Notes from a Six-Month 'Ashley Madison' Journey in Cleveland

“Just sex.” So read my tagline when I posted my first profile on Ashley Madison. I’d hastily assembled a bit of relevant information about what I was looking for: a regular partner, attractive, no diseases, no idiots. Also, free weekdays. After all, I’m a married mother of school-aged children—not exactly in the market for dinner dates and weekend getaways.

Did I lose you? You read it all correctly: I’m a suburban housewife who spent six months trolling for sex on an affair website. What’s more, I’m actually a pretty happily married housewife—almost twenty years with my husband. I wasn’t there to fill a void, or to be nurtured, or to fall in love. I wasn’t there to get out of my marriage, although I certainly could have ruined it. I really was looking for sex only—more, and different, sex than what I had at home.

I remember thinking early on that I must be one of maybe twenty women with profiles, due to the sheer volume of messages and winks I received. Photos of unsolicited penises flooded my AM inbox, attached to messages like, “I’ve got what it takes,” and “Free tomorrow—where can we meet?” An amazing number of men assumed that simply wanting sex meant I would have sex with just anyone, which was far from correct. And profiles that included photos of something other than dicks often simply showed a shirtless torso—very rarely were faces included. I couldn’t really complain though; after all, I never uploaded any photos to my profile. I just thought it too risky—the westside suburbs aren’t that big, and I’d already come across profiles of men whose wives I know.

Determined to find a sane, attractive man, I set about filtering through the messages. A man ten years my senior stuck out as promising, and after a couple days of messaging, I met him for coffee—and learned the first lesson of Ashley Madison 101. People lie. Profile pictures, I discovered the hard way that morning, were far from accurate. I left discouraged, but not ready to give up. From then on, though, as soon as I felt any potential with someone, I’d agree to meet them for coffee. Many times, I walked into some random Starbucks only to lay eyes on the guy and wish I could turn around and leave. Attraction, at least for me, was a huge component of this; if I wasn’t physically attracted to someone’s face, no amount of physical fitness or well-endowedness was going to sway me.

Over the course of two months, I probably met a dozen men at various Starbucks and Paneras across greater Cleveland. It became an experiment of sorts, to the point that I even wore the exact same outfit and styled my hair the same way each time. I’m no Gisele by any stretch, but I was never turned down—always had a follow-up message post-meeting telling me how sexy I was, or how I’d played down my attractiveness in my profile description. And I can’t lie: when a 28-year-old guy finds a 42-year-old mom sexy, it’s beyond flattering and a huge ego boost.

As strange as it sounds, many of the men I met wanted full-fledged affairs. They talked about how much they loved their wives, but how those wives never touched them anymore. These were wounded men looking for the emotional connection of sex, not just the act itself. And these were easily the majority. It got me wondering how many wouldn’t have even tried AM if their wives were still having sex with them. I actually met a couple of men after getting very close to the hotel phase who couldn’t ultimately go through with it. I sat in a bar one afternoon listening to one talk about how his wife used to always want sex, but since having kids she wasn’t interested. He showed me pictures of her, and I could tell how deeply in love he was with her. So I offered my own perspective of those early years raising kids, and sent him home to fuck his wife—because that’s what he wanted, far more than sex with a virtual stranger.

Of course, I was looking for just sex—someone who could spend a couple hours in a hotel bed pleasing me, then disappear from my life until the next time. I found a few who fit the bill, and one for some very hot sexting. My sex life with my husband didn’t suffer either—we still did it a few times a week. I looked at my pairings as enrichment sex; we did things with each other our spouses just wouldn’t be comfortable with—talking dirty, spanking, tying each other up, etc. We all love our spouses deeply, but weren’t being as fulfilled sexually at home as we’d have liked. It definitely helped to be on the same page. We enjoyed each other’s company, then went our separate ways. It was a great arrangement, and I dare say my AM experience ended up enhancing my sexual relationship with my husband. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but I can’t say at all that I regret it.

[Ed. note: The byline used here is a pseudonym.]

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