|Ashley Madison says it’s been adding 17,000 new members a day since the beginning of the pandemic.
But cheating hearts beware — It’s also a lot harder to hide an affair during a lockdown.
AshleyMadison.com was launched in 2001 by Toronto native Noel Biderman, a former attorney, sports agent and “self-described happily married father of two,” according to a 2009 profile in the Los Angeles Times. The site’s name comes from two popular names for female babies at the time.
It is, essentially, an online dating service with an interface similar to OkCupid or Match.com, but geared toward people seeking affairs – either with other married individuals or single people.
Biderman has often been matter-of-fact about his site. “Some people say it promotes promiscuity,” he told the Times. “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.”
Affairs aside, online dating for single individuals has seen a newfound surge in virtual interest during the pandemic. Dating apps like Hinge, Tinder and Bumble have seen users conduct virtual dates, using technology to maintain a dating life while self-isolating.
“I do think it’s the perfect time to get online, because we don’t lose our desire to connect,” Match’s chief dating coach Rachel DeAlto told PEOPLE about dating during the pandemic. “Love doesn’t go away, or that desire for companionship.”
Added DeAlto: “When we’re so disconnected face to face, we have to replicate that in some sort of way to prevent us from feeling the effects of loneliness.”