Here is one mom's true story.
Stephania, a mom of two, met her husband on AshleyMadison.com, a dating website for married folks ... and she's not ashamed to say so. She shares her story with momlogic.
momlogic: What was your situation when you signed onto AshleyMadison.com?
Stephania: At the time, my marriage was pretty much over. My daughters were almost 5 and 7, and I was a stay-at-home mom. My then-husband and I had married when I was 20. We had both grown up -- but we'd grown apart. We just had nothing to talk about. He'd come home from work, and he'd go his way and I'd go mine. There was no sex, no relationship, nothing. We were like strangers. I had pushed for marriage counseling, but he wanted no part of it. In October, we had talked about trying to stick it out through the holidays -- but it was pretty much over.
So that month, in October, I was at a girlfriend's house who was single. She was encouraging me to go on a singles site, and I said, "No, I'm not single." Even though my marriage was essentially over, I didn't want to go on there being married. She encouraged me to go on AshleyMadison.com instead, so I could be honest about my situation. So I set up a profile without a picture. About a week later, I went to my e-mail when the kids were at school and there were like six pages of e-mails.
ml: What kind of responses did you get?
S: There were lots of men on there that just wanted to hook up and have a relationship on the side. The majority of them seemed like they were just looking for sex, but that was the last thing from my mind. I was lonely. I wanted a relationship. I needed someone that I could talk to and have fun with. Something stood out about my now-husband, Michael's, e-mail -- our user names both contained references to music, so we had that in common. We both LOVE music. He was in the process of getting divorced. We started e-mailing back and forth, and we clicked instantly. I just couldn't wait to hear from him again.
ml: How did the relationship progress from there?
S: We started live-chatting on MSN. It got to the point where I was taking the kids to school and then rushing home to the computer. I couldn't wait to talk to him again! After a week or so, we swapped pictures and I thought he was very cute. He had all the qualities I was looking for. About four or five weeks into the relationship, we met for the first time. When I met him, there was an instant physical connection. It felt like we had always been a couple -- we knew each other that well.
ml: Did you have guilt over cheating?
S: Of course I did. I didn't want to hurt my first husband and I didn't want to hurt the kids. But my first husband ended up finding all the traces of my e-mails. My marriage ended pretty quickly after that.
ml: What happened next?
S: Michael and I got serious right away. He moved up here near me and we've been together ever since. We got married in Cabo San Lucas, and in February we celebrated our third wedding anniversary.
ml: What do you say to people who think Ashley Madison is a site for cheaters?
S: If I was a working mom and I was working at the time, it could have happened at work. If you are already thinking about it, it doesn't really matter what tool you use. But Ashley Madison takes a lot of the guesswork out. I had two kids, so I wasn't going to the bars or anything. This allowed me to connect with someone who was in a similar situation.
ml: How are things with you and your ex now?
S: My ex and I are the best of friends now. He's remarried. We have the kids for a week, he has the kids for a week. We even do things with the two of them as a couple. He's happy now. We both realize we were no longer meant to be together.
ml: How hard was it to go through something like this with small children?
S: It's very hard to go through this with kids. They're 11 and 13 now, and they still don't know all the details of how we met. They do know we met on the computer, and I will tell them the whole story someday. They think the world of Michael -- that's all I can ask for.
ml: Do you think you and Michael are meant to be?
S: I believe we are soul mates and we were meant to meet. We had both been married young. We both knew who we were as people and what we were looking for this time around.
ml: Do you tell people that you met on Ashley Madison?
S: We do tell people we met on Ashley Madison. It's not a secret. The site always gets a bad rap that it's for cheaters. But you wouldn't be on there if you weren't already to that point ... my marriage was essentially over, and that's the only reason I signed on.
ml: Do you recommend Ashley Madison for other moms?
S: If a mom is in a dead-end marriage, I would recommend it. But I would never tell my happily married friends to sign on.