I’m JJ, Kitty’s husband. I’m oft-mentioned but rarely seen in the wild, kind of like Big Foot, or the Incredible Hulk (though sadly without all the bulgy muscles. On the other hand, I don’t have the green complexion either, so let’s call it a wash.)
Up to now I’ve mostly hung out in the background for professional reasons. Much as I would love to be “out and proud” I’ve got one of those jobs where guys with no sense of humor, bad dandruff and a combover sit around in polyester shirts and laminated ID badges, frowning on people who don’t vote Republican.
I’ve wanted to “guest post” for quite awhile on any number of topics, but my amazing wife has so much great stuff to say I’ve always kind of said, “Maybe next month.” However, the past couple of weeks, I finally thought, “Yeah, now’s the time! I just gotta weigh in on this one…”
Why’s that? First, I saw a magazine sitting on the desk of the accounting clerk in my company finance office. It was Time Magazine. Time-fucking-Magazine. Bastion of staid, century old media. And on the cover? “Is Monogamy Over?”
The “piece” if you can even call it that (except as precursor to “piece-of-crap”) wasn’t even a story as such, just a couple of blathering personal opinions from no one in particular. What a waste of a great opportunity to actually have a conversation about that very question. And Time wonders why their business is going down the tubes…
Anyway the piece itself wasn’t so important, at least to my point, as the fact that this was the cover-page issue for a mainstream news publication. Hooray! This on top of several stories (here and here, for example) on CNN in the last year, and you’d almost think people were beginning to catch on to the eminent sense and logic of not expecting that lifelong exclusivity is not ideal (let alone realistic or fun) for every couple.
I’m not trying to convert anyone for whom non-monogamy isn’t right or interesting of course, but clearly there’s a grotesque mismatch between what is said and what is done. Why not stop being liars, cheaters and (worse than both in my worldview) hypocrites and have an honest conversation about the option of non-monogamy as a legitimate choice for some people?
Oh, and that mismatch I talked about between what’s said and what’s done? We can now quantify that much better than ever before, thanks in part to – among many other things – the Ashley Madison hack.
See what I actually do in aforementioned stuffy-job-in-beige-cublicle is analyze data. And I’ve had a hoot of a time the past week or so with the Ashley Madison thing. Wanna know what it says?! I did too. So here’s (at least a little of) what it says, and what I think that says about monogamy in America.
Let’s start with some basic facts:
What is Ashley Madison? Well that’s about to be “what was”, since they’re effed as a company. The firm will be dead in months though the lawsuits will last years. Anyway it was a “dating” website that explicitly marketed to married people who wanted to cheat. Their tag line was “Life’s short. Have an affair.” Classy.
What happened? Someone hacked into their system and downloaded their customer database. I don’t mean just names and credit cards either. I mean the WHOLE thing. Then they emailed the company as a big “F U” and told them they had done it and would post it all on the Internet. Then they waited, letting management freak out and stew about it in anticipation of the train wreck, which is so much more fun than just posting the stuff right out of the gate. Then they went ahead and posted the whole enchilada.
Who did it? No one knows the individuals involved, though the data was posted by a known hacker group. They may have wanted to grab the data just for fun (hackers do that) or for extortion purposes (someone, though not necessarily the people who stole it, is already busily doing that) or maybe they just pissed somebody off.
So what does the data actually say? Well, here’s the first fun fact – This site, which was as recently as this spring valued at half a billion dollars+ and discussing an IPO, turns out to have been a huge freaking joke at the expense of its overwhelmingly-male customers.
That’s not because the dudes outnumbered the ladies, which is hardly surprising. (And that’s not because married women don’t dream of an affair or an exciting new lover – studies consistently show that they do, and do more than dream about it quite regularly. I personally think it’s just that women don’t need to go pay a website to find that if they want it.) But even so, the M/F ratio of nearly 7-to-1 was still a bit shocking.
