Chicago adulterers flock to cheaters site this week

February 14, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

If Valentine's Day isn't shaping up to be an affair to remember, you can always, well, have an affair to remember.

More than 175,000 Chicagoans are members of Ashley Madison, a controversial dating Web site that caters to people in relationships interested in adultery. The service boasts more than 12.6 million members.

The site experiences some of its highest membership bumps this week because Feb. 13 is Mistress Day (when cheaters indulge their mistresses because they are busy with their significant others on Valentine's Day) and Feb. 15 is when some people look elsewhere for love because their Valentine's Day was lackluster, Ashley Madison spokeswoman Steph Davidson said.

RELATED: CHICAGO'S POLYAMOUROUS COMMUNITY DITCHES MONOGAMY FOR HONESTY.

The Toronto-based service, which offers free sign-ups but charges to exchange messages, has been under fire since it began ten years ago. In 2009, an ad for the site was not allowed in the Super Bowl. Last year, the site advertised with images of presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who has publicly admitted to an extramarital affair.

Locally, 336 Chicagolanders signed up for the service on Monday, an increase of 180 percent compared to a typical day, Davidson said. About two in three Ashley Madison users from Chicago are men.

Davidson said she expects Wednesday to yield an even bigger membership bump: 300 percent.

"These primarily [are] people who had a Valentine's Day filled with unmet expectations and have made the determination that they need to seek emotional and/or sexual fulfillment elsewhere," Davison said in an e-mail to RedEye.

But hopeless romantics need not fret. Valentine's Day is one of the site's lowest registration days of the year. The Chicago area is on track to see 92 sign-ups today, Davidson said.

tswartz@tribune.com | @tracyswartz

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