Ashley Madison offers a discreet online service for anyone considering dating outside of their existing relationship. Those wishing to use the site's messaging system (the only way to communicate) must purchase credits to do so. Access is free for women.
The Basics... Married or Single?
Two types of people use Ashley Madison: Those who're married or in a long-term relationship but want to date outside of that relationship. Then there are those who are single, but for whatever reason want to date someone who’s involved with someone else.
- Free guest account lets you do almost everything but communicate
- Pay as you go credits means you only pay for what you use
- Privacy settings let you stay in control and entirely anonymous
Being one of the most well-known extra-marital sites, Ashley Madison is the go to choice for attached people wishing to date outside of their main relationship -- they offer a range of privacy options, allowing people to connect with one-another in relative anonymity.
Women can use the site for free. The credit system means that men only pay for services that they use - there are no recurring monthly fees and the credits will stay active until used. If you select top-up they will re-bill you once you spend existing credits, unless you choose to cancel the service beforehand.
Setting-up a Profile
Joining the site and setting up a picture profile is free for both men and women. Just go to the sign up form on the home page. There are five main sections to the profile, however if you are in a rush, it’s possible to skip some of the less important questions. The sign up asks for minimal information and takes no more than a minute or two to complete.
You can say on your profile whether you are attached or not and the type of relationship you are open to, and whether you are seeking a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship.
Don't forget your preferences
The "Intimate Desires" and "Perfect Match" sections let you express your personal sexual preferences, and the type of person you are seeking.
I would advise completing these sections as it allows others to see why you are there.
Adding a photo to your profile will greatly enhance its appeal and may increase your chances of finding a date. On a lot of dating websites profiles without photos tend to be ignored. However, not surprisingly, many people are cautious about adding photos that may reveal their presence on the site.
Most members avoid this problem as follows:
- Upload a photo in which your face is hidden, or
- Create a private photo showcase
The site allows you to upload images containing nudity or sexual content; however they must be body-shot photos and they have to be approved. This is a good option for those who don’t want to reveal their identity.
Your profile preferences allow you to opt in or out of viewing adult rated images.
In addition, if you want to add a pass-code to your photos, just put the photos into a private showcase (private album). You can then decide which members can see your pictures. When other people view your profile, they can easily request your pass code. You will then be able to grant or deny them access to your pictures as you choose.
There aren’t any matchmaking tools on Ashley Madison as such. What they do have is quick search (located at the top of every page), which allows you to find compatible people anywhere from 20 to 500 miles away. By compatible, I mean it will show you people who "most closely" match the preferences as stated on your profile.
If the quick search isn’t enough, just click the "advanced search" button and you’ll see a list of other options that will allow you to refine your matches further. One handy setting here is the "Status / Login" which allows you to filter-out people who haven’t been active recently.
As well the advanced searching lets you locate people by appearance, ethnicity, languages, and their relationship status. It lets you hide profiles that don't have at least one private or public photo.
Communicating with other members is straightforward and self-explanatory. The site provides a basic messaging system, and live chat for talking directly with members who are online.
There’s also an option to create a list of your favorites. However one thing to keep in mind is that anyone you add to your favorites list will receive a notification email. This is not really ideal if you want to keep your admirer a secret.
Women can always communicate for free. This includes email, instant messaging, sending flirts and so on. Men can only read and reply to messages if they’ve purchased credits. However, on the plus side the credit system does mean you only pay for what you use.
Once you’ve been in contact with someone, you have the ability to add feedback to their profile. The feedback is anonymous, but it is useful as it gives you some idea of that person’s reputation and their activity level on the site.
Ashley Madison now offer something called "Travel Man" and "Travel Woman". This is worth considering if you are planning a trip away and want to schedule some "hanky panky". You enter your destination and the type of women or men you'd like to meet.
You can then send out private invitation messages to any people matching your type and who're near your destination, saving you from searching and messaging, and using-up credits. It'll even tell you beforehand how many you'll reach - you then have the option to go ahead or cancel.
Upgrades & Credits
For men, there are three credit packages on offer, ranging from the basic 100 credits, up to something called "Elite". Credits are "spent" on activities such as emailing or live chat. In addition, men must also pay what’s called an "account activation" fee. This is a one-time fee which will enable your account for the first time.
It goes without saying that billing is discreet so that nobody is alerted to your use of the site.
Those wishing to cancel their account permanently will find there are two choices: either deactivation or full delete.
Those who opt for the full delete (instead of the regular deactivation) will have their entire history removed from the site including messages and any personally identifiable information. That even includes messages delivered to other members' inboxes.
Whether you agree with the ethics of Ashley Madison or not, one thing is clear. They've established that there is a strong demand for extra-marital dating for a variety of reasons.
According to available figures, there are around 1.3 million active on the site, with a few thousand more joining each month.
Not surprisingly, Ashley Madison has had a lot of criticism from various organizations from pro-marriage groups to religious bodies. But ultimately, this negative publicity only seems to have made them stronger. It's also enhanced people’s awareness of the site and those like it.
If you've thought it through and have decided you want to date outside of marriage or a long-term relationship for whatever reason, Ashley Madison does let you do that in a relatively safe and controlled way.
While women can use most things for free, men should keep in mind that the credit system can work out expensive, especially if you’re using the messenger frequently.