Ashley Madison Reports 30 million Cheating Spouses during COVID-19

COVID-19 has turned our worlds upside down, forcing us into remote work situations and extended home stays with spouses, roommates, or in complete solitude. Under these circumstances, it could be presumed that individuals in committed relationships might be less inclined to seek extramarital engagements. This presumption, however, is flawed. Ashley Madison's newest report highlights that, notwithstanding the close proximity to their spouses, the appeal of having an affair intensified for many, with the platform's user base expanding to an unprecedented 30 million.

cheating spouses ashley madison

Well, you thought wrong.

According to latest Ashley Madison’s report, although many members were quarantined with their spouses, the urge to cheat was higher than ever – with a record-breaking users of 30 million cheating spouses.

  • Ashley Madison experienced a surge in member registrations during the pandemic. See the numbers here
  • Spouses cheat virtually because of lack of sex with their partner. Read more findings from the Love on Lockdown Report
  • Affair dating plays a big role in marriage during quarantine
  • Exclusive interview with Ashley Madison's Chief Strategy Officer, Mr. Paul Keable. See full interview here
  • Affair dating is not going away anytime soon. Read our thoughts about the Future of Affair Dating

The Surge of Ashley Madison Members Amidst the Pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashley Madison's membership base did not experience a decrease of new member signups. In fact, new registrations for the calendar year 2020 (height of the pandemic totalled 5,594,798 – averaging over 450,000 new active, genuine members monthly. And, the ratio of male and female signups, on average is almost 1 is to 1. And since January 2021, the dating site is seeing another increase of over 600,000 monthly new member signups – the highest since 2015. With this newly registered members, the total number of Ashley Madison's active members are now over 70 million worldwide

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Now, this member registration surge came as a surprise, as most couples are cooped up at home with their husbands and wives. One might think that it would be hard to have an extramarital affair. Moreover, the chances of experiencing guilt and remorse should be higher.

Because of this, Ashley Madison conducted a study with series of anonymous member surveys that included several topics including sex, increased stress, divorce, dating during a pandemic, and the future of marriage and monogamy – to navigate marriage and infidelity through a pandemic.

Let’s find out the findings below!

Ashley Madison Survey Findings: Why Spouses Cheat

The Ashley Madison survey revealed several key findings about marital turmoil and cheating behavior amidst a global pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at each one below.

#1 More Sex or No Sex?

more sex or no sex

With nothing else to do and no one else to see, one would think that married people would be having a lot more sex than they usually did before the pandemic. Survey data said that 53% of Ashley Madison members survey responders spent more time with their spouse than ever before lockdown.

However, 58% of the same pool said that their spouse has not initiated any sort of sexual intimacy during the lockdown. A whooping 75% are having less sex or NO sex at all with their spouse.

41% of responders claimed that being with their spouse too much has decreased their attraction, which made them essentially give up on reviving their sexual intimacy.

With little to no sex, most of these members took matters into their own hands in terms of masturbating and engaging with explicit adult chats online. Sex is important in marriage – and when it’s unattainable, no doubt these Ashley Madison members try to find a workaround.

#2 Infidelity as mood booster

During the height of the lockdown, married people reported having the feelings of boredom (49%), isolation and loneliness (30%), frustration and anger (29%), worry and fear (24%), and anxiety and overwhelm (24%). 

These people said that infidelity during a pandemic was a mood booster. 84% of responders believed that extramarital affairs was a reliable form of self-care – it was something they looked forward to and was a great way to dis-

mood booster infidelity

tract themselves over the negative things that were happening around them.

#3 The desire and ability to cheat is stimulated by the pandemic restrictions

As mentioned earlier, one would think that the lockdown would make cheaters better husbands or wives – as cheating under the roof of their own home would make them feel guilty. Yet, survey data shows otherwise. The thrill of being discreet and not being caught fuel these daters.

