Feb 15, 2011 3:11 AM by Ariel Wesler

High-Tech Cheating: Affairs are just a click away

Tonight, we are bringing you part one of our Special Report: High-Tech Cheating. Maybe it's a sign of the times, but one of the most popular online dating sites caters to cheaters.

AshleyMadison.com is a dating website that helps connect people looking to have an affair. Before you dismiss it as nonsense, you should know it's popularity is soaring. It has more than eight million users worldwide and more than 19,000 right here on the Central Coast.

Its racy ads proclaim "Life is short. Have an affair." It's the shocking slogan for AshleyMadison.com, a dating site designed for people looking to cheat.

"The only available men seem to married men in my age range," said one local user, who wished to remain anonymous.

Many say they're searching for intimacy that's missing in their own relationships or marriages. We found this Santa Barbara woman who first logged on last April. She's had a long distance boyfriend for 13 years, but the relationship has been on and off.

"Since I was in my early 50s and I still look pretty good, I thought, I don't want to sit at home anymore," she said.

About four months later, her boyfriend found out and to her surprise, hung on.

"He was ok with it and we decided at that point to have an open relationship," she said.

Our second Ashley Madison user is a 49-year old single man. He's been using the site for about a year and says for him, it's about fishing.

"Partly for search, but partly for entertainment to be honest. I mean, it's interesting to see what the people, especially the women are out there to do," he said.

"I was finally going out there and getting the attention that I wanted," said our female user.

And pure attention seems to be a big draw. People want to see who they can attract. Our male user says he's had encounters with about 25 percent of the women he reached out to on the site.

"There's a lot of ego stroking that goes on. People feel good about it but when it really comes down to it, they're afraid to move on anything," he said.

He says sleeping with married women comes with its perks.

"The chances are much better they know exactly what they want. There's not gonna be a lot of strings attached and generally, you're gonna end up with somebody's who healthy, if you know what I mean," he said.

Another male user says wedding vows don't even address sex.

He said in an email, ". . .if there is a segment of your life that is missing, you will logically try to fill that void. You can still love your wife on many levels but make love to another to enjoy that wonderful gift of life; sex. Unfortunately, our Judeo/Christian society rejects the idea completely."

Some users say at their age, it's a chance to have fun without all the baggage.

"At the end of the day, you both go home to your own homes and there's no emotional ties and there's no drama," our female user said.

She believes humans aren't meant to be monogamous and says she doesn't search for men. They contact her, an experience that has been liberating and guilt free.

Reporter: Do you think what you're doing is wrong?

Female User: If you have tried all your efforts to make something work and your partner is not willing to work with you, then no, I don't think it's wrong," she said.

So, just how popular is the site locally? More than 13,000 users live in the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria area. 69 percent are men and 31 percent are women.

More than 5,600 users live in the San Luis Obispo area. 74 percent are men and 26 percent are women.

Still, there a lot of people who without a doubt think this website is wrong and disgusting. Tomorrow night, we'll take a look at the moral debate surrounding AshleyMadison.com. You'll hear from a local marriage counselor and the man behind the website that's made him rich and infamous. That's all coming up tomorrow night, in Part II of our Special Report: High-Tech Cheating.

Click here to read a blog posting by the female Ashley Madison user we interviewed for this story.


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