Have an affair. That’s the advice of Noel Biderman, the 37-year-old founder and chief executive of Ashley Madison, a dating site geared towards discreet relationships… ahem, married people.
I learned about Noel and “Ashley” this weekend by reading Meghan Daum’s column in the Los Angeles Times. I found the overall topic to be fascinating but thought it was especially telling how finances play into the demand for the Ashley Madison service. Daum writes:
When I talked to him after the broadcast, Biderman, whose mild-mannered comportment belies the seediness of his enterprise, explained that in hard economic times, a lot of people who’ve been planning a divorce suddenly cannot afford one. The money-saving solution? Seek carnal comfort in others. He also made an analogy between his extramarital dating service and handing out condoms to teens.
“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.”
It’s no wonder then that MarketWatch just reported this week about how there are fewer divorces in a bad economy:
The recession and economic turmoil is creating a new class of casualties: married couples who can’t afford to get divorced. In these tough times, many people are finding it’s cheaper to stay together, even when they can’t stand each other…
Circuit courts across the country report downturns in the number of divorce and separation filings. Cook County’s Circuit Court in Chicago saw a 5% decrease in filings — about 600 cases — in the first three quarters of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007. Similar drops have been reported in other cities across the country.
Does this mean more people will spend money on marriage counseling? Or as Daum wonders, will it just force divorce lawyers to lower their fees?
Regardless, this news makes me feel a bit vindicated since my partnership hasn’t received any economic benefit from the federal government in the last six years. It’s kind of poetic justice that a few heteros have to be stuck in bad marriages… even if it means that Ashley Madison gets a boost from the current financial meltdown.
Photo credit: stock.xchng.