Continued from PAGE 1: Can Cheating Save Your Marriage?
Momlogic: Why did you create Ashley Madison?
Noel Biderman: I didn't invent cheating, it's been around since the dawn of time. I am simply creating an easy platform for people to stray. Ashley Madison doesn't provide alibis or any sort of screening. We just connect people, then let them make their own decisions. However, we do have fraud detection and an anti-harassment policy so users can report people who abuse the system. We also encourage building a rapport with a person before going offline and taking things to the next level. It's just not safe to hand out your personal email address to someone you just met.
ML: Are you helping or hurting marriages?
NB: For some people, cheating allows them to be a better spouse. If you're going through a rough patch in your marriage or are sexually frustrated, finding a quick outlet can help. And I get thanked for it every day. Many people write to me saying Ashley Madison has saved their marriage and that without the opportunity to stray, they would be divorced by now. But I also get my share of hate mail. Some people think I am the devil.
ML: Do all men cheat?
NB: At one point or another both men and women have cheated on their significant other. Why? Because we're human. And if you can have an affair and know for sure you won't get caught, most people would commit adultery. Marriage is unnatural--for some reason we believe we're supposed to have only one partner for life. For those who can remain faithful for years and years, that's amazing. For most people, it's impossible.
ML: Who is your typical Ashley Madison customer?
NB: 70% of our users are men, but women are logging on in droves. Our research found women are joining the site after one or two years of marriage, while men wait until five or seven years. It could be because many women want to get married young and when they finally do, many realize it's not what they signed up for. Men join our site later because in general, they have more outlets to channel their sexual energy--strip clubs, for example. However, most people cheat when something isn't right in the relationship. Everyone has needs, and it's a struggle to spend your life trying to meet someone else's. Cheating isn't about finding someone better looking. It's about not getting your needs met--that's when people cheat.
ML: You're married with two children--does this mean you cheat as well?
NB: I've only been married for five years but I see how easy it is to cheat--the first year of marriage, the birth of your first baby, work stress--however, I am faithful. My wife has emotional and physical needs I must meet. If I don't, she may cheat on me. And believe me, I'd be crushed if that were to happen, but I'd also have to face the reasons why. I don't believe in 'till death do you part' if you're miserable. People believe they should stick out the marriage even if it's killing them. That's no way to live.
ML: What can you tell readers about the warning signs of a cheater?
NB: If you notice your partner acting dramatically different, suddenly working late, or acting distant, it's usually a telltale sign. Some people want to be caught because they're too scared to end their marriage--and for others it's a cry to save it. But we're too hard on cheaters. If Elizabeth Edwards can forgive her husband for straying, the world can too.
To hear what three Ashley Madison clients had to say about their actions, go to Can Cheating Save Your Marriage? Page 3