CEO of affair website addresses Chicago neighborhood rankings

June 18, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

Where do cheaters live in Chicago?

Apparently, Lincoln Park, according to AshleyMadison.com, the extramarital dating site that has the slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair."

The site has been around for 10 years and counts over nine million members in the U.S.

"Before Ashley Madison, affairs were happening. I didn't invent that," said CEO Noel Biderman.

In fact, he was engaged (and is now married) when he came up with the idea to connect unhappily married men and women to a virtual place where they could seek out an affair with likeminded people and be honest yet discreet about it and hopefully not get caught in the process.

"I'm not doing this because my motivation in life is to destroy marriages and families," he said. "I actually believe in my heart of hearts that I'm providing a societal net win here as well as obviously an economic monster machine that's become one of the successful dating companies in the world."

Based on per capita membership using zip codes in the Chicago area of more than 210,000 people, the site on Monday released its list of the top cheating neighborhoods in Chicago:

1. Lincoln Park

2. The Loop

3. Bucktown

4. Gold Coast

5. Armour Square

6. Hyde Park

7. Beverly

Rounding out the top 10 are the suburbs of Arlington Heights, Oak Park and Naperville.

Windy City members spend 60 percent more time – an average of 44 minutes – on the site seeking out affairs compared to the national average of 28 minutes, according to the site.

In Chicago, 89 percent of the site's male members earn more than the average income compared to the nationwide figure. Sixteen percent reported making more than $500,000, Biderman said.

That shows high net worth, and affluence and affairs are closely related, he said. "There's a reason why politicians and celebrities and entertainers have affairs. Part of it is they're removed from their families all the time for work. Another part of it is the kind of personality types that get into those professions - they are people who are risk takers," he said, adding that businessmen also follow that pattern too.

He points to that theory as to why the Loop, which has high property values and is home to wealthy professionals, ranked second in membership.

The site is roughly 70 percent men and 30 percent female overall, and Chicago's membership in neighborhoods mirror that.

So, what exactly are people who sign up for the online service looking for?

For men, they sign up on the site after being married for three or four years at a time when their wives are pregnant or they had the first child, or they're bored after 18 to 20 years of marriage and don't want a divorce, he said. He estimates 35 percent of men are in the 30-something range and the rest in their 40s and 50s with some in their 60s.

They turn to the site because they're simply after sex.

"They're waking up in what they view is a sexless marriage, meaning the desire, the amount, the frequency of sex they desire isn't being matched by their partner and they don't want a life of celibacy," Biderman said.

With strollers rolling down the sidewalks and high home prices, Lincoln Park – the top cheating neighborhood - illustrates the demographic of a 30-something young professional man looking for his first affair.

"Where is a man likely to have a first affair now? On the internet versus the workplace. They're not going to risk their career, they're just not," he said.

For women, they log on because they miss being chased. "Married women come to an affair because unlike right now, the happiest time in their lives was when they were being pursued, they were put on a pedestal. They got flowers, date night, told they were beautiful, paid attention when they changed their appearance," he said. "Now, none of happens. And they're actually lonely within their own relationship, in their marriage and that feels twice as bad."

The ladies tend to be 10 years into a marriage before they look to the site, he said. Lately, he's noticed more women who are married for two years or less and without kids in their late 20s turning to this social network for information gathering and to get a sympathetic ear on marriage woes. He says the latter only makes up 10 to 15 percent of female members with the rest in their 30s and 40s.

There's also singles on the site who want to meet married men and women. For example, of the male members about 10 percent are single. Of women, 20 percent are single.

Male members in Chicago, he said, have an average of six physical encounters. Most affairs are short term, lasting five months for women and three months for men, he said.

The site charges $49 for 100 credits used to communicate. It takes five credits to connect to another member.

lvivanco@tribune.com

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