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My Cheating Heart: lessons from my year on Ashley Madison

I was bored with my husband, resented my kids and yearned to feel sexy again. I was ready to have an affair

My Cheating HeartEverything you’re about to read is true. I’m withholding my name to protect my marriage, but the people, the places and the dates are just as I describe. It all began in the spring of 2011, after several bellinis at a Milestones with my best friend. She giddily whispered in my ear that she was having an affair with someone she had met on AshleyMadison.com, the hook-up website targeted at married people. She pulled out her iPhone and surreptitiously showed me a picture of her paramour. He was attractive, with a chiseled face and a broad smile. He’d ended their first date by kissing her passionately—something she hadn’t experienced in years. I felt a pang of envy.

She and I had met years earlier while working for the same PR firm and had bonded over a shared crush on an extremely handsome younger colleague. We spent many lunch hours discussing our interactions with him and laughing over what we’d do if we ever found ourselves alone with him in the backseat of his silver SUV, parked in a dark corner of the company’s underground garage. Sometime after that, we started to share pulpy erotic novels with titles like Wicked Ties, Fantasy Lover and Strange Attractions.

I had recently turned 46 and dreaded hitting the half-century mark. I visited the gym more often, lost some weight and even underwent some laser cosmetic procedures, all in attempts to delay the inevitable.

My husband and I had married in our early 20s, fresh out of university. We live in the suburbs and have two children, ages 10 and 12. Our marriage is relatively healthy—we love each other and we still have sex. But over the years, the frequency had decreased from three times a week to once a week, and it was routine and predictable. I also resented how much of my life was taken up by the kids’ soccer practices, hair appointments and parent-teacher interviews.

A few months after my friend’s confession, I was working at home one weekend while my husband and kids were away at our cottage. I’d recently started a public relations job on Bay Street, and I had some urgent project deadlines to meet. Once I’d finished, I found myself sitting on my bed, a glass of red wine on my night table, my laptop resting on my thighs and my eyes fixed on the landing page of Ashley Madison, or AM as it’s known to regular users.

I was ready to have an affair.

The site listed dozens of available married men in my general vicinity: NiceGuyOakville, etobicokedude, Fun_in_Mississauga, Burlington1on1. But before I could view their profiles, I had to create one of my own. “I seek a connection with a smart, funny, mature, manly, professional man,” I wrote. “You are in your 40s, dark-haired, blue-eyed, tall, fit and attractive.” I posted photos in a “private showcase” that someone could view only if I sent them a “key.” In one photo I was wearing a little black dress at a gala dinner; in another I posed like a ski bunny somewhere in Quebec. One of the pictures captured my blond, shoulder-length hair falling over one eye, my lips full and glossy, a tight, low-cut shirt emphasizing my cleavage. I was careful to crop out name tags and anything that could reveal the location in each photo—anything that could identify me.

My husband had been nothing but supportive of my new job. He never complained when I got home late, which happened often. I should have felt guilty embarking on this betrayal. Instead, I felt turned on.

 

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