"He stole my idea," she claimed. "I was going to start a service for people who wanted to have affairs."
My new lawyer friend wouldn't take her case. In his legal opinion, people having affairs is an age-old pursuit that can't be copyrighted.
Noel Biderman, the founder and CEO of Ashley Madison, agrees that cheating is a fact of life and defends his site by saying it doesn't create promiscuous behavior, just helps keep it honest.
"Some people say it promotes promiscuity," he said. "But if you don't do it, you get behavior that's way more harmful to society. Infidelity has been around a lot longer than Ashley Madison."
He believes that hearing about the service in a commercial is not going to persuade anyone to have an affair. "It's a decision they've come to already. All I'm saying is, don't do it in the workplace where it could result in someone losing their job, don't go to a singles dating service and lie about your status, don't hire a prostitute. Given that affairs are going to happen no matter what, maybe we should see Ashley Madison as a safe alternative." Jan 10, 09 LA Times
The company is having a little difficulty in the marketing department. Their slogan, "Life is short, have an affair" is obviously incendiary, and their TV ads, which depict racy trysts or unbearable marriages, have been banned by many stations. Still, the website boasts 3.5 million subscribers, so there's obviously consumer demand out there.
I'm not in favor of extramarital affairs of any kind, but I find this approach especially yucky. It's so premeditated. Maybe I'm naive, but I like to think that people who have affairs do so because they slip up, or they're irresistibly drawn to a specific person - not that they've rationally decided the time has come to systematically sleep around.
But what do you think? Are there some marriages that are just so awful that cheating is justified?