Like with most other areas of our lives, in dating, the internet has ushered in a new era of endless possibilities.
From same-sex dating websites, ethnic and religion-specific sites, to platforms where you can find people with your specific fetish, the internet created an avenue where like-minded individuals can find themselves with ease and discreetly.
With adult dating websites specifically, you get a relatively safe environment to sample members to assess if their likes, sexual preferences, and kinks match yours before you proceed to meetup. Especially for users with particular fetishes, this system can help significantly simplify the dating process and take all the stress out of it.
How about the taboo? Yes, the internet has got you covered.
Even relatively taboo forms of dating like having an affair have their safe corner of the internet. Sites like Ashley Madison offer a secure platform for currently attached users to discreetly find partners to have extramarital relationships.
Ashley Madison Overview
Even for the uninitiated, the chances are that you have heard about Ashley Madison.
Ashley Madison, the world's premier affair website, broke into common knowledge in 2015 when the site was part of a major scandal. During that event, hackers gained access to the site's database and released personal details of the site's members to the public.
Since then, the company fortified its platform, rebuilt their image, and have since regained their place as the infamous affair headquarters of the internet.
Despite the tumultuous times that came with the hack, Ashley Madison has now received more new signups than the total number of users they had before the hack. Hence, the platform is now fully back to facilitate all of the internet's romantic affairs.
And with a site tagline that reads, “Life is short. Have an affair,” you know they mean business.
Despite Ashley Madison's ultra-specific and relatively restricted target audience, the site has a reported user base of 60 million members as of February 2019. While the bulk of these users are from North America, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Ashley Madison has a surprisingly varied user base with members coming from countries all around the world.
Ashley Madison targets people who are married or in relationships but are looking to have some fun on the side with a discreet affair with someone new. On this platform, there are no judgments, and extramarital relationships are encouraged.
However, the platform is not restricted to people in relationships, as single people can join too and seek out hookups and relationships with attached people or other single people. However, single people may have a harder time meeting attached people as they do not share as much risk.
Ashley Madison Pros
Free to Sign Up and Use
One of the perks of the Ashley Madison platform is that sign up is free. Furthermore, you can browse the site members, view their profiles, and add those you like to a hotlist (up to 100 entries) without having to pay any upfront fee.
This freedom can allow you to acquaint yourself with the site and see a subset of its members before you have to make any financial investments into the platform.
A free account also lets you send winks, a subtle way of showing interest, to other members. You can also choose to send your private showcase key, a feature that gives that user access to your private photos, for free.
However, if you plan to use the site's advanced features like messaging users and using the chat functionality, you have to buy some credits, the in-site currency that powers the platform.
Free for Women
Ashley Madison is entirely free to use for women seeking men. Other user groups like women seeking women, men seeking women, and men seeking men have to use credits when sending first-contact messages, when using instant messaging, or when sending gifts.
This setup helps to balance the female to male ratio on the site and ensures a more enjoyable experience for the site users.
Premier Brand and Massive User Base
When it comes to the world of extramarital dating, Ashley Madison is the undisputed champion. So, why would you settle for second best?
With an extensive user base of 60+ million users, you are sure to find ready members in your area, wherever you live.
Because of the nature of the platform, keeping your privacy and staying discreet is of the utmost importance, and Ashley Madison makes it easy to accomplish. On the website, you can choose to block out any aspect of your profile.
The site will not ask you for your name, and you only have to input necessary information like your location, gender, age, and what you are looking for to get started.
One excellent discreet feature on Ashley Madison is the ability to add a blur to your profile photo. This feature blocks your photo from the public while giving you the ability to share the unedited photo with specific users by sending them your private key.
The platform features an extensive search feature that helps you filter users based on their location, age, looks, weight, preferences, and habits to find your perfect match.
Excellent Customer Service
Compared with many other dating websites, Ashley Madison has one of the most responsive and effective customer service units in the business. Hence, you shouldn't have any issues fixing any concerns or queries.
The Ashley Madison platform also features a unique “affair guarantee” that promises a refund for their three-month subscription if you do not get an affair within that period.
