Why are (SO MANY) married men on dating sites?
Since time immemorial, men have been known to shirk from long-term romantic commitments for the fear of having their sexual freedom restricted. The idea that men cannot stay faithful in relationships has pitted women who seek security in relationships against men who want to “sow” their proverbial “oats” before settling down. Although there are plenty of testimonials from happily monogamous men, finding married men masquerading as single on dating sites is not new. Not so long ago was the Ashley Madison fiasco, which laid bare the maxim that men aren’t made for monogamy.
Ashley Madison is a Canadian membership-based hook-up site made especially for married men (and women) who seek relationships of a “discreet” nature. The site guarantees complete privacy for members who can chat with others looking to having an affair. However, in 2015, Ashley Madison suffered a colossal data breach where hackers exposed details of millions of married members on the site.
Fast forward to 2019, the site is thriving despite the data breach. As per an Ernst & Young report, 14,500 new members joined the dating site every day in 2018! Ashley Madison is now 60 million strong. The numbers prove that given the power of privacy, people aren’t averse to seeking pleasure outside marriage. The incident has not quite dulled the site’s sheen.
Dating apps are also crawling with married men looking for affairs. According to the GlobalWebIndex, men outnumber women on Tinder, and most are in relationships.
Outwardly, it may seem like sex is the only reason married men are on dating sites. And that’s not entirely untrue. Sex outside marriage is what many men seek through their online escapades.
“My wife is always complaining of work-related and domestic stress. So sex is not the first thing on her mind. That’s why I hooked up with a few women I met online. I’m not ashamed of it. I want to have my needs met,” said a married Tinder user on grounds of anonymity.
But often, men do trawl dating sites for attention. Says a married man on Quora: “Some guys just want confirmation that they’re still desirable. It doesn’t mean much when your wife says it because that can be easily concluded a multiple of reasons why she would. But when a stranger says it, give you attention, or shows interest, it’s a very different impact.”
Then there’s the pure old dopamine rush. A Tinder match can trigger the reward system in the brain, making men seek thrills on dating sites. “I get butterflies in my stomach when a woman matches with me. Mainly because it happens rarely. Even if it fizzles out later, the thought that a woman considered me is a big turn on,” says someone from Mumbai who has been married for four years.
Men also indulge in something known as a milestone-age affair. According to findings presented in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, men can also cheat when they approach an age milestone. They seek affairs when they reach ages 29, 39, 49 or 59. “I remember being 29 and wondering what I am doing with my life. So I remember going through Hinge looking for an escape,” said another user who is in a relationship.
“I use dating sites not because I want to leave, but because I want to stay. I am happy with my wife but certain things are lacking, like the initial chemistry. And since I keep things transparent with the women I meet on these sites, the affairs rarely last more than a month. And in turn, I can focus on the other aspects of my marriage more,” said a Reddit user.
Another 62-year-old Quora member raved about Ashley Madison and said he used the service because keeping a mistress would be expensive: “In two years, I had email conversations with 16 different women. I had sex with three. The first affair lasted about two months, the second about six months, and the third is still going on. My girlfriend and I just celebrated our second anniversary. She is also married, and we enjoy talking about our spouses. We intend to continue this arrangement indefinitely.”
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