That’s not the fun part, though. Oh no! To quote one researcher who actually examined not just the data, but the source code of the site itself:
What I have learned from examining the site’s source code is that Ashley Madison’s army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud… The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site are plentiful and eager… Though partly corrupted, [the data] did hold hundreds of readable company emails that revealed the company was paying people to create fake women’s profiles and to chat with men on the site.
Some estimates of the number of actual, real and active women on the site numbered in the tens of thousands. Remember, that’s to balance 28 million men. The rest? Bots, scripts and paid fakes.
Awesome. All I could think of is the old chestnut that “A fool and his money are easily parted.” Whether the bigger fool here is the investors or the users, I’m still not sure, but I find it hysterical in both cases. As an aside, I hope management loses everything they own and ends up shamed, unhireable, and divorced by their spouses (not for infidelity of course, but for being lying, cheating, scam artists and scumbags. (Included in the “outed” users by the way were a bunch of truly epic hypocrites like “family values crusader” Josh Duggar. I hope he shares that special room in hell with management when his day comes.)
Now we could leave the story there, and I’d mostly chuckle myself to sleep at the expense of both the investors and the users as a bunch of suckers, except this has real and sometimes tragic consequences. There have already been cases of blackmail, divorce and even suicide because of the people who feared the shame, the humiliation or other consequences of being outed by the hack. Which is actually my point.
Let me say this again: People are living in fear, or being extorted, or getting served with divorce papers, or killing themselves because they chose to – or thought they had to – sneak around on the Web to have a sexual partner other than their spouse. And now the proverbial cat is out of the bag.
Now I’ll add to that just one little tiny piece of the analysis I did myself. If you include a discount “I’m calling bullshit” factor for the 40% of men on Ashley Madison who claimed to be single, my conservative estimate is that there were at least 6 million married American men on the site between the ages of 18-44. (The site groups “North American” but I’ve included a discount estimator for the Canucks. You can do your own math if you like, there’s lots of good charts here.)
Based on some crunching of data I pulled from the US Census Bureau, (age ranges and things don’t line up perfectly, but directionally you’ll get the point) this would imply that… wait for it… it’s possible that something like ONE IN SIX married American men in this age range was trying to cheat on their wife on a single site, never mind all the other ways and websites where that can happen.
Think about that for a second…
There’s lots more interesting stuff in those numbers, trust me. But for now, my overarching single thought was simply this – people’s lives and marriages are being ruined. Hypocrisy about monogamy and values and morality is absolutely rampant. And none of it is necessary. If that isn’t motivation for a larger conversation about monogamy and the stresses, pressures and challenges of maintaining it long-term, I don’t know what is.
Thanks for “guest blog posting”, baby! You rock! I know it was getting super annoying that I would ask you where this post was on your busy “to do” list every single freaking day for two weeks. But I am so proud of you for getting it done! I think the information that you shared is SO IMPORTANT and SO VERY REAL, and we all need to know! Sooo what do you peeps think about anything written here? Did anyone read the Time article? It was such a joke! I mean… they had a quote from Miss Piggy there. MISS PIGGY! What the fuck does a pink pig puppet know about monogamy being over or not! Come on, guys! Really?!?! I will “Hiiiiiiii-yah” karate chop you! 🙂 On that note…
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too)
Excellent summation of a ridiculous, fluffy, miss piggy quoting, article. And great points that show statistically how freaking crazy common infidelity is in our society. And yet I had to chuckle that to most folks that’s more acceptable than an open relationship or polyamory. Nice having you as a guest blogger 🙂
Thanks for your awesome and equally hilarious comment. And thanks for having my back about the silliness of including Miss Piggy as a valued commentator on the topic! Geez! Yes, I think my husband is an excellent writer and superb researcher with a sense of humor as well. Let’s have him back! Whaddya say, sweetie?
Obviously, I can’t speak for one in six American men… but I did indeed have an account at Ashley Madison, more to see what all the fuss was about than anything (the fact of botchat became obvious pretty quickly, and of course, to go any deeper, you have to shell out, and I am, and will always be, an f2p gamer). And given the whole ethical non-monogamy thing, my wife of course knew about it. (I never encouraged her to sign up because of the need to pay, pay, pay, but I have on every other dating site I’ve ever been on.)
