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That's the motto of a hugely successful on-line "premier discreet dating service" that boasts over 3 MILLION "like minded members".
What do they mean by "discreet dating service"? I'll tell you since I happen to know quite a bit about this site.
Why do I know so much? I'm blaming it on the newly disabled son I just spent a week helping. As I said in my last post, my 20-something year old man/boys are avid fans of Howard Stern. I've been listening to more than my fair share of Howard Stern this past week. I'm also blaming Howard Stern who, despite claims he has never been unfaithful to either one of his wives, is obsessed about this site for married people who are looking for an affair.
This site has a personal guarantee that you will have an affair. Look:
Okay, call me a prude, call me old-fashioned. And I'll tell you right now. You won't be seeing any future post with a retraction from me on how I feel about this site.
I simply will not or cannot normalize infidelity unless there is mutual consent between both adult parties.
I also will not demonize infidelity. Life is not black and white and neither are people. Infidelity does not necessarily end in divorce. Statistically, over 40% of married people report having at least one affair in the lifetime of their marriage.
As painful and earth shattering as affairs are, they can be a catalyst to a more honest and satisfying marriage. But this isn't easy, and it takes time. Alot of it.
There are different types of affairs. There are sexual affairs,there are emotional affairs. There are affairs of the heart. There are passionate affairs and there are affairs out of boredom. There are Internet affairs. There are text message affairs. All affairs are hurtful and damaging.
Of some note is the sexism inherent in affairs. We often hear the term, "the other woman", "the mistress", "the home wrecker". There don't seem to be any names for the men.
I'd like to get rid of the stereotypical names right off the bad, for either gender. And I am insistent when I say that a third person cannot break up a good and healthy marriage.
It's always been of interest to me how much people have demonized Angelina Jolie for being a home wrecker of the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Really? I'm amazed at how many people were privy to the private life of Pitt and Aniston. I'm amazed at how many people paint Jennifer as the poor pitiful victimized wife and Angelina as the wanton evil husband stealer?
No one knows the intimate lives of couples, except for the couple themselves. And even they don't agree on the details.
The only people that breakup a marriage are the people IN the marriage.
And another myth that needs to be dispelled: It takes 2 people to disintegrate a marriage. Not true. It only takes one.
The concept of marriage implies the concept of implicit trust. You can't have intimacy without trust. You can't have a good marriage without trust.
This Ashley Madison site (sounds like a pink bubble gum teen girl site) makes it sound appealing and oh so harmless to have an affair. Who will it hurt? Life is short. You deserve a little fun. No harm. No foul.
You know, if it really worked that way, who would I be to judge? But I am in the unique position to see the carnage and devastation of these "harmless romps" in my office and it's not something that can be dismissed away with the casual wave of a hand.
And let's get something else straight. Good people with integrity have affairs. The marriage has gone dull, one partner may have lost total interest in sex, spouses take each other for granted and the shine is gone from the once luminous exchanges. Kids are born, bills need to be paid, jobs are lost. Stress not only does a number on us physically, but emotionally as well.
And then along comes...fill inthe blank. That person who thinks you are just terrific...wonderful....exciting. Suddenly, the black and white vision turns into brilliant color. You feel alive again. Everything feels new and different. The harmless flirt here and there. Nothing wrong with that. But somewhere along the intoxicating way, the lines become blurred.
The flirt becomes a longer look, the glance becomes a stare. A little text here and there, an e-mail, a private e-mail account. No harm. No foul.
Mid-life comes along staring in your face. You're going to die! Are you really only going to have sex with one person? Really? The comedian Louis CK says, "Who are we kidding? When you're married, you don't have sex with one woman. You have NO sex when you're married. I'd love to have sex with one woman." Louis has two small children.
For some, an anonymous one-night stand, like the ones that Ashley Madison guarantees, is enough. For some, they fall in love. For most, it really isn't love. It's infatuation, it's lust. For a few, they truly fall in love, like for real. Those aren't affairs. Those are new beginnings. People who fall in love for real do tell the truth, leave their spouses, and move on.
But for most, the affair doesn't mean much to the person who is having them. When they are found out, after the "I'm so sorry" comes the "they mean nothing to me".
What means nothing to the spouse that has been betrayed are those words.
Let me say that again, once the trust has been broken, words mean nothing. Behavior does, but not words.
The simple formula for rebuilding trust after an affair but not so simple to do is:
Time. Behavior. Time + Behavior = Trust
This requires patience on the part of both people. The partner who has been betrayed may or may not have a lot of questions. To the offending partner, these questions get tiresome and old. One wants to "move on", "get over it". Patience is required. Answering questions is required.
But at some point, it's time to let the past be the past. Forgiveness is essential, but not forgetfulness. No one ever forgets. But the baggage of the past cannot continue to be lugged around, forever thrown into the face of the offending partner for years and years to come.
No easy task overcoming the devastation of an affair. But doable. Definitely doable.
The man who started the Ashley Madison site is making a killing. I hope he's got a good chiropractor. How he sleeps at night is a mystery to me. He's making a killing while marriages are being killed. And the other unspoken truth about affairs and its damages: the effects on the children. No one at Ashley Madison is talking about the children.