Among the big dating sites – and it certainly is big with 1.8 million people visiting the site every month – ashleymadison.com is by far the most controversial. Their provocative publicity stunts included everything from offering 1 million USD to any women able to prove they had sex with NFL superstar Tim Tebow (who claims being a virgin) to launching an ad campaigns specifically targeted partners with obese spouses.
Ashley Madison advertises itself as ‘saving marriages one affair at a time’ and is the biggest online dating site for people seeking extramarital affairs. It launched in 2001 and has 6 million active members at the time of writing. Even other topnotch extramarital affair sites such as Meet Locals or Naughty and Cheating will have trouble competing with that.
It’s possible to join the site free of charge, which allows users to set up a profile and respond to incoming requests. However, in order to message other users, a paid membership is required. ‘Winks’ can be sent even from free accounts but are unlikely to solicit a lot of responses. A member under a free account can also add a profile to his ‘Favorites List’ and the site allows a maximum of 1,000 members to be favorited. Performing searches, receiving winks, sending and receiving photos and replying to a ‘full member’ are also allowed on a free account.
Sending messages (and receiving replies) and gifts, chatting, instant messaging, priority mail can be done only on an upgraded/paid account.
Money Back Guarantee and Other Features
The touchy theme of the site (as well as the fact that it’s a paid site) means that a higher percentage of users tend to be genuine (at least about their intentions of finding a date) versus other sites where people join out of curiosity or to get a sense of their own ‘market value’ without having any intention of actually meeting someone. This might also be the reason why Noel Biderman, founder of http://www.ashleymadison.com, went on record to offer a money-back guarantee for any new member who’s unable to find an affair within 3 months. While a lot of sites offer a 30-day money back guarantee, ashleymadison.com is one of the few that offers a guarantee and a refund offer that goes beyond that time-frame.
The site has an interesting rating system where a user gets to send quite specific feedback on a member’s profile. In this rating system, ‘Salacious’ is one of the rating options. The site also lets you be really discreet by offering an option to put masks over your display picture. It won’t do much by way of discreetness but the effort is probably appreciated by most members. There is also a function called ‘Private Showcase’ which does exactly what it’s called. You click on it in order to ask permission for access from a user.
For those who want to spice up their travels (ie, bored businessman husbands trapped in sexless marriages), a service called
‘allows you to send a custom priority message to up to 30 female members in the city you are visiting.’
Ashley Madison knows its clientele so well which explains the very specific options in its profile setting page. There is no need for a user to indicate preferences and encounters he wants using his own words because he can just tick them off a list and he is likely to find them.
As an extramarital affairs site, www.ashleymadison.com is probably not the best place for people who want to start a relationship (here’s a list of other similar affair dating sites). For anyone looking for something less serious it’s a unique option that ensures potential matches know what they get themselves into and are aware of the importance of discreteness. This is after all a quality shared by other affair sites such as Lonely Cheating Wives, Married But Lonely, etc.
However, the main issue with ashleymadison.com is that it simply doesn’t work. It sells the idea of having an affair, but rarely manages to deliver. Meetlocals, also an affair site, promises an experience of the same kind – no strings attached fun, and comes through. It could be user’s bad luck or it could be that the site’s algorithm needs more work. If you’re going to embark on a paid affair, you had better make the right choices.
Top Alternatives to Ashley Madison
- Meet Locals
- Cougar Life
- No Strings Attached
- Cheating Cougars
- Just Hook Up