Data on how many of those accounts were currently active–how many had been logged into more than once in the past month, for example–would be extremely telling. Most websites do not have a long tail. People sign up because of the advertising, are disillusioned, never log back in again.
So it’s because I code for a living, I’m sure, but I’m going to wait until I see how many of those accounts had actually seen some use recently before passing judgment on the lot.
Except Josh Duggar. Fuck that guy.
Robert, your comment is very interesting and I loved hearing your perspective (especially “Fuck Josh Duggar.”). I find it fascinating that you are in an open relationship and had an account there and all that you observed about your experience. Very telling and intelligent observations as well. You sound quite analytical like my husband… I met my husband on match.com (which I paid for), a boyfriend on Love@aol.com (which was free), and my ex-boyfriend on aff.com (which was free also). So I’m no stranger to dating sites and don’t have an issue paying for a quality service if I feel it is doing a good job for me, helping me make quality connections. The whole philosophy behind Ashley Madison however makes me want to vomit personally. But that’s just me over here.
Monogamy isn’t over. It’s there. Just like Straight people aren’t fading away. People had urges and they still do. In today’s world people can explore the alternatives. And some people are preferring the alternatives. Ashley Madison hack? That was a cruel act. I wasn’t a member there. But it did ruin some people’s lives. I’m not talking about only married life. Some people’s social lives are also attacked. Some people have valid reason to live in shadow
I totally agree that monogamy isn’t over, nor should it be. I actually think the headline and question itself was also ludicrous and silly (as well as the wrong question to ask). I agree that are aspects to the Ashley Madison hack that were cruel. But it is done now, and they did make a point. Also, signing up for a website like that is definitely an “enter at your own risk” or peril decision. We are always at the end of the day the sum of our own actions. Those were conscious decisions the members made to go on there, putting oneself at risk if indeed it could “ruin one’s life” to be found there. I totally understand that some need to live in the shadow and I totally empathize with that whole-heartedly. No dispute. We all need to be cautious and look out for ourselves in our own situations. This situation partly shows how being dishonest can turn around and bite one in the arse (and not in the fun way).
I have an Ashly Madison account also, and actually met someone there who is also poly. I signed up knowing that most of the actual women there would not be suitable for me, because I can’t handle liars and cheaters. The fact that I did find someone made it very worthwhile (except for the hack). Since the hack I have been getting a huge amount of sexual spam, which I figure is due to the hack. So far it doesn’t appear that my identity has been compromised, and I hope that continues to be the case.
Hello Jim. Again, so interesting that you are open and honest, had an account at Ashely Madison and found a genuine polyamorous person there. Good for you! That must have been alot of “weeding through the riff raff” of liars and cheaters to find the ethically non-monogamous peeps on there. But I for one am glad that you did, and that it worked for you. This does seem to highlight the need for an ethically non-monogamous dating site that people can trust. I think it is still a shame that we all feel we need to “hide” due to discrimination while one is being open and honest, yet it is more commonplace and accepted to cheat! Wow!
It was indeed a huge amount of ‘weeding’. There are poly dating sites available, but none that I have found that are worth their salt so far. I do have hopes that Kotango will be a good dating site as well as a social site once they are no longer down for maintenance.
I’ve written comments elsewhere about the hilarity of the Ashley Madison hack. Honestly, the execs at AM are just as delusional as most of their clients ( apologies to Jim Polylover, but I’m willing to bet that most of the clients were married men who used the site to cheat on their partners because they were assured it was “secure”) but you have to admit the business plan is brilliant. Non ethical non monogamy ( whew…) will always hold a thrill for people. The risk, the taboo, it provides a rush when your needs aren’t being met, mostly because you are to insecure to discuss them with your partner. ( As my ex told me, it was just EASIER to cheat, it was the path of least resistance, and when I didn’t get caught the first time, it got easier and easier to justify).