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Lockdown has not put an end to having extramarital affairs as modern technology has made it possible for cheaters to pursue their relationships outside marriage. Texting, phone calls, and video chats have replaced methods of physical affair dating. 

Old excuses such as, “I’m working late tonight,” or “I have a business trip this weekend” have been replaced with cover ups such as, “I’m doing work” (38%), and “I’m going on a walk/bike ride” (10%). Most affairs have gone virtual, yet still, many married Ashley Madison users still meet their affair partner in person – especially if they have been dating for quite long already.

Interview with Ashley Madison

We had a chance to get an exclusive interview with Ashley Madison's Chief Strategy Officer, Mr. Paul Keable about the impact of Ashley Madison to affair daters during the pandemic, plus his thoughts about the future of the dating site. Read our full interview below.

DatingScout: Did you expect the surge of new member registrations during the global pandemic? What were your initial expectations regarding member activity once the pandemic started?

Paul Keable: I would love to say that we knew that our membership would explode due to the pandemic, but we were not that prescient. That said, as we saw the daily numbers rise by 30% to more than 20,000 new members joining a day, we could see the impact the pandemic and the various lockdowns we’re having on marriages around the world. The trend is very similar to what we see at the beginning of each year; after spending extra time with your spouse over the holidays cracks in relationships are often exposed leading to infidelity for many people. The pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of monogamy to millions of people around the world, and our community of like-minded people is growing because of this.

DatingScout: With over 30 million new users, did you notice any differences with member activity /interaction pre-pandemic? Can you give examples?

Paul Keable: In fact, we have had more than 72 million members’ join Ashley Madison since our launch in 2002. While each member’s experience is unique to them, there is a universal aspect to what drives people to an adulterous lifestyle – an unhappy bedroom, especially for female members. That trend has continued throughout the pandemic, and we don’t foresee it changing any time soon.

DatingScout: We read your Love on Lockdown report – most of the findings seemed to direct to the point that the responders are not happy and fulfilled with their marriage. In your opinion, why do you think they stay married and have an affair instead of filing for a divorce?

Paul Keable: What most people misunderstand about infidelity is how the cheating spouse feels about their partner. For a significant portion of our membership, they very much love their spouse and family situation, but they are missing a key element (often intimate in nature) that prevents them from having a completely happy life. For these members, they’re not looking for a divorce – they’re looking to fill that missing element while maintaining their primary relationship.

DatingScout: Do you think that affairs can help solve marriage turmoil in the future? What good may come out from an affair that will benefit both the husband and the wife?

Paul Keable: Interestingly we hear from our membership consistently that an affair helps them become better mothers, lovers and partners because the stress of having an unsatisfactory love-life has been solved through their affairs, allowing them to enjoy all the other aspects of their primary relationship.

DatingScout: Any more features you have in store for Ashley Madison members in the future that can help them navigate affair dating after the pandemic?

Paul Keable: We are constantly looking at ways to improve our members ability to connect and communicate with one another discreetly. We expect to see new features and options being offered to members in the near future – stay tuned!

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The Future of Affair Dating

It’s safe to say that the global COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down the extramarital affairs of Ashley Madison members. The biggest takeaway of 65% of these survey respondents is that they are going to be more selective with who they go on in-person affair dates with. Plus, 56% are likely to get creative with socially-distanced date ideas until the whole population has been vaccinated or if medical researches find a cure. 

So these Ashley Madison affair daters are not looking to stop cheating anytime soon. If there’s one thing that all these survey respondents learned during the global pandemic is that their spouse really isn’t always the one or the only person they need when to have a fulfilling life emotionally, mentally, and physically Author Chris Pleines
Chris Pleines
Founder of Datingscout and Author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies"
Chris founded Datingscout 15 years ago, and today he is one of the leading Online Dating Experts. He is the author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies" and the author of the Internet's largest online dating study analyzing 20 Million Profile Pictures with artificial intelligence. Chris Pleines holds a master degree in media science and appeared in numerous television interviews and publications to give expert advice as well as tips about online dating.
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