Ashley Madison and the Modern Marriage


To any woman out on the singles scene, the Ashley Madison fall-out comes as no surprise. Although A-M is upfront about its users’ purpose, most dating sites are heavily populated by married/partnered men, and also, to a lesser extent, women.

This is certainly a topic I’ve written about before: I have been in love with a married man and met, or at least chatted to, countless others. I have even had occasion to speak with men whose partners I know. Luckily, none of them have been close friends, but I have certainly found myself in the “do I tell her or not” ethical bind.

I might add, in my own defence, that I have never knowingly, got up to any hanky-panky with a man whose partner is known to me. A narrow ridge of moral high-ground, I know, but I cling to it with an iron grasp!

So now we watch the wives, and some husbands, parade their hurt and shock all over the media. And although I am not unsympathetic, I do think the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, needs to cease. Anecdotal evidence would tell me that long-term fidelity is the exception, and not the rule. Statistical evidence seems to back me up. It would appear that around half of all coupled men and women have had an affair, and much more than half WOULD have one if they knew they wouldn’t get caught.

Interesting, I think, that it appears to be fear, rather than any true sense of loyalty, that keeps most people from an affair.  And I’m not so sure that it is purely fear of losing an otherwise loved partner, so much as fear of being judged by society and fear of losing the hard-won house/kids/business/friends/Gulfstream. Call into question my romanticism, if you will, but I have heard many a man (and some women) admit that the main reason they don’t stray, or don’t leave, is that they will be financially worse-off. Personally, if I found out someone was staying with me because they couldn’t let go of the beach-side pied-a-terre , I’d be more likely to kick them in the knackers than if they bonked my best friend.

The concept of marital fidelity was developed centuries ago in our cultural evolution, and for very good reason: it was the only way a man could be sure of the paternity of his children, which was a legally and socially important issue, at least in the upper classes. It has developed, much more recently, into a part of the over-burdened “curriculum” of marriage. It now has to deliver children, security, love, sex, companionship, a house, a business, a couple of cars, a retirement buddy and the promise that they will never want to fuck anyone else, ever. This isn’t even an ideal: it’s a ridiculous fantasy.

So, if the majority of us want sex with someone other than our primary partner, then why on earth are we getting our crotchless knickers in such a knot? I think this also fear: a fear of reaching out into a relationship unknown, rather than taking the simple, easy, standard marriage path .I’m not advocating polyamory for everyone. But what I am advocating is that we move away from this post-modern marital Cinderella syndrome, and start accepting that we can’t have the known universe AND fidelity too. Couples with open relationships don’t necessarily go out and shag anything that moves, but they at least can have an open dialogue, are much less likely to lie to one another, and feel little need to hide things. Or go on a site like Ashley Madison.

So we sit back and watch as the names come rolling up on our screen. These people haven’t killed anyone (that we know of…), they are most likely not sexually abusing children, they are probably, on the whole, decent human beings. So they’ve had an affair, or two, or six. Really? Is that SO much of a crime? Let’s cut the poor sods some slack.

Oh…except for Josh Duggar. Coz he’s a sanctimonious twat!!


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