However, this guarantee comes with several terms and conditions, like participating in live chat for at least an hour each month to verify your activeness on the platform.
Ashley Madison Cons
No Free Messages
While you can sign up and search members without a fee, you cannot send any messages, which is the whole point of the platform, without buying credits.
Lengthy Registration Process
For a site that does not require real names or information to get started, Ashley Madison has a surprisingly protracted signup process that can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
Too Many Fake Profiles
With its massive user base, it is no surprise that fake accounts abound on Ashley Madison. Hence, when using the platform, you have to be wary of the many scammers.
Thankfully, the site's customer service is always responsive and is well equipped to handle these accounts once you report them.
Due to the nature of the site as a platform for extramarital affairs, Ashley Madison will always be a target for hackers. Hence, when using the site, you still stand the risk, however small, of damaging information leaks.
To help reduce your risk, avoid using real names, use a throwaway email address, and use a disposable or virtual credit card during signup.
Using the Ashley Madison Platform
The Ashley Madison platform uses a simple and straightforward, albeit lengthy signup process. While the setup does not require excessive personal information, you will still have to fill out a series of general info that includes your height, weight, ethnicity, zodiac sign, what you are looking for, your limits, and so on.
All of this signup information reflects on your profile page and serves as a basis for matching you with search parameters and other users.
Furthermore, during signup, you get to choose your profile picture and whether to leave it exposed or to add a blur or masks to cover the face.
Signing up for an Ashley Madison account can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Sign up is completely free.
For women seeking men, you can immediately proceed to seek out and contacting members as the site is entirely free to use for this category of users. However, other users have to buy credits before they can use these features.
While on a free account, you are unable to send first messages, and you can only send a free wink and hope for a reply.
Once you purchase credits, however, you gain access to the messaging function as well as a live chat feature that lets you keep up with other members on the go. Paying members can also send virtual gifts to other users.
The layout and design of Ashley Madison are some of the simplest and cleanest you will find on any dating website. The platform is intuitive and easy to use, and people of all ages will find it a refreshing break from the sea of overcomplicated dating sites.
Furthermore, the website's aesthetic white and pink color scheme is super easy on the eyes and is a pleasure to use, even over extended periods.
Another great feature of the Ashley Madison platform is its mobile app, available for both iOS and Android. The app is super lightweight, yet it packs all of the features you will find on the desktop version of their website.
The app mirrors the simplicity of the website; its clean and easy to use interface. Furthermore, the app continues the platform's tradition of staying discreet with a completely unsuspicious app icon.
The app is free to download, and you can buy platform credits from within the app by processing the payment through your Google Play or iTunes account.
Ashley Madison offers credit in three tiers: the basic plan that provides 100 credits per month at $0.59 per credit, the classic plan gives you 500 credits per month at $0.34 per credit, while the elite plan offers a massive 1000 credits at a discounted price of $0.29 per credit.
Consequently, the basic plan costs $59 monthly, the classic plan will set you back $169 per month, while the elite plan goes for $289 each month.
Ashley Madison Site Features
A free account on Ashley Madison lets you:
- Create a user account
- View and like other user profiles
- Create a list of favorites with up to 100 users
- Use the discreet photo feature to blur out your profile photo
- Send winks to other users.
Paid features include:
- Sending virtual gifts to other users
- Receive email
- Initiate new chats
- Create personalized messages
- Priority man feature that boosts your profile to the top of search results
- Traveling man feature that lets you message up to 30 people in a new area before your arrival
Ashley Madison vs. the Competition
Several other competing sites like Marital Affairs, Married Secrets, Victoria Milan, that claim to give Ashley Madison a run for their money. However, with over 60 million registered users and growing, Ashley Madison completely dwarfs the competition, and are the undisputed king in this niche.
Furthermore, the platform's sleek user interface, intuitive mobile apps, and their enhanced security features place them head and shoulders above their nearest rival.
Like with most other dating websites in similar niches, the reviews for Ashley Madison are split between users finding success, unsuccessful users, and the complaints about fake profiles and indiscriminate billing.
While another highlights the overbeaten fake accounts and indiscriminate billing issue: