Ashley Madison –

For this blog post I was interested in discussing the “dating” website called Ashley Madison.  (I use dating in quotation marks because I think in this case this classification could be debatable.) Ashley Madison is described as an online dating and social network service that appeals to people who are already in a relationship. The Ashley Madison slogan is as follows: “Life is short. Have an affair”. Surprisingly, the websites 3.2 million members suggest that the site is doing something right…

For a little glimpse of what Ashley Madison is all about, look at the following commercials:

One Night Stand:

Bad Blind Date:

This Couple is Married… (I wouldn’t watch this one around your parents!)

I think the success of this website can be related to the idea that it answers/satisfies many of the user’s needs that are outlined by Lawson and Leck in Chapter 31.  For example, the site offers companionship. Users are able to create relationships outside of the ones they may already have. (The more companionship the better!… in this case at least).

The site also offers users with a level of comfort through the discretion of the website and the personal relationships they establish within it. For example, the blind date commercial shown above illustrates that users seek both companionship, comfort and support in a relationship established on Ashley Madison as a result of a lack thereof in their current relationship.

Ashley Madison also promotes freedom from commitment in a literal way. Other online dating website create a feeling of freedom because users are not face-to-face with the other person. However, Ashley Madison furthers these feelings by explicitly telling users the site is used for affairs. When you think about having an affair, the term commitment, and every aspect that goes along with it, are basically thrown out the window.

One of the more popular reasons why I believe Ashley Madison is a popular “dating” site is because it promotes dating as an adventure and a romantic fantasy simultaneously. (Like Larson and Leck suggest) The adventure lies in the fact that you are engaging in adulterous acts, and run the risk of getting caught. While the romantic fantasy aspect is what the site bases themselves on. For example, the site is set up in a way that users engaging in chats do so in what is called a “fantasy date”.  On a fantasy date users have the ability to “set the mood” by selecting different backgrounds for their chat.

(Although I hate to admit it)… After looking at the reasons Larson and Leck suggest that users engage in online dating, it becomes a little more understandable as to why 3.2 million members pay to use Ashley Madison…


1 Comment

  1. A dating site (I’ll use that term here) like Ashley Madison is interesting to follow in terms of how it reframes the issue of establishing trust online. How do establish the trust of a relationship with someone when the first thing you know about them is that they are willing to break that trust, through their very presence here? And how does it change your interactions when they know the same thing about you?

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