Extramarital affairs are in! At least according to Noel Biderman, who
has attracted 8.5 million people to his Internet dating site devoted to
married people seeking affairs since he founded it in 2002. A profile
of the AshleyMadison.com founder in today's Bloomberg BusinessWeek
suggests cheating is as popular as ever, especially with internet
forums making it easier to meet people. "The Internet dating market is
worth $1 billion to $1.5 billion in the U.S., according to industry
website Online Dating Insider, and some portion of that, from 10
percent to 30 percent, depending on whom you ask, involves people who
are already in relationships," writes Sheelah Kolhatkar
And based on the $20 million profit Biderman's company is expected to
generate this year from Ashley Madison's 1.3 million paying customers
(creating a profile is free but initiating conversation with someone
will cost you up from $49), the man might be onto something.
are that many married people really searching for someone else? A
recent study by the University of Virginia suggests the market for
unfaithful spouses may be shrinking, not growing. UVA Sociologist Bradford Wilcox is the director of the Marriage and Family Project that
conducted the study, and told Providence Journal contributor Rita Watson
that "22 percent of ever-married men and 14 percent of ever-married
women said they had had an extramarital affair over their lifetimes.
Also infidelity overall has not increased over the last 20 years."
our keen observation of the lives of celebrities has given us a skewed
perception of just how common adultery really is. Wilson insists that
"infidelity in sports and Tinseltown is higher than in the general
population, where rigorous research reveals that only a fairly small
minority of married people are unfaithful over a lifetime." And
observing the latest box office hits, Splice Today's Collin David
suggests that movies, such as the recent No Strings Attached, Hall
Pass, and The Dilemma, also perpetuate this notion that infidelity is
not only popular, but hilarious.
So how often do people cheat?
The real answer to that question is unclear. The number of people who can resist the urge may be on the rise, but in the
mean time, Biderman and Co. are banking off those who can't. Except, as Oxford research fellow Will Davies pointed out
back in October, that may be counterproductive: once you make infidelity the new normal, doesn't it lose a bit of its appeal?
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