Thank you so much for comment contribution to the conversation. I agree that though there were open, honest and ethically non-monogamous members on the site, they were far outnumbered by those attempting to cheat on their spouses. I guess it was a brilliant business plan until they got caught with their pants down, so to speak. I remember the “thrill of cheating” back when I was a cheater myself (I am a “cheater in recovery”). But it was eventually overshadowed by the guilt and shame I felt in lying to my partner’s face and acting out of my own integrity.
I too was told only weeks ago that it was “easier” to cheat on me, by my boyfriend in our openly polyamorous relationship. Wow. Talk about non-ethical non-monogamy, eh? The path of least resistance in the form of cheating shows a lack of personal integrity, self-esteem, courage as well as respect for one’s partner, in most cases and in this gal’s opinion. <—
I agree completely. While I understand that some people realy have worked hard to repair and restore intimacy in their relationships, to no avail, then resort to extramarital affairs, IMHO, if the intimacy is gone so is the relationship, and both parties deserve more, so it’s time to get out. Amazingly, my ex even cheated on the people he was cheating on with me ( if that makes any sense…LOL) for YEARS. 3 separate long term relationships out side our marriage, none of the three knew about each other, and he hooked up with whomever was available via Craigslist every chance he got. It boggles the mind. And…. he is back at it, the day I left he was contacting people. He didn’t have an Ashley Madison account, but he was on CL and social media hookup sites for people with very specific fetishes. If the personals at CL ever get hacked a whole lot of married men on the DL are gonna be in hot water.
I am one of those rare females who had an account on Ashley. I never met anyone though. I was only on it for a few hours. My husband and I opened up our marriage and I couldn’t think of where to begin dating except there. Within a few weeks I discovered the concept of polyamory and the website kotango which is linked with the book “Sex at Dawn”. Dealing with the cheating men on Ashley was demoralizing. They were just so sad and conflicted, not a match for my openness. I really feel for those struggling with monogamy. I did for years. But polyamory is a beautiful fit for my husband and I. I hated the TIME article. It was awful but I’ll admit seeing the title lifted my spirits! It made me feel wonderful.
Thank you for sharing, especially as a female member from the Ashley Madison website! So very interesting that you felt you had nowhere to turn to find suitable partners. Great insight. I have heard of kotango. Has that site helped you find partners with some success? Also very telling that dealing with the cheating men on A.M. was demoralizing. Very insightful to hear your firsthand perspective. Thank you! Polyamory is indeed a beautiful fit for my husband and I too. When I read the introduction to the Ethical Slut years ago, it was like the skies parted and an angel came down and said it was OK to be me, once I figured out what that was! Same sentiment for me about the Time cover. I was so sadly disappointed when I read the article. I wanted to throw the magazine across the room! Such a wasted opportunity to be heard there. But at least now we know where Miss Piggy stands on the topic. 😉
I found my first partner on Kotango. I’ve since moved to OK Cupid. I found my current boyfriend there. We’ve been together for almost two years. We recently opened up again to the possibility of new partners and I quickly found a new friend on Okcupid.
Since you brought up Kotango, do you have any idea on how long it will be down for maintenance? Polyamory Network seems to be the only viable poly social site that is currently available.
No I haven’t heard. I’m waiting to see what new changes are on board. I haven’t heard of polyamory network. I will check them out. Thank for the name.
I don’t think monogamy is dead or should it be. But it’s wonderful that the idea of ethical nonmonogamy is going mainstream so more people know they have a choice
I think we need to consider the very real and demonstrable possibility that TIME is no longer the magazine it once was, but has taken a very strong veer to the left and their purpose in such an article and cover is less than honorable. I believe they are attempting to use polyamory as a tool to denigrate monogamy altogether. I don’t care to go into their political ties or conspiracy debates, but I do personally sincerely believe the undermining of the American family and definition of marriage is at the root of their intent. They don’t yet fully understand that polyamory is a truly viable and loving alternative to monogamy. They see it as throwing a wrench in the gears at worst and a way to generate controversy in order to sell magazines at best. Anyway, that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, but based on years of observation and putting together puzzle pieces that fit a bit too perfectly for comfort.
