What Happened When I Joined A Dating Site For Cheaters
And, yes, my husband was fully aware of my intention to 'facilitate intimacy' elsewhere.
“I know your secret.” So began the ominous email that wrenched my attention away from my already stressful workday. Sitting there staring at the message, I felt my pulse quicken as I realized that this wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t spam. Someone had the dirt on me.
“I know that you used services from a company that specializes in facilitating adultery.”
The message went on to show me proof: They had the username and email associated with my since-deleted Ashley Madison account. Like many people who joined that site, I had hurriedly deleted the account after I read of the massive hack of the dating site for cheaters. It was too late, though: Apparently, this information had lingered long after my impulsive decision to join the site.
The letter proceeded to demand $2,000 in bitcoin, which I didn’t use or even understand. What I did understand were the overt threats being made against me. I was being blackmailed.
“If you don’t comply with my demand, I am not just going to humiliate you, I am going to humiliate those close to you as well.”
The first person I contacted was my husband, whom I’ll call “Joe.”
“Don’t give them a thing,” Joe said. “Don’t even acknowledge it. Delete it, and maybe report it. You’ve got nothing to hide.”
Maybe I should back up a bit. Yes, my husband was fully aware of my intention to “facilitate intimacy” elsewhere. He knew it and he had agreed to it. “Whatever will help you feel better,” he said.
What would have helped me feel better was the one thing he wouldn’t agree to: regular sex in our marriage. By “regular” I mean more than once or twice a year.
I clearly remember the day I created the cheating account: Joe was literally yelling at me as I crafted my infidelity username. He didn’t normally yell, and neither did I, but we were having a particularly vile version of our standard argument: He was angry because I was a slob and didn’t do enough around the house, and I was angry because he refused to even try to rekindle our comatose sex life. There are a lot of possible reasons guys don’t want to have sex.
For some it’s hormonal, physiological or age-related; for some it’s a consequence of stress at work or feelings of personal unattractiveness. It’s possible some of these played into Joe’s lack of interest in sex, but I don’t think they were the main reason. I think he was doing it (or not doing it) as a means of punishment. He was unhappy living with me (I will admit that if there were a magazine called Bad Housekeeping, I’d be on the cover), and not expressing affection or intimacy was a way of showing his resentment.
I had genuinely tried to improve my overall organizational and household-running skills, but after a while, the idea of trying to jump through behavioral hoops to “earn” sex with my own husband began to anger me. How could he withhold sex to “punish” me without also punishing himself in the process? I will probably never have the answer to that question. The idea that he was maybe getting sex elsewhere has naturally occurred to me, but it’s hard to imagine he would still be so miserable if that were the case. Over the course of my marriage, almost no one knew of the problems we were having. Marital sex was, and largely continues to be, a taboo subject. I had told only one friend about Joe’s refusal to be intimate.
Although she was empathetic, her experience was the opposite; like many women I knew, she generally had to fight her husband off. The fact that I was the odd woman who couldn’t manage to excite the gender known for being perpetually and indiscriminately horny since puberty made me feel even more defective — and very alone.
To make matters worse, I was literally alone a good part of the time I worked from home. And I wasn’t a huge extrovert.
My social encounters were usually with Joe and our couple friends. Oddly enough, Prince Charming wasn’t waiting for me at the ShopRite. It reached a point where, hermetically sealed in my homebody environment, I truly had no idea whether I was attractive to men or not.
Based on Joe’s reaction, I was not. I joined Ashley Madison as a last-ditch attempt to find romance outside the relationship without having to end the marriage. It was really very sad; me going to such lengths to hold on to a dying marriage, and him being OK with it. I think I used up all the courage I had just to open the account, tell Joe about it, and create what I thought was an appealing profile. There were a few back-and-forth, flirty exchanges with a few guys, and some invitations to meet up.
Yet my natural shyness, combined with my reluctance to actually take this huge step, stopped me. I never had an affair through Ashley Madison, or at all. I became the target of blackmail for a sin I’d never committed. When Joe decided to end the marriage in 2018, I had been 100 percent faithful to my 13-year, mostly sexless marriage.
In retrospect, I have absolutely no regrets about not acting on my Ashley Madison account, largely because I could not have afforded to pay up on the blackmail if I’d done the deed. I do think it might have helped me to have a fling at some point, if only to show me that I could still attract another man. Yet all this is behind me now, and all I can do is know what I won’t accept in the future. I will never again stay with a man who doesn’t want me; no woman should. I’ve since learned that there are many women out there who have been through the same exact thing. To these women, I want to say this: It’s not you. Really. You deserve better. I hope things change for you and for all the women in this situation. Most of all, I hope things change enough that someday I won’t be embarrassed to tell you my name, and you won’t be embarrassed to tell me yours.