much like I do, that human beings have free will. If someone wants to have an affair, it's not because they saw a commercial or heard a radio spot. It's because their life isn't working for them. So pointing fingers at a website isn't all that constructive. Ultimately, people need to be accountable in the actions they take in their lives.
And what about your parents?
My parents support me too. I think that their view on this was that it was going be a challenging business to operate and run. They have been married for almost 40 years and can imagine they have had their challenges around infidelity. I'm not sure what challenges they actually have had around the topic, but at the end of the day, they both understood what I was talking about it when I wanted to pursue the idea.
Do you get called a homewrecker?
Homewrecker, most hated man on the Internet, the most controversial website ever created--I get all of that. I understand that people, truthfully, don't understand the topic well enough. They don't understand infidelity and they haven't seen the research. We will sign up 25,000 people today alone. That is more than researchers could experience in their entire lifetime. It's very powerful information that I am able to gather on the topic. For the first time, we can actually understand both genders and every social economic class have affairs and why. There are so many factors.
Here is the real question: Why do people have affairs?
It depends. For men, it is clearly about an absence of sex in their relationship or a type of variety of sex that their partner is unable to provide. Maybe they want someone of a different ethnic persuasion.
For women, it's much more complicated. For them, it's trying to revisit a time in their lives that they were being courted and pursued. Now, fast forward ten years, their partners don't care about a lack of communication or a lack of intimacy. They need to be re-validated; it doesn't matter how old she is.
If one partner is 100 percent faithful and the other cheats, who is to blame?
I think both parties seem to blame each other. Women nowadays have a very challenging situation. What they are getting now is that a few years later in their life, sex becomes less interesting, their hormones change, they have kids and now their husbands are like, "what to do now?" I think it's hard for most of us to look at the world this way and say, "if I had two or three children, I could never love just one." Why when it comes to romantic levels, does it have to be singular?
Is there a way to prevent your partner from cheating?
There are factors that can improve that. I'm not going to sit here and say your man won't. If a man is into oral sex and you aren't willing to do it, you're probably going to run into a disconnect. It's probably a conversation to have pre-marriage. People want to evolve their sex lives and explore those type of things. It can be done in a healthy fashion. People need to talk about sex; it's not a bad thing.
I also think women are available to do a lot more things with their men, but haven't been asked. People are terrified of the consequences of the conversation. Maybe women should put emphasis on having these conversations. Men have a larger sexual appetite; I think we all know that. If couples aren't having sex for two to three weeks, there is something going on. A man is going to pursue some type of outlet.
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