Brandy knew that she didn’t want to have anything to do with her marriage anymore.

She got married at a fairly younger age than most people would – age 20. She left the small town in Georgia that she grew up in and signed up for the Air Force. She was recruited for tours in Germany and various placements around the country. After she gave birth to her second child, she was diagnosed with having bipolar disorder. And as a result, she had to retire from the military at just 30 years old.

“We had to move home,” says Brandy, “My husband really resented that, and we were already on the road to divorce. Our sex life was never very good, and he was uncomfortable talking about [sex] or doing it.”

That is when Brandy decided to turn to the Ashley Madison website. It’s a Canada-based dating site that allows people to engage in shady affairs and romances. She thought that an affair would make her happier. She thought that getting into an affair would help boost her own sexual satisfaction. She ultimately thought that getting into an affair would help save her family.

Brandy decided to seek out men in nearby towns instead of the town that she actually lived in. She also insisted on using her middle name as her online name. She would meet with a lot of these guys in hotels and they would take turns paying for the rooms. She would only ever stay a few hours though. She made it a point to never stay the night.

An assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University, Alicia Walker, Ph.D., authored a recent study that found that a lot of the women who use Ashley Madison actually shared similar motivations as Brandy. For Walker’s research which was published in the Journal of Sexuality and culture, she surveyed people who had had affairs through the Ashley Madison site. She found that women actually reported increased overall happiness and satisfaction than cheating men.

And it’s true that the affairs that Brandy went through did make her happy… albeit, temporarily. Her affairs allowed her to prolong her marriage even more – and that was her whole point at the start. She was getting the sexual satisfaction that she was searching for. Brandy says that she may have had five different affairs over the course of two years that gave her much satisfaction.

“Females having affairs are more likely to be happy than men,” says Walker. “It’s the ‘monogamy malaise.’ Existing research shows the longer women are in a sexual relationship, the more their desire drops over time, and they become less and less interested in having sex with their primary partner. However, if they take on a new partner, their sexual desire returns to its previous high level.”

A girl named Jean also happened to be unhappy in her relationship that was already three-years-old. She was with a partner who was suffering from severe mental health issues. And Jean was there for him as he went through many different doctors and treatments. She stayed by his side as he went through substantial trials throughout his ordeal.

However, in spite of the fact that he was making progress, Jean realized that she wanted to separate from him. But she didn’t want to do it right away. She wanted to wait for him to become mentally stable before she let him go. Jean described the last year of their relationship as having “zero intimacy”, and that she was essentially unhappy all of the time.

That’s when she decided to turn to Ashley Madison as a way to get some sense of sexual fulfillment and satisfaction. She also tried her best to be discreet about it so as not to hurt her partner.

“The whole ordeal is not something I post on highway billboards,” Jean explains. “But I’m not necessarily ashamed either.” Jean treated the entire thing as a healthy coping mechanism for the toxicity and the emptiness that she was feeling in her own relationship. She defends herself by saying that she had needs and she didn’t want to have to compromise them for the sake of another.

“If women believe they have to have an affair to stay married, it increases the happiness,” explains Walker. The relationship expert doesn’t even think that there is much to be surprised about behind her findings. She thinks that the website is more of a haven for people who feel like their needs in their own relationships aren’t being met. “These affairs are spaces where women set the boundaries and the rules and they create them to focus on their own needs,” she says. “They purposely vet partners and only get involved with men who will cater to their wants, needs, and desires. These are spaces unlike any others in their lives.”

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