Dear Dan: Please do a public-service announcement about the Ashley Madison hack, and request that NO ONE look up information on ANYONE other than their own spouse. I’m a former AM user. I’ve been married to my wife for 20 years. We met when we were both 20 years old. Seven years ago, I made a selfish decision to have an affair, and five years ago, my wife found out. She hated me for a while, but we worked things out. I have been faithful since then, and our marriage is better than ever. Since my wife already knows everything, I have no worries about her finding out. But what about every other person I know? It is mortifying to think about my colleagues or my wife’s family poring through my profile information. I’m going to assume the best — most people have the common decency not to snoop into their neighbors’ bedroom habits — but it would be great if you could ask people to respect other people’s privacy.
— Really Enraged Guy Requesting Everyone’s Tactful Silence
Dear REGRETS: I’m happy to back you up, REGRETS, but I don’t share your faith in humanity. Most people are only too delighted to snoop into their neighbors’ bedroom habits — particularly when doing so induces feelings of moral superiority. And I like to think the kind of puritanical busybodies who would go looking for names in the Ashley Madison dump are unlikely to be readers of mine, so they wouldn’t see my Ashley Madison PSA anyway.
But I have to disagree with your suggestion that people should look for their spouses’ names in the AM data. If someone in a shitty, high-conflict marriage needs an excuse to get out — because no-fault divorce isn’t good enough for them — okay, sure, that person might wanna search for their spouse’s name. But people who are in loving, functional, lowconflict, happy-ish marriages might want to think twice. Finding out that your spouse cheated — or fantasized about cheating — is impossible to unknow, and it’s something many people can’t get over. Caveat coniunx.
Dear Dan: I’m one of those morons who had an Ashley Madison account. But for me, and probably for many others, AM has been a strong antidote to the urge to cheat. Spending some time on AM taught me the following: (1) I’m nothing special — there are millions of other men looking for the same thing, and most of them are younger and better-looking. (2) The women on AM are nothing special — the few who even bother chatting with you are often looking for money, and your wife starts looking damn good by comparison. (3) The whole thing is basically a scam to separate horny middle-aged guys from our wallets. And it doesn’t even have the relatively honest sleaze of a strip club.
— Ashley Madison Mark
Dear AMM: There’s no way to tell the difference between an Ashley Madison member who came to his (or her) senses before cheating, like AMM here, and a member who fucked a dozen other people — or, for that matter, a member who had a good reason for being on the site…
Dear Dan: I’m an Ashley Madison user in an open relationship with a bi woman. I can assure you that a large number of AM users — hundreds of thousands — are also in open relationships. The hackers made no effort to distinguish between adulterers and people in consensual, honest relationships. They are smearing thousands of people as adulterers who are much more honest in their relationships than the average person.
— Healthy Openness Not Egregious Sexual Trysts
Dear HONEST: The hackers also made no effort to protect Ashley Madison members living in countries where adultery is punishable by death. Along with all the cheaters, wannabe cheaters, and people in honest open relationships, HONEST, the hackers exposed hundreds of people living in Saudi Arabia — some of them gay. Do the people out there saying AM members are getting what they deserve realize that some are going to get their heads cut off?