You want to have an affair. You haven't even been married long. Wait a sec, are you married or just roommates? You check and yep, your marriage license is in your nightstand drawer. The wedding video that cost $800 is covered with dust. No question -- you've made a lifelong commitment.
But your current nights certainly give a good impression of being roomies. There's even a posted schedule of whose turn it is to take out garbage and shop for groceries. Truth be told, you've been contemplating the idea of an affair for a long time and not because you're having a mid-life crisis, envisioning a red sports car in your future.
No, this isn't about low self-esteem. Quite the opposite. You deserve more. You deserve someone who understands, connects, responds -- and "gets" you on a deep level.
You've been testing the waters lately, making more intense eye contact with attractive strangers. When they hold your gaze, you've felt that elusive thrill from your past. But your thoughts never go beyond this. Until today.
Today a pop-up window appeared for Ashley Madison. Their slogan -- "Monogamy is monotony!" Clever. Maybe that's a sign? Visions of hang-up phone calls, excuses to get milk (when it's not even your turn!) and seedy motel rooms run through your head. You visit the website and there are many photographs. These people do not look underhanded, sleazy or desperate. They look like...you.
They talk of voids. "Mistakes, regrets and soul-searching" are other buzzwords. Everyone's profile states they don't want to change their current marital situation. They don't want to hurt their lifelong partner or upset the family's applecart. They just want to supplement their life. And above all, they want discretion.
You are attracted to several of the profiles, but there's no way to contact them (even to innocently chat) without making a profile of your own. You could easily do this. You have that private email account. And amazingly enough, you have a nice photograph of just you. You wouldn't even have to crop out someone else's arm around you. You decide to do it. It's just a couple hundred words describing your likes and dislikes, no big deal.
You're careful to phrase things so people understand you haven't done this before. You're not a player. You're just curious about what's "out there." When you're done, you preview it and feel confident you'll get lots of views and responses. You hesitate just for a moment before you click "Publish" but then do it very matter-of-factly. After all, you want to have an affair. Don't you?
Later, your spouse is particularly upsetting which justifies your actions. Not listening to anything you say, but instead thinking up the next clever remark to interject while you're still speaking. You're tired of being talked over and around, so when you finally go to bed, you're grateful there's no talking at all. Carefully staying on your side of the bed, you don't brush skin. Even accidental cuddling would elicit guilt.
You can't sleep. Your new online mailbox is all you think about. In the den, the monitor glows eerily and after remembering your password, you're rewarded (and flattered!) to find 6 new emails. Several of them try to be funny. They try too hard. One goes on and on, obviously totally self-absorbed. Who does that remind you of? One talks about extreme guilt, which you don't want to be reminded of. Two of them gush over your photo and tell you they'd sleep with you tomorrow.
But really if this was just about sex, you could find that anywhere. After all, you're attractive. Hell, there'd be zero risk of getting caught if it was just the physical release you were after. You can do that for yourself. And God knows, lately you have. A lot.
No, you're trying to find that missing connection. You hate the term 'soulmate' but admit it fits here. The chemistry must be there, yes, but you're seeking more. You write back to all six individuals. You ask questions. What brought them here? What are they looking for? What's wrong with their marriages? You don't ask anything you wouldn't answer yourself.
You tell everyone to write back and confess something surprising, even shocking. You spend the next twenty minutes deleting emails, emptying recycle bins, erasing history as your other half sleeps in the next room. This is kind of daring, kind of thrilling and definitely an adventure into the unknown.
The next morning you can't look your spouse in the eye, but interestingly, there's no notice taken of that. Everything proceeds as usual and you're off to work. In your office lobby, you look around and wonder how many people are having secret affairs? From the number of hits on that website, you'd venture 1 in 3 people do this.
Could it be her? Maybe him? Oh! You bet it's those two over by the ATM machine. Maybe that one is even one of your actual responders... after all, the photo was faraway and blurry. You feel giddy. Your day flies by. You don't dare check email from work because you've heard employers have ways of tracking these things. So you race home to log on and... Jackpot!
Nine new responses and four from the first batch have already written back. As per your request for surprising tidbits, there are some real shockers revealed. Someone is a physician who regularly sleeps with patients. Someone else is happily married and just looking to add a threesome to their routine and someone else has a gambling problem and just lost the house. Interesting how that one original respondent who was so cocky and self-assured hasn't sent a photograph or admitted anything astonishing. All the rest are okay, but it's those voids in that particular email that's most intriguing. You ignore the others and pursue the individual who represents a challenge.
Two weeks pass and you're wild with desire by the mystery profile. The witty flirtations have been like nothing you've experienced, well at least not since you first got married. This person truly "gets" you, which blows your mind because you're so complicated. Sometimes you don't even "get" yourself! And after all this time, you haven't even seen a photograph, but this doesn't matter because you're officially obsessed. You can't believe your spouse hasn't noticed changes.
Computer time increases three-fold. You're simultaneously jumpy, edgy, and euphoric. You've shopped for the perfect meeting outfit. There's talk of an out-of-the-way place for cocktails but both people know that's just a formality. Until you seduce one another physically, mirroring what's already occurred emotionally online.
Today's email is especially adorable and funny. An agreement has been made that when you meet, the long awaited photograph will finally be placed in your hand! Kinda ironic because when that happens, you won't need a photograph. The email also promises you'll be told what quality about you was initially the most attractive. How fun!
You write back that you can't wait for this to happen. You delete that because it makes you sound needy. Instead you casually write back "perhaps our paths will cross one day, when we're least expecting it." You add that you'll anticipate a photograph and the compliment when that time comes.
You log off the computer with a yearning sigh. You walk from the den into the next room where you literally bump into your spouse. As you look up into wistful eyes, a photograph is gently slipped into your hand. Your spouse softly whispers, "It was your honesty that originally attracted me the most."