I think one of the factors that made AM so appealing is that it seemed to be an easy way to at least explore non-monogamy (ethical or otherwise) without any serious investment – or repercussion. Oops on that. The problem as I see it is that there are no real models for people who want to explore ethical non-monogamy. The only model for most people IS cheating! When I started dating, I met a very nice man – cute, smart, funny – through my on-line dating site. We had some fun chit-chat, then I suggested we meet for a drink. Awkwardness ensued, “Uhhhh, well….I have to check my calendar…get back to you”. It didn’t take long to figure out he was married and not being open with his wife. That doesn’t appeal to me – the last thing I need is someone’s drama. But we did keep talking and really walked through what it was he was looking for and why, how he hoped his marriage would look if he made these changes, how he could approach it with his wife and so on. I pointed out that he owed it to his wife – his life partner to whom he had made a number of commitments – to discuss this with her first. If they agreed that opening their marriage would be a good thing then by all means – he should contact me and we would have a fabulous time. If not, then go forth together – maybe even stronger than before – and keep talking with each other!
I never heard from him again. But most people don’t have anybody to help them or lead them in this regard. I’m lucky in that my job and my life allows me to be completely open, and I hope by my example and answering any and all questions about what it means to live a poly life, there are a few less confused and cheating people out there!
We should not need Ashley Madison – we shouldn’t need poly dating sites either. I look forward to the day when this is just one more lifestyle choice among many.
As always Kitty (and hubby) thanks for a thought provoking post. Great comments here!
Great post! I haven’t read the article, and don’t see that changing as I don’t typically enjoy Time Magazine. I find it fascinating how much more accepting some people are of cheating than they are of ethical non-monogamy. I confided a few years ago in a close friend of mine that my wife and I were exploring the world of swinging. He was supportive and curious when I told him. He voiced concerns over us possibly being outed, as we live in a small, conservative town. And he made one comment that really stood out to me. He said, “Just be careful, because people around here would be less horrified to learn you are having an affair than they would if they learn you and your wife are swinging.” I hadn’t really compared the two because in my mind, there is no comparison. We were in it together. We were open and told each other everything. How can someone even compare that to infidelity? It all seems so backward in my mind.
We’ve since learned that we are more interested in a polyamorous lifestyle than a true swinging lifestyle, as we like to establish relationships before getting physical. Not that there aren’t swingers who fit this mold, but most that we were meeting really had no interest in getting to know us until AFTER things had gotten physical. So, we’re exploring it to see where it takes us. And yet, even though we are in it together, we know that our “friends” and neighbors wouldn’t be supportive. Maybe someday, but not now.
Thank you so much for your contribution, your thoughts and for your complementary words on my hubby’s first guest blog post. He rocks! And so do you. What an interesting comment that your friend made – though I’m not surprised. Unfortunately I think that statement is true for alot of people in alot of areas of the country (and world). I 100% agree with you – that it seems completely backward, and that to me infidelity and honest open multiple relationships are not to be compared. It’s one of the reasons I hate the term “ethical cheating”! What the hell is that? Cheating by the very nature of the definition is not ethical as it requires lying and deceit and breaking agreements with the person you claim to love. If they are referring to “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangements, then use that phrase! And that is an arrangement for open relationships as well. It just means one partner prefers not to hear all of the gory details – BUT there is no lying or deception or agreement breaking.
As far as polyamory versus swinging, remember that polyamory really just means that you are keeping your heart open – you are allowed and have the inclination and desire to fall in love with someone else (in addition to another partner). That can happen at any time. I have often been physical with someone first because I was naturally attracted to them, but I may not develop loving feelings until later. That is still polyamory, not swinging – which is generally speaking recreational sex ONLY (while not allowing emotions to develop). Polyamory is the allowance of love of all kinds, in all relationships at any time.
I agree that not all are supportive of polyamory and open relationships… but we can live our lives as we please, not shy away from talking about it when appropriate to “normalize” it for others, and have a nice day. At some point in the future, I believe it will be more accepted. And in the meantime, I continue to live my life and love as I please. 🙂
Thanks again for your comment!