Last week I was reading the Craigslist personals. MW4W. MW4M. W4W. M4M. MW4MW. And so on. I wasn’t looking for a hookup or anything; I am just weirdly interested in other folks’ sex lives. (Like, who isn’t a voyeur?) If you haven’t read the Craigslist personals, I recommend it.
As you might guess, the Craigslist personals are full of people looking to screw around. When the ad starts with something like “TOTAL DISCRETION GUARANTEED,” you can be pretty certain someone is screwing around. Aside from gay dudes looking for other gay dudes, it’s mostly cheating. So much cheating.
The abundance of people looking to screw around made me think about why people want to screw around in the first place.
Then yesterday, as if the universe heard me, I got an email from Ashley Madison about a new survey set to release today.
I know, I know; Another day, another Ashley Madison survey. It’s like a train wreck — I just can’t look away.
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The survey was about cheating.
I know, you didn’t see that coming. Specifically, the survey was about the reasons people cheat.
Alas, here is the data:
What are folks looking for?
Why do folks like to have affairs in the first place?
Oh, your sexual needs were met IN AN AFFAIR? You don’t say?
The 5 Reasons (Most) People* Cheat Are:
*dudes on Ashley Madison
I don’t think any of us really needed Ashley Madison to ask their purveyors why they cheat — the answers will never be surprising. It all boils down to what relationships do to us chemically. Those endorphins are a real beast. They are why we shop, why we do drugs, why we cheat. The most direct route to the high will be the one many (if not most) folks choose.
I’ve lost a lot of sleep over whether or not my husband would cheat on me. Culturally, we’ve been made to believe it’s par for the course; why wouldn't I lie awake worrying about it? We’ve read cheater stats that range from 30-70% — not hopeful numbers for anyone, certainly not a woman caring for the family while her husband travels for work, and who, after the birth of six kids, looks nothing like her former self. Not hopeful at all.
I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve Googled things like “do husbands who travel for work cheat more” to prepare for the worst and “can marriages survive infidelity” to determine how likely it is my marriage would thrive after my husband’s affair.
I should say that my husband has not had an affair.
Or maybe he has?
But probably not.
Not because he hasn’t had the chance. He’s gone three days a week. He could be screwing half of the South San Francisco Bay. But as far as I know, he’s not. And trust is the thing we’ve got.
Trust is the thing you’ve got. If your partner is going to fuck around, they are going to fuck around. Not because of you, but because of them. Not because you are broken, but because they don’t value honesty — or they value their own gratification more.
Whether your partner screws your neighbor, or someone they met at work, or someone they actively sought out on Ashley Madison or Craigslist, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know that none of that bullshit is about you.