It’s true – and the evidence is right before us. This week has seen another massive data breach, where the personal details of millions who signed up to a sex hook-up website have been exposed. The passwords and email addresses of 412 million accounts have been leaked, after AdultFriendFinder and its sister sites have been hacked.
The news caused me to raise an eyebrow. And not because I think being on that kind of site makes this a case of fair do’s. That argument belongs in the same camp as not wearing short skirts if you want to avoid sexual assault, or not owning anything if you don’t want to get robbed.
When Ashley Madison, the extra-, the details of millions of people who were cheating or planning to cheat on their spouses were leaked.
Reputations were tarnished, marriages broken up. All in all, things got pretty sticky for the people on that list. So you’d think anyone considering having an affair would have learned from the entire mess and thought better of signing up for a website like AdultFriendFinder, which describes itself as « one of the world’s largest sex hook-up » sites.
No so. And although the leak appears to cover those who signed up to use its services over the past 20 years – the site claims to have 40 million active users.
If you take out the adrenaline of deleting secret texts and sneaking around, then you’ve stripped away so much of what makes cheating sexy
Technology has altered beyond recognition in the last two decades. But regardless of the risk (and in the age of data hacks, it’s a very real one) for some reason we still seem unable to resist the urge to cheat. It’s just the means that are different.
But why, given that it’s the second time a major data breach has taken place on this type of site, would anyone endanger their marriage by using one?
Well, we all know that doing something dangerous can be intoxicating, why else would people throw themselves out of planes, or ski down mountains? An affair is no different from any other high octane experience. It’s exciting because it’s thrilling and wrong, but also because it’s dangerous.
Maybe the reason that people keep going back to these sites, is that they crave the danger of getting caught? Maybe hacking is now actually part of the appeal – the 21st century equivalent of leaving lipstick on your collar.
So if you’re hoping to bullet-proof your relationship, what’s the answer? Well perhaps it’s not just the phrases we should be pinching from the French. Maybe we should also be copying their attitudes towards fidelity.
During my five years in an open relationship, I barely slept with or dated anyone other than my partner despite the fact that I was actively encouraged to
Supposedly, the French have a tradition called ‘un cinq a sept’. That roughly translates (literally, though not culturally) as the idea that what happens between the hours of 5-7pm, does not touch a marriage. It’s a time of discretion, that a person – even a married person – is not expected to account for.
I’m getting married in July. The idea of my husband visiting someone else (in my mind she’s 40, whippet thin and wears long strings of pearls) makes me intensely sad. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m not enough for him. But I also don’t want to live in a fantasy – and the truth is, people do cheat, and as AdultFriendFinder shows, they cheat in spite of the danger of getting caught.
However present the threat of a data leak, these sites have an enduring popularity. Perhaps if we take our heads out of the sand and accept the possibility of it happening, we actually take away some of the compulsion. If the danger is what makes it so thrilling, then turning affairs into something approaching acceptable takes away some of the rush.
If the married men and women who snuck onto AdultFriendFinder while their partner was is the shower had been welcome to do so on the family computer in the middle of the living room, would they have even bothered at all?